The morning that we arrived at the base of Yajishan, a hill whose name comes from the fact that the shape of the two temples on its summit reminded the ancient Chinese of 2 hair buns or short pigtails on top of a girl’s head – an ancient hairstyle that was popular for girls – the temple fair was already in full swing. First, we strolled along the streets at the base of the temple, looking at the many wares for sale. Many of them were objects for daily use, like toys, hair combs, etc., and others were for worship purposes, like incense.
There were also quite a few traditional snacks for sale, like rice cakes, nuts, etc. One thing that made the fair even more interesting was the fact that during its many years of history, Taoism has become mixed with some Buddhist beliefs, and that was reflected in the presence of quite a few Buddhist monks and their participation in the fair. Some of them even offered to tell passersby their fortunes! In exchange for a modest contribution, of course!
After taking in all of the sights and sounds at the temple fair, we started the hike. It consisted of an ascent of fairly steep and continuous stone stairs, broken up by visits to the various temples en route. At each temple, we looked at the statues of various Taoist deities on display and observed the worshipers as we talked about Taoist beliefs and some of the Buddhist ones that had been incorporated into it and which were shown in some of the displays at the temples. After visiting several temples, we finally arrived at the summit of Yajishan, from where we got 360 degree views of the surrounding hills and valleys. After visiting the highest temple on top of the hill, we took a leisurely path down and enjoyed a home cooked Chinese meal at a restaurant at the base of the hill before returning to Beijing.