A Travellerspoint blog

Jingzhou, Hubei Province

A trip to see the ancient capitol of Shu from the Three Kingdoms period

To say that we did not like Wuhan would be a huge understatement. It was absolutely the worst place with the most unfriendly people we have ever encountered in China. The place sucked big time. The following poem I penned in remembrance of Wuhan:

Wuhan Culture

The sun bore down upon their greed
With hate-filled eyes they watched us go
We crossed the street in frantic speed
Our smiles rebounded on an ancient foe

The streets were lined with Western signs
Their very lives enriched by foreign ways
From Western culture, a hundred kinds
But for themselves they gave the praise

The hotel staff was surlily bound
With arrogant musings made of air
Each one a product of ignorance found
As they walked around so unaware

The Wuhan Chinese are worthless touts
Oh, for Star Trek shows to beam them up
To planets dark for muffled shouts
Of a culture which would not fill a teacup

The Wuhan Bus Station

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This place was busy and very unfriendly. People stared out of hatred and not out of curiosity. We both felt very uneasy. Wuhan people are nasty. It was with great pleasure that we left to go visit the famous Chu Capitol of one of the Three Kingdoms - Jingzhou. The bus left in the morning and we were there in anxious anticipation to get "out of Dodge."

The following narrative and pictures are not in chronological order but in the order in which we thought were the most interesting.

Wanshou Pagoda Park

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We looked all over for this place. It is located on the way to Sashi, the sister city that is part of Jingzhou. I have a special interest in Chinese pagodas and the research I had done about the pagoda at this place told me it was a must see. The entrance to the park was very impressive but old. The colors were vibrant with some really eye-catching Buddha statues outside. As we bought our tickets and walked in, we were greeted with smiles and welcomed with open arms.

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Wanshou Pagoda (Longevity Pagoda)

Longevity Pagoda was built in the twenty-seventh year of Jiajin reign in the Ming Dynasty (A.D.1548) when the seventh king of Liao in the Ming Dynasty was granted the territory of Jinzhou. The pagoda was built in four years to pray for many happy returns for the emperor Jiajing.

Longevity Pagoda is around 135 feet high, with seven floors and an octahedral structure. It is a pavilion-like pagoda made of bricks and stones but was build to appear to be made out of wood. There are eight white marble Hercules-like figures on each corner of this pagoda footing to support the pagoda. An eight-meter statue of Jieying Buddha is located in middle of the first floor, very impressive. There are dozens of carved niches for Buddha inside and outside of the pagoda; over eighty white marble statues of Buddha are there. Each one different and differing poses. Many of the bricks were fired in a unique way. These bricks are square and have various patterns with five kinds of characters-Man, Tibetan, Hui, Mongolian and Han. There are over 2340 of these bricks. These bricks came from eight provinces and sixteen different prefectures or counties. There is a legend that Buddha donated some of these bricks.

The pagoda has a center core and there are stone stairs open onto each floor; there are four doors in each floor. Looking out the openings on the various floors, one can see the rivers and Jingzhou City in the background, a very beautiful view so I read but was unable to appreciate because of the fog. The top of the pagoda is a gourd-shaped copper, carved with the full text of Vajracchedika-sutra, which is supposed to be very valuable. I went all the way up to the top of the pagoda and did have some difficulty getting through as the stair cases got smaller and smaller. Coming down was even more difficult than going up. The stairs and the bricks are well worn with an amazing amount of sculptures embedded into each stone and polished smooth by visitors rubbing on them. I loved this pagoda.

This pagoda is unique among all the pagodas in China. As you can see from the photos, the base of this pagoda is set 24 feet below of the surrounding grounds of the dam. This is because the bed and the water level of the Changjiang River was gradually raised in the course of years. The pagoda was built on this dam to guard the rivers, to tame the flood and protect Jingzhou.

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This is set 24 feet below the surface with carvings and steles embedded into the surrounding rocks.

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Three hippos ready to bite. They have hippos in China?

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I like this picture of a tree growing out of one of the Buddha platforms.

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There were many of these Buddha images set into carved niches around the base of the pagoda

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Small but passable staircases all the way up to the top with a center at each floor

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Thousands of these buddhas were carved into the bricks on the way up the staircase.

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Here you can see that the second floor is actually at ground level as I look out one of the small windows.

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This Buddha statue was in pretty bad shape from exposure to hands and the weather. He is on the second floor.

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On each of the floors there was a Buddha image. Some were old and some were new.

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Buddha images like the two above could be found at all levels of the pagoda. These are old, very old.

