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Chinese people like caves. Not those huge ones that go on forever and you get lost and die and your bones are found years later by some spelunkers – well, they probably like those too – but the little ones that are more like a hole in the face of rock: dip in and dip out. There’s usually a statue or two of an old wise man or a bodhisattva. Some of them look quite old, but I wouldn’t risk an opinion on their real age – does it matter at all? You come in from the hot outside and feel the chilly, moist air filling the murk. Here a smooth and glistening belly of a podgy buddha, there a coarse and grimacing face of a demon. The details emerge from the penumbra before the sounds of the outside can die out in your ears; they command a momentary respect even as you smile at the exaggerated poses and faces. Whether or not really put there by worshippers in the days long gone, they evoke a shadow of the ancient respect for for the otherworldly. When you emerge, a shadow of this involuntary awe remains for a moment – then fades back as you walk away, back in the light.

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