Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Don't know what I am doing in Manzhouli or why I am here. I just have a sense that I'm supposed to be here. We'll see. I left the village yesterday morning on the village bus to Erguna, hoping to change busses there to come here. I was told I should take the early bus from the village to make sure I would be able to get a ticket for the next bus, but I didn't want to leave that early, because the second bus gets to Erguna in plenty of time. At it was, they were right. But the time I got to Erguna, the tickets for the bus to Manzhouli were sold out even though it did not leave for another hour. But fortunately a man and his wife had made the acquaintance of one of the drivers, and arranged to get tickets this morning, so they offered to get one for me, too.

Last night some folks I had met up in the north of Hulunbuir wanted me to go with them to see the new church. I had actually planned on going there Sunday, so I was glad to go with them. The place was locked up, so today I took a bus out there again. You won't believe what I foound out. It's fake. Completely fake. Amazing. This had got to be the biggest fake church in the world. When I was in the sanctuary, I was talking to some other tourists. I said, "In China, there is fake milk, fake medicine, and now, a fake church!" I was speaking English when I said that, but one of them answered me in English. "Welcome to China."

When I ask who built it, everyone says it was put here by the government. It's almost new. 2009, I think. Why would the Communist Party want to build a huge brick church complete with an elaborate sanctuary and a big red cross? The cost for entry is 20 RMB. I wouldn't think that would be enough to pay for the huge cost of putting this elaborate structure here. The only thing I can think of is that they put it here to impress the Russians. But I'm not sure the Russians would be that impressed with a fake church. The ladies who work here insist that it's not a fake church. They say it's not a church at all. But that doesn't work. That big red cross has only one meaning. And if they took it down, you can be sure that no one would pay to have their wedding pictures taken here. The China.org website says it was put here for the purpose of "showcasing wedding traditions." Read that, "charging people money to have their wedding pictures taken." But from the looks of the thing, it may take them a few years to break even.

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