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I met these two students (English majors) on the top floor of the pagoda. It was dark so the flash worked great.

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The is the ceiling of the top floor of the pagoda. Interesting structure I thought.

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I loved this picture with the "gazebo" in front and the Wanshou pagoda in the background.

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The above pictures give you a good idea of the beauty that surrounded the Wanshou Pagoda. Stunningly nice.

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These were Chinese practicing their Tai Chi Chuan. There were about ten people involved in the exercises.

Around Jingzhou

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This is the entrance to Jingzhou from Wuhan. My understanding is that this city wall is the best in South China. I love city walls ever since we visited Xian in Shaanxi Province. This wall was marvelous.

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It's August and in three days or so the Olympics will begin in Beijing. These advertisements were all over the city.

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This is in the area known as the ancient street of Jingzhou. Actually this alley led to the toilets but I loved the paintings on the wall.

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These two pictures give a good idea of the Jingzhou Drum Towers. Drum Towers were essential features of all major Chinese cities. I guess they were like the town clock and rallying devices.

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Pay money and you can have your photo taken in these ancient transportation vehicles. I snuck this picture without anyone knowing it. A couple of Chinese tried to take some pictures but they were told they had to pay some money.

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This was one of the best fortune tellers we have talked to in China. He was dressed the part and accurately guess Sunee's age and where she came from. He was very friendly and we enjoyed talking to him.

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This gate was near the Guan Yu Temple and, I think, is the East gate. I love it when the wall has gates all around a city.

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Walk out the East gate and this is what you will see. The city mote goes all around the town just like a medieval city in Europe.

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This guy visited with us for a while. Jingzhou people are very friendly and made us feel very welcome.

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A typical street scene in Jingzhou. Very relaxed and friendly.

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When Chinese have some spare time they play Mahjong. We will be learning how to play mahjong soon to join in the fun, if it is fun.

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This beautiful restaurant is right inside the main gate on the right. We did not eat there but I did take some pictures as you can see.

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We walked out the main gate in the evening and found a place to eat across the river or mote. This is the view looking back across to the main gate.

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A bit over priced but the food was good and the service excellent. The location was also pretty impressive. This is what we had. Believe the big one was a pumpkin pork. Really good.

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Had to take a smapshot of these grapes. Sunee is learning how to paint grapes using watercolor. Maybe she will paint these grapes.

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And, of course, kids are always fun to take pictures of. We met this sweety on one of the busses outside Jingzhou.

Guan Yu Temple in Jingzhou

Origin of Emperor Guan: Emperor Guan was originally the revered Mr. Guan of the Shu kingdom in the Three kingdoms Period. Named Yu and literally titled Yunchang, he was a local of Xieliang county, Puzhou prefecture (now Xieyu county, Shaanxi province). According to legend, Guan was the incarnation of a green dragon. He was born with a heroic look with erect eyes, knitted brows, a wide forehead and a long face. When grown up, he was 9.5 feet tall with a 1.8-foot-long beard. With a jujube-red face, red-phoenix eyes, and lying-silkworm eyebrows, he was a hero able to fight ten thousand men. At the end of the Eastern Han, Guan Yu, Liu Bei and Zhang Fei became sworn brothers in a peach garden and planned to raise troops. At first Guan Yu was defeated and captured by Cao Cao at Xiapi. Cao Cao treated him with special respect and gave him the rank of general. As a loyal commander, he killed Yuan Shao's courageous general Yanliang in battle and saved Cao Cao from dangerous difficulties. Cao appealed to the Emperor to the Marquis of Shouting with very rich largess.

However, after being informed of Liu Bei's whereabouts, Guan left the gold and the marquis's seal untouched and went for Liu. Having founded the Shu kingdom, Liu ordered Guan to defend Xianyang and govern Jinzhou prefecture. Guan defeated Cao Ren and his seven army corps at Fancheng, killing Pang De and capturing Yu Jin, and won resounding fame through the country. Underestimating the enemy from the Wu kingdom, Guan was cheated by the enemy's scheme and suffered defeat at Maicheng and was killed. According to legend, Guan's head was buried in Guan Woods at Luoyang, Henan and his body on Mt. Yuquan at Dangyang, Hubei. Moved by his loyalism and righteousness, later generations have offered sacrifice for him every year. According to Daoist scriptures, Guan manifested himself in theophany and later met the Perfected Man of the Iron Bowl1 , who honored him as Admiral and Earthly Deity. In the Song dynasty, responding to the call of Perfected Man Xujing, the 30th Celestial Master, Guan manifested himself to the emperor, killed monsters, and tamed the flood dragon.

