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    Jing’an Temple with its gold decoration and ornate roofs seems to fit quite well amongst the shopping centers boasting the likes of Gucci, Mont Blanc and Tiffany in Shanghai’s bustling Jing’an district. This is an expensive area to rent, buy or shop and the crème-de-la-crème of foreigners and Chinese reside here with rented apartments commanding 12,000RMB per month. This is also the last geographical area before hitting Gubei, the expat housing village that resembles New York’s Park Avenue. Jing’an, with its sauciness and glitter, attracts more singles than families, preferring it to the almost “Truman Show-esque” Gubei. 

    The temple dates back to 247AD making it 1757 years old and counting. The year 247AD actually predates the birth of Shanghai. The temple is held in much higher esteem by the locals than the tourists’ favorite Jade Buddha Temple. However, here at the Jing’an temple, the ambiance is unfortunately disappointing. From the outside the temple appears enchanting, but inside the soul has almost completely escaped, a recent restoration has robbed it of any character. There is nowhere to really sit and just observe your surroundings, and instead a quick tour is heeded by an even quicker exit. It appears that this temple is mostly kept and run as a tourist attraction. You can even see a monk arrive in his car!!

    The most fascinating thing about the temple is watching visitors pray and make sacrifices. There is a saying in China that the “God of Chinese people is money,” and sad to say, it is true to an extent. Here at the temple, it is astounding to see people with faith in another God (or indeed Gods), and actually be willing to prostrate themselves to that entity. Of course the irony being that they are praying for prosperity.

    If in the area, Jing’an temple is worth a visit, but it won’t require much time unless of course you are a Buddhist. When in the temple, common sense rules apply. No walkmans, mp3 players, no loud chatter, no cell phones, etc. Even if it isn’t consistent with your particular flavor, please be respectful of theirs’. Speaking of flavors, Burger King and Haagan Dazs are located right around the corner.