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Courtyard Dream House Adventure (July 10-12)

Yuncheng and Pujiu


View Courtyard House Adventure on inchinahil's travel map.

Preparations

In 2008, we bought some land south of Bangkok in hopes of building a Chinese Courtyard House 四合院。 After much internet search and seeing a few examples in the area where we lived in Leshan District of Sichuan Province, we decided to take our summer vacation and find examples of such houses in China. The best place to find them is obviously Beijing but we had seen several there and knew that they had lost their architectural impact because of the building surrounding them. We decided to take our vacation in Shanxi province where we could look at these houses without the distraction of modern buildings surrounding them.

Since I had two students who came from Shanxi, I began to gather information from them about the trip, places to visit and the houses we wanted to see. The two female students were excited that we were going to come to visit them during the summer vacation. Our plans were finalized and we would be starting at the lower part of Shanxi and working our way up to Taiyuan which would give us the opportunity to visit many of the courtyard houses.

Flying to Shaanxi Province July 10,2009

The closest airport to Chengdu is Yuncheng 运城市. My student who lived in Linfen 临汾市 told me this was how she got home. She flew to Yuncheng and then took a bus to her home about four hours away. A rather inexpensive way to start our search for our dream house. In addition, Yuncheng was the center piece in one of my favorite Chinese movies - Inn of the Sixth Happiness with Ingmar Bergmann. This is a true story about the life of Englishwoman Gladys Alyward, a missionary who spent most of her life in Yuncheng.

Yuncheng

We arrived quite late in the evening so could not see anything other than the inside of the airport taxi. It took about forty minutes to get to the city (population around 5,000,000). On the way, Sunee visited with the taxi driver about sites in and around the city. When she asked about possible courtyard houses, he excitedly told us that a new courtyard mansion had just recently been opened not far from the city. It was called the Lee Mansion. We decided to visit the mansion first thing the next day.

We checked into the hotel the taxi suggested and went out to explore around the hotel and find something to eat. The people were friendly and we settled on some familiar dishes of noodles Shanxi style.

First night dinner

First night dinner

Our room was old but huge. It had a large living room and two separate bedrooms. In the living room was a electronic mahjong table ready to be used. Since we really did not know how to play, we spent a few minutes checking out ancient mahjong on a totally automatic electronic mahjong table. I do know that Sichuan mahjong is not the same as Shanxi mahjong. The room was large but rather run down and, of course, the price was right- 150 yuan for the first night in a strange town.

Room Mahjong

Room Mahjong

Lee Family Manor

The next morning (July 11, 2009) we got up early and caught a bus to Lee Manor. Well, let me just say that we caught a bus to the area of the Lee Mansion. All we saw was a huge sign welcoming us to the mansion. Nothing else

Lee Huge Entrance

Lee Huge Entrance

Lee Welcoming Sign

Lee Welcoming Sign

After trying to figure out the lay of the land, we decided to call the number provided by the sign. A man immediately came out to pick us up with a tourist golf cart. The man was very friendly and was happy to see us after charging us six yuan each for the ride.

Telephone Number

Telephone Number

The Lee Mansion complex was divided into two parts - old mansion stuff and newly built museum-like stuff. Check out the obvious touristy buildings and architecture which was just completed this year to draw some visitors.

The Main Entrance

The Main Entrance

New Red Door

New Red Door

All Newly Minted Buidlings

All Newly Minted Buidlings

A Newly Carved Stone Mural

A Newly Carved Stone Mural

A Close Look At a Carving

A Close Look At a Carving

More New Buildings

More New Buildings

A New Wooden Door

A New Wooden Door

Chinese Door Knocker Closeup

Chinese Door Knocker Closeup

Door Knocker

Door Knocker

More Doors

More Doors

Movie Making

Movie Making

Not the KInd of Building Courtyard we wanted

Not the KInd of Building Courtyard we wanted

New Courtyard building

New Courtyard building

Another Courtyard

Another Courtyard

Lee Family Daily Activity Watercolor

Lee Family Daily Activity Watercolor

Sculpture of Lee Family

Sculpture of Lee Family

Old Hitching Post

Old Hitching Post

Bronze of a family worker

Bronze of a family worker

New Porch

New Porch

Courtyard Yard View

Courtyard Yard View

Another Porch

Another Porch

Posing But Getting Really Bored

Posing But Getting Really Bored

It was a good thing we got in for half price because of our ages because up to this point, we were not excited by what we had seen. Emei City and most of the larger towns in Sichuan have already built replicas of what appears to be Ming-style buildings to draw tourists. This was simply boring!

