Linfen, Shaanxi Province
21.07.2009 - 23.07.2009
July 21, 2009
In the morning, we got up fairly early, checked out of the hotel and with Suzie went to the bus station. Suzie is a very lucky younr lady to have a family like she does.
As we traveled toward Linfen, we began to see the remnants of cave houses built into the loess. I also got a picture of a large pagoda in a town called Anzexian that was being renovated.
We arrived to the Linfen bus station at around noon and met one of my sophomore students, Sophia. We checked into a decent hotel and had a quick lunch and Sophia took us on a quick tour of downtown Linfen.
A twenty minute bus ride took us to a huge monument built to honor Emperor Yao 尧 who was a legendary Chinese emperor. He was supposed to have been the perfect sage-king. He is considered to be the proto-type of all Chinese emperors who followed.
This place was huge but expensive to get in. Judging by what we saw from the outside, it was modern with not many interesting ancient Chinese buildings to see. We took some pictures but did not go in. Instead we walked along the huge area just in front of the monument.
After getting some snacks from some of the venders in the monument area, we caught a bus back to the downtown area. Sophia took us to a Ming Dynasty pagoda and a temple complex that was being made into a city museum. It was a very good example of classical Ming Pagoda.
We finished the day doing a little shopping and got back to our hotel at around 5 p.m. We had a early dinner and tired, we had no problem getting to sleep. We were to meet Sophia for breakfast and then return to the Yao Monument to catch a bus to the Dingcun courtyard houses. We were very excited about the next days adventure.
July 22, 2009
Sophia came by at around 0900 and we had a leisurely breakfast before heading out to the Yao Monument where we caught a local bus for 8 Yuan each that took us to the Dingcun village. About an hour from Linfen in Xiangfen County are a bunch of courtyard houses, about forty total which have been renovated for tourists to check out. They are mostly from the Ming and Qing dynasties and are well preserved. Some have been touted as some of earliest example of courtyard houses in China, having been built during Emperor Wanli’s reign of the Ming Dynasty. The newest ones were built during the Republic of Chna between 1912 - 1949. This was why we came to Shanxi Province.
We explored the old buildings for several hours finding the people there to be very friendly and helpful. We are now convinced that courtyard houses tended to come in groups. As the family grew along with their fortune they added more and more courtyards to house the extended family. A courtyard house really tends to be courtyard houses.
Time to get back to the city for some food so we caught the bus back to Yao Monument and another to downtown Linfen near the Bell Tower.
The lights were turned on in the Bell Tower and at night it was very nice.
Another day another adventure enjoyed. Tomorrow we will be taken around the countryside by Sophia's father. We will also get to visit a cave house still in use by Sophia's aunt in a nearby county. Had no problem with sleep today.
July 23, 2009
It was around 0900 when Sophia and her father picked us up. We first went to visit Sophia's aunt in Fushan County which was famous for Chinese paper cutting. The aunt also lived in a genuine loess cave house. We were not disappointed. Prior to arriving to the cave house, we made a quick stop at a newly built area that had a huge statue of Emperor Yao overlooking the land. Stopped for about an hour before heading to the aunt's cave house.
After visiting with the aunt for an hour or so we went to the Gurangsheng Temple about a half hour further down the road. It was built during the Eastern Han Dynasty and was renovated several times up to the Ming Dynasty. The famous and one of China’s most beautiful pagodas, Feihong Pagoda, was last renovated in 1622 with the addition of a corridor on the ground floor. It is spectacular!
It was hot so after a couple of hours exploring all we could at the temple and inside the pagoda (only second floor opened) we decided to head back to Linfen.
In Linfen, Sophia's father let us off downtown to find some dinner. We decided on pizza. At first we thought about an all-you-can-eat place but Sunee said it would be a waste of money since she has never eaten more than one large piece of pizza in her life. We walked across the street and had a regular western style pizza.
After the pizza, Sunee decided she wanted to try some local snacks so we walked around searching for interesting if not weird things to eat.
With Sunee finally full, we walked back to our hotel and prepared to leave for Pinyao in the morning by train. Sophia had gotten us two tickets for in the mid morning.
Linfen is world famous for being the most polluted city on the planet. We did not feel nor did we see this pollution. Sophia assured us that the pollutions starts mostly in the winter when everyone burns their coal stoves. We did see this coal laying around at every open field and around every corner.