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Courtyard Dream House Adventure (July 20/21)

Changzhi, Shanxi Province


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Chang Zhi student visit

July 20, 2009

Kaifeng was wonderful. The people were extremely friendly and the sites were beautiful. Unfortunately, it was time to travel back into Shanxi Province and our next stop was Changzhi where Suzie, one of my freshmen student lived. The town is not a tourist town but it turned out to be beautiful and the air unusually fresh.

The bus ride from Kaifeng took us back to Zhengzhou where we caught another bus to Changzhi. Four hours of uneventful traveling and we arrived at the Changzhi bus station where we found Suzie. I had given her a call and she was expecting us.

We met her mother and father and they were warm and hospitable. In fact, it was obvious that Suzie's family was very special. Sunee and I fell in love with both her mother and father. The first thing they did was get us set up in a hotel near by and take us to a Shanxi late lunch and what a feast it turned out to be.

Very famous Shanxi Noodles

Very famous Shanxi Noodles

Another Shanxi Specialty

Another Shanxi Specialty

The great tasting Shanxi Pork

The great tasting Shanxi Pork

More Special Shanxi Noodles

More Special Shanxi Noodles

There was just too much Good Stuff on the table

There was just too much Good Stuff on the table

A wonderful Shanxi Soup

A wonderful Shanxi Soup

Weird but still wonderfulNoodles

Weird but still wonderfulNoodles

Donkey Meat rolled in noodles - what I had read about

Donkey Meat rolled in noodles - what I had read about

It was fairly late in the afternoon, so we walked around a while with Suzie then went back to the hotel to relax. Suzie's family had provided us with fruit and snacks for a relaxed evening.

July 21, 2009

In the morning, Suzie picked us up around 0900 and we went to visit the oldest part of town and the old gate. I had told Suzie's father about my broken A640 and we took it to a friend close to the old gate. The friend said it would be ready late thatt afternoon when we got back from our tours.

The Old City Gate

The Old City Gate

After checking in my broken camera, Suzie's father drove us to the oldest temple in the area, about an hours drive through the Shanxi countryside. Agriculture was big and prospering here.

Faxing Temple was built in 401 and was was originally known as the Guangde Temple during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). A stone dagoba was built in the temple in 673. It was renamed Faxing Temple in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and experienced numerous renovations during the Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties. Sitting in the north and facing the south, the temple's main constructions were built on the central axis and include the dagoba, Randeng Tower, Yuanjue Hall and the back hall.

The dagoba, made of sand stone hall, was built by layering the stones. A dagoba is a Tibetan-style pagoda that usually houses some kind of Buddhist treasure. This dagoba is 28 feet long at each side with three-layered eaves. The inside structure is shaped like a square caisson with sets of brackets holding up the eaves. It a pearl-shaped spire with engraved frescos on all the walls. I had never seen such a Chinese ancient structure.

The Randeng Tower lighthouse in the back of the dagoba is octagonal shaped. It was built on a two-storeyed base, with the figures of running beasts with eight performers engraved around the base. The pedestal was carved into the form of a lotus flower, with 4 octagonal hollow lamp kiosks carved above. The tower is hollow inside and lamplight shoots out through the four doors at night, lighting up the yard. It is one of only three or four such stone lighthouses in China. Because of its great value, it is locked inside a plexi-glass box.

The Yuanjue Hall has a huge altar with Sakyamuni sitting cross-legged on it. Two followers of Sakyamuni stand on his sides, bending forward. Two warrior attendants stand in the front of altar. In two side rooms are several statues, wearing various expressions on their faces. There are also many colored sculptures of the Song Dynasty and they are regarded according to the tour guide are some of the best works of the Song Dynasty. It was a very impressive place.

Additionally, we stopped at the base and tested the acoustics of the temple. One could stand at the top of the stairs and hear the noise made by rocks clicked on the stairs at the bottom. Not sure I understood the significants of this but it did work.

The Faxing Temple Entrance

The Faxing Temple Entrance

Faxing Temple

Faxing Temple

The really old Dagoba

The really old Dagoba

The Faxing Temple Courtyard

The Faxing Temple Courtyard

Layered Fence around the compound

Layered Fence around the compound

Refurbished Buddha

Refurbished Buddha

one of the many Song Buddhas

one of the many Song Buddhas

The rare Tang Dynasty Lighthouse

The rare Tang Dynasty Lighthouse

Faxing Temple was great. We had a guide who walked around with us and went into detail about every aspect of the complex. It is a major historical temple.

We next went a few miles into the mountainous area and came to the Chongqing Temple Complex which was in total renovation.

Chong QingTemple View 1

Chong QingTemple View 1

Chong QingTemple View 2

Chong QingTemple View 2

Another Gate in the local town near the temple

Another Gate in the local town near the temple

After spending about four hours looking at the two temples, we headed back to Changzhi to check on my camera near the old city gate.

The Changzhi City Gate

The Changzhi City Gate

More City Gate

More City Gate

Upon entering the camera store, everyone had huge smiles for us. The friend was able to fix my camera. Later, I would find that the previous model of this camera had problems with the lens error. In fact, when it happens to that model, the camera is pretty well dead. Not so my camera. I felt confident that the camera had a bunch dirt in the camera from being used in the hot dusty ancient towns we had visited. I was very happy with getting my camera back. It cost 200 Yuan and I was still smiling.

My Canon A640 Camera is Fixed

My Canon A640 Camera is Fixed

After picking up the camera, we went to a restaurant serving more local dishes. Very good, this Shanxi dishes!

Shanxi Lunch Special

Shanxi Lunch Special

After lunch we went shopping. Must have spent about three hours running around town looking at stuff to buy. We then went to Suzie's aunt's restaurant for an early dinner of fried chicken.

Susie's Aunt

Susie's Aunt

Susie and her Family

Susie and her Family

Shanxi Fried Chicken Dinner

Shanxi Fried Chicken Dinner

After dinner, we walked back over to the area of the city gate for some picture taking.

City Gate at night

City Gate at night

Sunee at the Gate

Sunee at the Gate

More Gate Night shots

More Gate Night shots

A Modern Stone Mural

A Modern Stone Mural

The local mosque at Night

The local mosque at Night

What a great time we had in Changzhi. Suzie's family were some of the finest people we have met in China. We will catch a morning bus to Linfen.

Posted by inchinahil 06:28 Archived in China Tagged people food architecture temple shanxi ancient buddhist_temple

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