The Tao of inappropriate laughter: Dongyue Temple in Beijing

What I imagined I’d see in a Taoist temple was robed monks and maybe some other really spiritual-looking people, the kind of people who sit around contemplating the mystery of the The Way.  And probably a lot of art with yin-yang signs on it.  This sort of temple would not be a place for a deeply unspiritual person like me, a person whose main subjects of contemplation are snacks, dumb jokes, and where to find tights without control top.

Dongyue Temple in Beijing is certainly an active temple and there are monks and pilgrims and possibly some yin-yangs I overlooked.


I can’t tell you much about the design of the temple since once HOB and I entered the temple complex we started looking into these open rooms running along the sides of complex wall. Oh my Taoist God–-it was like we walked into a B-movie set in the 1950’s.



These rooms are each set up as a stage set in Hell.  Each of these scenes are named for a particular activity and are called Departments.  (I was particularly fond of the Department of Suppressing Schemes.)


In the rear of each of these departments is a cross-eyed overlord with two cross-eyed attendants.  They are sitting in judgment of the motley assortment of creatures arrayed in on either side of them, along the walls of the room.



Once HOB and I started peeking into these rooms and realizing just how many were inside the temple complex, that’s when the trouble started: the inappropriate laughter.


I know, I know, it is always best to be low key and respectful as a guest in someone’s sacred space.


But come on people……

Who are you to judge?


Are you going to tell me you could have kept it together in front of the Department for Implementing 15 Kinds of Violent Death?



While checking out Cash Register Tape Tongue man?


Or in front of the Department of Rejected Halloween Costumes?


Nooooooooooo make it stop I have to peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


In case you want to know what HOB looks like when he’s trying really hard not to giggle…


This is my “Nope, nothing is funny here” face.


The guy on the left is getting kicked out of the temple for laughing.


Dongyue Temple was built in the early 1300’s.  I’m, um, fairly certain these statues came later, perhaps because the originals were destroyed in the Cultural Revolution.


This was our first Taoist temple.  I only hope we have more chances to contemplate The Way in such spiritual surroundings in the near future.


How we got to Beijing: train from Xi’an.
Where we slept: Nostalgia Hotel Beijing- Yonghe Lama Temple. Price: €44 for a double. Recommended: yes.




  1. Ye Gods! I would have risked a hernia trying to keep a straight face….how far away did you get before collapsing in a heap, your sides sore from laughing?
    I see they recognise dogs as schemers…I can second that…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well there were a lot of serious people there, tying some kind of red ribbons to a tree and we didn’t want to disrupt their experience. Then we saw a couple of Western college aged guys and they had the same “risking a hernia” faces and we made eye contact and that’s when the collapsing in a heap situation happened.

      My cat is a schemer too….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi. If I ever get to China, I’ll know where to go to get a few laughs. What a weird place.

    By the way, your final sentence in the first paragraph is a classic.

    Neil S.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, thanks Neii—I hope you make it to China so I can read your posts.

      That sentence is accurate, esp. about the tights. I think I should open a store called Tights and Cardigans That Don’t Suck and then I would have so much more free space in my head. (I would call it Tights, Cardigans and Bras That Don’t Suck) but I’m a realist and I know that a comfortable bra is a unicorn……

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nooooo! How did I miss this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good excuse to go back!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I didn’t know they had a Hell in Taoism. Looks kind of close to Dante’s vision. I’ll bet the artists had a great time making these things–I wonder when they were done and what was going on in the country at the time. No doubt the artists had real live actual jerks and villains they knew in mind as they worked.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh for sure, these artists were like Dante, including all their enemies. (I have a certain mean neighbor I would throw in there).


  5. Reminds me of Haw Par Villa in Singapore that showcases hellish punishmens!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just googled Haw Par Villa….oh my….a hell theme park! Thank you for bringing this amazing place to my attention!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You have a great blog. Would you like to share your story on “What You Blog About”
    what motivated you to start this blog ?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the compliment and congrats on your blog as well.

      I have written a post about starting a blog here:

      It was a rather difficult story to write the first time, so I’ll have to decline, but I appreciate the offer.


  7. “Plotting to harm loyal subjects is an even worse crime”…remind you of anyone?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nope, the 45th president doesn’t come to mind at all……

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I would probably wear a mask to hide my sentiments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aha! The “wear a smog mask to hide your giggles” approach—we should have tried it.

      Liked by 1 person

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