To the back of this new area was what appeared to be older buildings so we headed in the direction of the pagoda we saw in the distance.

A Pagoda in the back of the new buildings

A Pagoda in the back of the new buildings

Finally a building that may have been an original

Finally a building that may have been an original

An ancient stele. Things are looking up for our Courtyard Adventure

An ancient stele. Things are looking up for our Courtyard Adventure

These turtles on the stele are for rubbing so this one is old

These turtles on the stele are for rubbing so this one is old

Wrong! This is a freshly carved waterbarrel

Wrong! This is a freshly carved waterbarrel

This next set of buildings were a mixture of old and renovated. We seem to be getting close to something old.

The Typical Chinese Oval Interior Door

The Typical Chinese Oval Interior Door

This area displayed the Western Influence on the Lee Family

This area displayed the Western Influence on the Lee Family

The Entrance to the real Lee Mansion - about 15 feet below the surface

The Entrance to the real Lee Mansion - about 15 feet below the surface

Ancient Engraving done for you now of the Lee Mansion

Ancient Engraving done for you now of the Lee Mansion

Original Stone Doors

Original Stone Doors

Real Old Carvings

Real Old Carvings

Fantastic Wooden Doors

Fantastic Wooden Doors

As you probably have guessed, we are now in the real Lee Mansion. The stuff on top and to the front was added to enhance the ability to draw the local Chinese tourists. For us it was boring and overdone, telling over and over how great and socially beneficial the Lee Family had been to the local community. That is probably why the Lees lived so far away from Yuncheng. The real Courtyard House begins.

Beautifully Done Woodcarvings

Beautifully Done Woodcarvings

A Real Shanxi Courtyard Section

A Real Shanxi Courtyard Section

We slowly began to realize that a mansion in ancient China may have been made up of a bunch of classical Chinese court yards. There were at least five that we counted in this complex. The Chinese wealthy and nobility must not have built huge residences all at once but added on court yard sections as their families grew or their wealth increased. I am just guessing based on what we were seeing with the Lee Mansion. Will remember to look closely and ask questions as we visit other such mansions.

Stone Oval Door

Stone Oval Door

Shanxi and Shaanxi are famous for their location on the loess plateau 黄土高原。We saw this loess in our many trips to Xian where there were lots of cave houses. It seems that the Lee Mansion was dug down into this loess and that explains why it was quite a distance from Yuncheng and set below the new area above.

A Cave Room

A Cave Room

Nice Carved Entry

Nice Carved Entry

The area that differentiated the real Lee Mansion from the tourist site was stark in its contrast. One walks through a series of long allies that lead to a park that is being renovated. It is surrounded by a new brick wall where the pagoda we saw earlier stands. It was not quite finished but the park will have a beautiful pond with all the Chinese trimmings when it is done.

An Octagon Window

An Octagon Window

Allies Leading Away from the Real Mansion

Allies Leading Away from the Real Mansion

An Oval Window with Park View

An Oval Window with Park View

The Pagoda

The Pagoda

A Rickshaw Prop

A Rickshaw Prop

Getting Back to the New Section

Getting Back to the New Section

Lee MansionExit

Lee MansionExit

Good Luck_Gold Coins

Good Luck_Gold Coins

It was hot so we were considering heading out but noticed the apparent kids theme park across the parking lot. This was obviously set up to draw in Chinese families. I talked Sunee into walking the great distance in the hot sun to check it out. We were both disappointed as it was really for kids

Kids' Theme Park

Kids' Theme Park

A Huge Red Entrance

A Huge Red Entrance

Posing

Posing

Red Door Lion

Red Door Lion

ART PHOTO - Swaying Wall

ART PHOTO - Swaying Wall

ART PHOTO - Hitching Post

ART PHOTO - Hitching Post

Gothic Catholic Church of Yuncheng

We arrived back in Yuncheng by bus at around 2 PM and went looking for the Catholic church that was one of the four remaining Gothic cathedrals in China. It was situated on a large hill overlooking the northwest section of the city. It was built in 1935 and became famous for its architectural design. The Catholics first came to Yuncheng when Italian Jesuits arrived in the mid 1600s. The church did not disappoint.

Definitely a Gothic Cathedral

Definitely a Gothic Cathedral

Mary with Jesus in a Chinese gazebo

Mary with Jesus in a Chinese gazebo

The stunning interior

The stunning interior

Guan Wang Temple

This very old Buddhist temple was right across the street from the Catholic church. Not sure who Guan Wang was but the temple looked to be Song Dynasty. It made for some interesting pictures.

