Written September 8, 2011
Bamboo Temple (admission 6 yuan) is located in the Yu’an Mountains, about 12 kilometers northwest of Kunming. A relatively straight forward excursion considering the numerous discussions I had with MW concerning whether there was or was not a public bus. She did quite a bit of research for me. Some sources said yes there was a C61 bus to the temple, as listed in Lonely Planet, and some sources said no there wasn’t. Lonely Planet also mentions some “eerily empty West bus station”. I still have no idea where or what that is.
So the deal is, you take the #26 bus to Xī Zhàn, 西站. This can be translated as West station or bus stop, but it is really just a bus stop. Transfer to the small C61 bus (5 yuan to the temple). Alternatively you can transfer at húang tŭ pō, 黄土, the last stop on the #26 bus at a small bus station. Catch the C61 at the bus stop across the street from the station. Tell the driver you are going to “qióng zhú sì” (筇竹 寺), Bamboo Temple, and they’ll drop you off at the right spot. To return from the temple, wait along the road at the entrance to the parking lot and flag down a returning C61 bus.
Once you leave the grungy outskirts of Kunming, the last part of the drive winds up the mountain through the forest. A tranquil setting for one of the prettier temples in the area.
The Buddhist temple is best known for its 500 clay arhats, figures of holy men, each with a unique personality and expression, sculpted in the late 1800s by a Sichuan master and his six disciples. If you are interested in sculpture, art or just crazy figures, they are definitely worth the trip. Unfortunately no photos are allowed and they keep the halls quite dark, making clandestine shots difficult.