Travel Professor explores Religious Tourism

Religious tourism, sometimes referred to
as spiritual tourism or faith tourism, is the type of tourism where people travel
individually or in groups for pilgrimage or missionary purposes. The visit often is
to a religious or a holy site. Tourism has two components to this. One is
spiritual and the other is leisure. And religious tourism has become big
business. There’s lots of dollars in it. We can see here in Corfu there is the sale
of iconography art as tourist souvenirs so you can come, see the church and buy
the merchandise. In this video, I show a few of the religious sites and practices I have undertaken including churches in Corfu, Greece and Munich, Germany and
temples in Kunming, China. I released some birds in Cambodia for good luck and I
also have a Chinese fortune teller interpret my Chinese fortune sticks or
Kau Chim. One of the things about religious tourism is getting the right balance. So for some, it’s a tourist attraction – many many tourists going through as a spectacle, but for other people it’s a sacred place of worship where they come to meet
or speak with their God or just to have some inner peace. But getting that balance, it can be quite tricky for churches and temples and mosques. The revenues that
tourists may pay on entrance, of course, goes to some of the upkeep and maintenance
costs but at the trade-off of having people troupe
through the place of worship. So in almost every society we have this quest for the
meaning of life and even here, I’m in Phnom Penh Cambodia, and by the riverside,
by the Mekong, we can see people such as here, trying to read fortunes, predict
luck, some card game and incense so this there’s a fair few along here, presumably
interpreting people’s fortunes and giving them some sort of enlightenment
or hope for the future. Some birds. I’m not sure the purpose of them. OK, so I found out that the birds are
for good luck, or Happy New Year, something like this. Someone purchases them and you let them free and then you get some good luck. So again this is related to some spirituality or some ideas like this. Ok, so I’m going to get some good luck. I’ve just got two little sparrows for $1 and hopefully the best luck I’m going to get is that they don’t shit on me. Alright. Muy (One), Pi (Two), Bey (Three) Something that tourists find interesting in China with respect to religious tourism is the Taoist temples. Behind me is Miaozan Temple, which is a combination of different halls depicting the Gods and in front there’s also these two towers, the twin towers of Miaozan Temple. Here and here. So but, so tourists like to come and look
at different gods and see how Taoism is played out. Ok. Look at this style. What are you thinking?
Thai? Right? Well, actually this temple was newly built as a gift from the King of
Thailand. Inside is a statue of Sakyamuni. I’m here in Kunming, Yuantong Temple. It’s the
largest Buddhist temple in Kunming. It’s been here for over at 1,000 years. It
brings up a very interesting point about religious tourism or pilgrimage.
Sometimes it’s called historical tourism. It’s related to obviously to the history.
You can think of going to the Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam, having
to go to see Mecca once, once in the life but there’s many other pilgrimages also,
from different religions. Like I said, I’m here in Yuantong in Kunming in the
province of Yunnan, China. Behind me are the temple gates
it’s a beautiful architecture. In the centre of the temple is a large square
pool and behind that is an octagonal pavilion and you can see the
criss-crossing of the paths leading to… The architecture very cool. Yuantong temple was first built in
the late 8th and the early 9th century in the Tang Dynasty but the current
design was from the Qing dynasty. Many of the temples in China follow a Feng Shui design. Feng Shui, literally, wind- water in English, is the Chinese
philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding
environment. So I’ve just come out of Yuantong
temple and I see a Chinese fortune teller so, of course, I have to stop and
have my fortune told. I had to grab a passerby whose English was pretty good
to be a translator because the fortune teller couldn’t speak English, I can’t
speak Mandarin. So I told him my date of birth and my
birth year and believe it or not he interpreted it in his little book there
and he said that I am handsome. Now he also should have said I am gullible as
well because I totally believed him. I was half expecting him to say,
Confucius say “Man who runs behind car gets exhausted” or Confucius say “Man who
runs in front of car gets tired” but there was no such joke. He also said that I think I make good
decisions but they turn out not to be so such great decisions and my family truly
believed that when I said that I was taking a family holiday to Kunming. Not content with just having my fortune told
off my date of birth, I thought I’ll have a go at the Kau Chim. The Kau Chim, for
those that are unaware, is where you shake the bamboo pot or Chim Tong
and three bamboo sticks come out. On those three bamboo sticks, are written a
number and those numbers relate to some Chinese poetry or verse which the
interpreter then looks up and interprets for you. Those sticks are sometimes called
Chinese fortune sticks or Chi Chi sticks when translated into English.
The practice dates back to the Jin Dynasty in about the 3rd century AD Sometimes called “lottery poetry”, it’s
very common in many Taoists temples so now you know. When you see it around – Kau Chim.

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