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Luxurious toilets debut in Shaolin Temple
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The ascetic Shaolin monks may have never stepped into a luxury hotel, but they can use luxury toilets, which have cost three million yuan (US$430,000) in total, inside their temple.

Two luxurious toilets, one four-starred and the other five-starred, have opened this month in Shaolin Temple in central China's Henan Province, and are free of charge for tourists and monks in the monastery.

The five-starred toilets, which measured more than 150 square meters, are equipped with an area for mothers with infants and a bench for nappy changing, uniformed cleaners and a foyer with an LCD television.

The toilets also provide easy access for the disabled with a blind pass and Braille signs.

"The toilets aim to better serve tourists from both home and abroad," said Zhang Zhongqiang, an official with the local municipal government.

Chinese netizens, however, have aired different voices.

On www.163.com, a major Internet portal in China, netizens have poured out criticism on the extravagant toilets. Some said the Shaolin Temple has become too vulgar and others said the money should be used to build more decent toilets in the countryside.

The Shaolin Temple is famed for combining martial arts with Buddhism and features long sessions of meditation to purify the mind. It has received many dignitaries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

(Xinhua News Agency April 8, 2008)

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