Man in China jumps into temple pond to scoop up donated coins

ZHEJIANG, China (CHINA DAILY/THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Tourists at a Buddhist temple in Zhejiang province this week were surprised when they saw a man jumping into a pond to scoop up coins that had been tossed into the water as donations.

The man, in his late 30s from neighbouring Jiangsu province, was dredging up coins for several minutes at Lingyin Temple in Hangzhou on Monday (Oct 3) as thousands of tourists looked on, according to the temple's administration office.

He later explained to police that he had simply "run out of money", according to a local Chinese newspaper.

Mei Bao, chief of the temple's security team, told China Daily that similar behaviour has been rampant at the temple, one of the most famous in China, where visitors, religious or otherwise, like to toss coins or notes and make a wish.

Tourists on site called the police and helped catch the man, said Mei.

Normally it costs 45 yuan (S$9.26) to get into the Lingyin scenic area, a mountainous tourist destination near West Lake that is famous for Flying Peak and its stone carvings. It costs another 30 yuan for the 1,000-year-old Lingyin Temple.

Mei said it's unknown if the man had paid for a ticket or not. The man returned the 600 or so coins to the temple after police mediation, and no further punishment was handed out.

To curb inappropriate behaviour by tourists, the country's National Tourism Administration introduced a system in April 2015 under which travellers can be blacklisted and have their names and offenses published online.

By September, the system, open to the public on the administration's website, had blacklisted 22 tourists. Their behaviors range from posing for pictures on top of a Red Army statue to slapping tour guides. They are likely to face difficulties taking group tours, and applying for visas and credit cards over the next two years, as the administration vowed to inform relevant departments of their misdemeanors.

But the system has been widely criticised for being ineffective and listing only a fraction of the misbehavior happening all over the country, if not the world, every day.