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Courtyard Dream House Adventure (July 16 - 17)

Millionaires Mansion between Luoyang and Zhengzhou


View Courtyard House Adventure on inchinahil's travel map.

Longmen Grotto

Today we got up early to go visit the Longmen Grotto, caves full of carved Buddhas that have been worked on for over 400 years since around 490 AD. We had already visited the Dazu Carvings near Chongqing and were not overly excited about the visit plus we were anxious to head on to our next big stop - Millionaire Kang Manor in Gongyi.

We arrived by bus fairly early and had to walk a long, long way just to get near the entrance. Paid some money to ride in a tour cart and then up to the ticket offices. The people had been rather cold to us and a bit arrogant, something we found to be true at the tourist sites with touts and agents.

Sunee checked the prices and asked for the seniors tickets. Sorry. Not at this site for foreigners. We lost interest really quick when we found this out. No amount of negotiations helped so we decided to pass - Chinese who pay Chinese taxes get senior discounts but foreigners who pay Chinese taxes do not. We decided long ago to pretty much stay away from such racist sites. We never found a place in Sichuan that did this.

Again, the people we met in Luoyang were very nice and helpful. I had a student from Luoyang whom we wanted to visit and she help set up our visit, but she ended up getting to go to Taiwan as an exchange student a month before we arrived. We were sad we were unable to visit her but happy for her success of getting to attend a university in Taiwan.

A map of the Longmen Grottos near the first entrance

A map of the Longmen Grottos near the first entrance

Sorry, no discount for senior foreign devils

Sorry, no discount for senior foreign devils

Gongyi and Millionaire Kang Manor

After the Longmen fiasco, we checked out of our hotel and went to the bus station to catch a bus to Gongyi, home of the courtyard manor known as Millionaire Kang Manor. The bus left at around 3 p.m. and took around two and a half hours. We arrived at sundown and found an inexpensive hotel near downtown. We walked around for an interesting restaurant and found a place that had Xinjiang Big Chicken Dish. It was wonderful and at a great price.

Big Chicken Dish

Big Chicken Dish

The next morning we followed the directions and in around thirty minutes we had reached our destination.

Two months prior to making this trip, I had ordered a book from Amazon to get some idea of what we would be looking for in courtyard houses. Chinese Houses by Ronald G. Knapp gave us a good idea of what we would be looking at and where to find them. This was the main reason decided to make this Shanxi trip.

The Kang Millionaire Manor was started in the Ming Dynasty by one of the most prosperous families in Henan and in all of China. The family remained united for over 400 years and gradually developed this self-sufficient manor or zhengyuan 状元 employing thousands of servants and workers to maintain it.

In 1901, the Empress Dowager, Ci Xi, spent the night as a guest on her way back to Beijing from Xian. She was so impressed by the manor and the Kangs that she called them Kangbaiwan and, thus, the complex became known as Kang Millionaire Manor.

At its zenith, it covered more than 64,300 square meters and had five main courtyards which, by the way, are still intact. It is an impressive complex but, as most Chinese buildings of this style, become very confusing as one wonders around from courtyard to courtyard and through a myriad of oval and other doorways. It was one of the highlights of our trip and cemented the concept in my mind that the courtyard houses of the type found in Beijing are not really the typical example. These big manors expanded over time with the addition of the typical courtyard house. The richer the family, the more courtyards.

Chinese Houses

Chinese Houses

Our destination by local bus was easily visible from the street and a big sign out front.

Millionaire Kang Manor is right over there

Millionaire Kang Manor is right over there

Wide view from the road

Wide view from the road

One had to walk across a nicely appointed park area to get to the ticket office. Remnants of ancient buildings and artifacts could be seen immediately.

Old entrance gate

Old entrance gate

No negotiations this time! The people at the ticket office sold us discount tickets with a huge smile and welcomed us, wishing us to have a great time.

Half-price tickets are Good

Half-price tickets are Good

On the way to the main complex that was the manor, we passed a great little courtyard that we examined carefully. Just what we were looking for.

A very nice new Courtyard

A very nice new Courtyard

A fair piece to walk from the ticket office to the manor allowed one to do a bit of shopping for "antiques" and Manor branded stuff.

Main Entrance

Main Entrance

Newly minted antiques for sale

Newly minted antiques for sale

The main entrance was set up for tourists but we were the only ones entering through the long tunnel and the opened impressive black wood doors.

Entrance into the actual complex

Entrance into the actual complex

The imposing Black Door

The imposing Black Door

Long Entrance tunnel

Long Entrance tunnel

Walk around with us as we take a look at this huge complex of courtyards and Chinese architecture.

A Side Entrance

A Side Entrance

Two guard Lions

Two guard Lions

A Old Stele

A Old Stele

Oval door into another courtyard

Oval door into another courtyard

Brick Doorway

Brick Doorway

Half a dozen old Stele tops laying around

Half a dozen old Stele tops laying around

The hottest day of the trip

The hottest day of the trip

One of many doorways

One of many doorways

The main Courtyard

The main Courtyard

Main Bedroom

Main Bedroom

Chinese Red Interior

Chinese Red Interior

Library

Library

Crane Interior

Crane Interior

White Interior

White Interior

Cave for cooling off

Cave for cooling off

A real Cart - not a prop

A real Cart - not a prop

The Orange Bedroom

The Orange Bedroom

The Yellow Bedroom

The Yellow Bedroom

It is just too Hot

It is just too Hot

Lots of these Oval Doors

Lots of these Oval Doors

Lock picture - almost as good as knocker pictures

Lock picture - almost as good as knocker pictures

Beautiful Small Courtyard

Beautiful Small Courtyard

Phoenix Bricks

Phoenix Bricks

Qing Dynasty Toilet - waste not the time

Qing Dynasty Toilet - waste not the time

Another Oval door into another Courtyard

Another Oval door into another Courtyard

Another Lock photo

Another Lock photo

I took a lot of pictures to give us some concept of how Chinese courtyards are laid out. Too many pictures, too much walking and too many times confused as to where we were, made for a tiring day. This coupled with the extreme heat made us slow down on our excited exploration of the complex. It was very hot as the photos indicate.

We walked back out the entrance and said goodbye to the staff at the ticket gate and caught a bus back to our hotel. Actually, we got on the wrong bus and when we realize it, the bus driver let us off with the direction to where we were staying. Getting off at the same location was a young college student from Gongyi. She gave us directions to our hotel then decided to walk back to the hotel with us. We had a great conversation and found out a lot of how people lived in Gongyi and the area. A nice surprise ending to an inspiring visit.

Friend in Gongyi

Friend in Gongyi

We were too tired to eat a lot so that evening we got some snacks and walked around a city park to take in the atmosphere.

Xinjiang bread - a delicacy we never turn down

Xinjiang bread - a delicacy we never turn down

Gazebo at Night

Gazebo at Night

The next morning we were scheduled to catch a bus to Zhengzhou, the capitol of Henan Province, where we would change buses to Kaifeng. My readings on Zhengzhou did not show anything of interest or at least no courtyard houses so we decided to press on to the former Song Dynasty capitol of Kaifeng.

Posted by inchinahil 06:32 Archived in China Tagged food architecture house gongyi courtyard_house henan_province millionaires_mansion

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