The Zhenzong Emperor praised his merit in protecting the state and blessing the people. In the 1st year (1102 A.D.) of the Chongning Era of the Huizong Emperor, Guan was honored as Loyal and Benefiting Duke. In the 5th year (1123 A.D.) of the Xuanhe Era, he was honored as Righteous and Courageous King of Martial Protection. In the Yuan dynasty, he was honored as Righteous and Courageous King of Martial Protection, Heroic Blessing and Numinous Manifestation. In the early Ming dynasty, people honored him as Grand Warrior Duke Guan and offered sacrifices for him together with Yue Fei. Consequently, martial temples were also called "Temple of Guan and Yue". In the 33rd year (1605 A.D.) of the Wanli Era, the emperor honored him as Imperial Sovereign Saint Guan, Great Emperor Who Defeats the Demons of the Three Realms, and Heavenly Lord Known from Afar for His Divine Power. In the 1st year of the Shunzhi Era in the Qing dynasty, he was honored as Loyal Righteous Divine Courageous and Imperial Saint Guan. In the 5th year (1666 A.D.) of the Kangxi Era, he was honored as Loyal, Righteous, Divine, Courageous, Numinous, Benevolent, Mighty and Imperial Saint Guan. People erected a stele for him in the Guan Woods in Luoyang. Since the Northern Song dynasty, Guan Yu has been one of the law-protecting heavenly deities and known as the Demon-Cleansing Perfected Sovereign8 or as the Great Emperor Who Defeats the Demons. The folk people call him Imperial Sovereign Saint Guan or Emperor Guan. Some people in Taiwan also call him Mysterious Numinous Lofty Emperor. 


Miracles and worship: During the Song and Yuan dynasties, Emperor Guan was a symbol of loyalty and righteousness. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, many Planchette Writing sessions invited Emperor Guan to descend and handed down some writings popular among the people, such as the Perfect Book of Emperor Guan's Enlightenment, the Book of Emperor Guan's Manifest Holiness, and the Admonishment for the Literati. People worship Emperor Guan not merely as a law-protecting heavenly deity, but also as god of war, god of wealth and god of righteousness. They pray to Emperor Guan for many reasons, such as success in imperial examinations, promotion in official ranks, elimination of disasters, curing diseases, exorcising evil, punishing treachery, inspecting hell, blessing merchants, enlarging the exchequer and judging doubtful cases. Secret societies even made the loyalty and righteousness of Emperor Guan their spiritual ligament. For reasons varying from joining the society to becoming sworn brothers, they held all kinds of rituals in front of him, such as burning incense, prostrations and kowtowing, and smearing the blood of sacrifice on mouths when swearing oaths. During the Ming, Qing and Republican periods, Temples of Emperor Guan were built everywhere. Some large-sized Daoist and Buddhist temples also contained images or memorial tablets of Emperor Guan. The popularity of the belief in Emperor Guan can be compared with the cults of City God Temples and local earth spirit temples. According to legend, the holy birthday of Emperor Guan is the 13th day of the 5th month or the 13th day of the 1st month of the lunar year. On the divine birthday of Emperor Guan, temples of Emperor Guan hold celebration rituals. Someone at the end of the Qing dynasty sighed with emotion that the worship of Emperor Guan would be "eternal as heaven and earth". (http://eng.taoism.org.hk/religious-activities-rituals/daoist-folk-customs/pg4-8-22.htm)

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Pictures from Guan Yu Temple in Jingzhou

Jingzhou Museum

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The main building housing the really good museum of the Three Kingdoms period

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I started taking pictures but was told that no photography was allowed. Got these items though

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These were some buildings in the back of the main museum. They were called the Treasure House.[/b][/i]

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This is a small island in the pond next to the Treasure House. A miniature Chinese landscape, right?

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It was just too hot to be walking around a lot!

Sashi Temple

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Pictures from the large temple in Sashi

Posted by inchinahil 06:11 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites

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Comments

Wow. I have lived in Wuhan for five years and I do not recognise your description at all. OK you may have had a bad experience on your day trip but do you really feel qualified to pass this judgement?
I feel that your poem is extremely offensive. How would you like it if someone paid a fleeting visit to wherever you live, and you found yourself traduced in a poem. Would you feel comfortable to be described as a "worthless tout" without "enough culture to fill a teacup"? Incidentally, you couldn't be more wrong on this point, Wuhan is extremely rich in culture if you would give it a chance, and the people are extremely nice. Perhaps your bad experience was due to the fact that you only spent time around the bus station.
I think you should be ashamed for posting this.

by Jiutouniao

Spent a week in Wuhan after a week in Chongching and for the last twelve years have been taking at least one but usually two trips to China. Count the number of times that makes. My first trip was in 1998.

We moved to China in 2007 and I worked (university) in Sichuan for three years. Our spring breaks and summer breaks each of those year were spent in traveling around China. I write what I see. I write how I feel. Wuhan is the only place I have visited in China that made me feel completely unwelcomed as a city. Yes, we met several very nice people in Wuhan but the hotels we stayed were staffed by self-indulgent disrespectful unprofessionals and if you look carefully at the pictures, I have caught more than one Wuhanese waving my camera off. This has simply never happened in any other place in China.

I had several colleagues at Southwest Jiaotong University from Wuhan and loved them greatly. Still you are telling me that I should be ashamed of writing the truth that I suffered with the majority of people I dealt with in Wuhan. You have no idea what you are writing. I could care less what people wrote about my home town if I knew it was biased.

Wuhan is, indeed, rich in culture and is a modern city with many Western firms well established there. Why then, was I treated as a foreign devil and made to feel unwelcomed. I will continue to write the truth of what I see and what I experience. I have a great love for China and her people (my wife is Chinese for a reason) and I was deeply disappointed with Wuhan. I will never visit it again and I tell other people to stay away as well. And FYI, you may want to check how Wuhan University treats its foreign teachers. Do a search and read the horrror stories. Walk a mile in my shoes before you criticize me.

Appreciate greatly you taking the time to read my blog and comment on it. Thank you kindly. You would probably be one of those very nice people I met.

by inchinahil

Do your colleagues from Wuhan who you "loved greatly" know that you think "Wuhan people are nasty" and "Wuhan Chinese are worthless touts"? 自相矛盾 My friend.

by Jiutouniao

Of course, they do. I told them of our experiences the first day of the new semester and teased them about it often, claiming they were from Wuhan whenever they showed any sign of problems.

Suggest you speak to Chinese from other parts of the country who have visited Wuhan and have come back with the same feelings. The people, in general, were the least friendly we have met in China and we have traveled as far west as one can go and as far south and east as is possible. Understand that I do speak Chinese and I have been a student of Chinese culture since my first day studying Chinese and an Air Force linguist back in 1971.

Truth is never shameful. You may very well have a different view of living in Wuhan but that does not mean I made up what we experienced. Anybody who knows me, knows that I am more attuned to Chinese culture than most modern Chinese.

Are you teaching in Wuhan as a foreign guest or are you Chinese and think you must defend the good, the bad and the ugly under any circumstances. I am just curious and I really do appreciate your time.

by inchinahil

You have mistaken unfriendliness for honesty, Wuhan people are very down to earth, they say it as they see it, I actually find the manners in a lot of other areas in China a little affected by comparison. I am well aware of the reputation that Wuhan people have in other areas of China because of this (hence the username Jiutouniao). However I find Wuhan to be the friendliest place I have ever lived.
I am neither Chinese nor a foreign teacher, I am foreigner currently on research as part of writing a PhD in Chinese history.

by Jiutouniao

I am impressed. I was especially anxious to visit Jingzhou because of its connection to The Three Kingdoms period. My wife and I have enjoyed all the new movies that have come out about this period.

Honesty!!!! What you are implying is that the people treated me honestly - they did not personally like me and treated me honestly!

I think a better term is "jaded." IMHO Sichuan people are several times more honest and a heck of lot more friendly. The two friendliest places I have ever been were Lijiang, Yunnan; Yangshuo, Guangxi and Xichang, Guizhou.

Haven't you ever visited a place that you "felt" uncomfortable in? Responses to one's questions; looks; inattentiveness by service personnel and a lack of smiles. The hand waving in Wuhan against picture taking tourist was new for me. I see the standard bunny that all Chinese (especially the young ones) carry around in their pockets. That is honesty and down to earth with no pretensions of being better than other folks.

Where else have you lived or visited in China? There is a fellow teacher still working at SW Jiaotong University who came from Wuhan University. He taught there a year and was treated or at least in the beginning had an opportunity to be treated very poorly. He was "adopted" by the head of one of the science departments and ended up making great friends who he travels to see almost every break. Nice people are everywhere one goes if one is open to friendliness which my wife and I most certainly are. Check how many pictures I have taken with people gathered around us, especially the younger Chinese.

I am glad you are enjoying Wuhan. This still does not change my opinion about what I experienced. PhD in Chinese History!!

by inchinahil

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