Guan Wang Temple

Guan Wang Temple

Very Old Carved dragons

Very Old Carved dragons

Ancient Steles

Ancient Steles

The Temple Wall

The Temple Wall

A Great Looking Wooden Monk

A Great Looking Wooden Monk

The Temple Courtyard

The Temple Courtyard

ART PHOTO: Leaning Bike

ART PHOTO: Leaning Bike

Detailed Carvings

Detailed Carvings

Dragon Pole And Lantern

Dragon Pole And Lantern

Guard Dog

Guard Dog

After spending about an hour in the temple, we headed back to our hotel and had a late Yuncheng lunch. The Lee Mansion turned out to be pretty good with about five or so courtyard sections. The Catholic church was beautiful and the Buddhist Temple was old and very photogenic. A good day.

A Late Lunch

A Late Lunch

Pujiu And Ying Ying Pagoda

Once upon a time during the Tang Dynasty, a lady with her young daughter YingYIng 盈盈 was traveling to Chang'An and took rest in the local temple near Puchiu. Also in the temple resting and on his way to Chang'an was a young scholar by the name of Zhang Sheng. During their visit to the temple, they fell in love. Thus begins the Romance of The West Chamber, a celebrated novel written during the Yuan Dynasty. Welcome to Puchiu Temple and the YingYing Pagoda named in honor of the above young lady.

We left Yuncheng very early in a care we rented to take us to Puchiu. Puchiu is a small nondescript town with very few things to see. Few that is if one is not counting the famous Puchiu Temple with the Ying Ying Pagoda of West Chamber Fame. It was worth the trip.

On the way we came across a very large funeral procession. There were hundreds of mourners dressed in white spread out along the road for several hundred meters.

A Funeral

A Funeral

We got settled in a small hotel in the middle of town and immediately found a bus to the Pujiu Temple.

The YingYing Pagoda and Pujiu Temple

The YingYing Pagoda and Pujiu Temple

The Pagoda

The Pagoda

Always On Guard

Always On Guard

Have To Buy Tickets

Have To Buy Tickets

Buy A Lock And Leave It

Buy A Lock And Leave It

The Big Bell

The Big Bell

A Happy And Fat Buddha

A Happy And Fat Buddha

A Nice Bronze near the top of the entrance

A Nice Bronze near the top of the entrance

A Painted Buddha

A Painted Buddha

This is a monk that Sunee visited with and he was very friendly

This is a monk that Sunee visited with and he was very friendly

It is hot in July in China and Sunee was hot.

It is hot in July in China and Sunee was hot.

This temple complex was built on what appeared to be loess and remained while the surrounding area was gradually worn down by farming or normal wear as the temple was very ancient going back to the Tang Dynasty. At least the location had a temple on it throughout its history.

The Temple Area Stairs

The Temple Area Stairs

Red Doors

Red Doors

I asked about a very nice sign under a roof. Sunee told me what it said and it was boring. Mostly just rules for tourists. How disappointing!

A nice roofed Sign

A nice roofed Sign

An Orange Buddha

An Orange Buddha

Pink Buddha

Pink Buddha

Pagoda up close. It is nice and has a weird echo effect if pounded on with stones. Legend has it that the guy who built it hid a couple of gold frogs in it and so people tap the building looking for a hollow place in it.

Ying Ying Pagoda

Ying Ying Pagoda

A Dark Buddha

A Dark Buddha

Drum Tower

Drum Tower

We finished looking over the Puchiu Temple then negotiated a ride in a cute three wheeled vehicle to take us to some more of the sites in the area. The Guang Lou is one of the best examples of

Guangque

Guangque

Guangque Attic was originally built during the Northern Zhou Dynasty and destroyed during the Yuan Dynasy. The current one was built on the original site. Sunee was not interested so I paid my money and walked about a mile to the structure from the main entrance. I thought it was worth the walk.

Guangque Attic Close

Guangque Attic Close

Intricate Painting on the Front

Intricate Painting on the Front

There were elevators to take the tourists to the various floors. I caught it to the top floor for a magnificent view of the area. In addition, we were entertained by a lovely lady playing the gucheng.

Gucheng

Gucheng

When I walked back to our rented three-wheeler, Sunee was very hot so we took a few minutes to get water and then headed for some cave houses that were in the area. I wanted to see cave houses while in Shanxi. Most of the cave houses were long gone and only a few remained.

Abandoned Cave House

Abandoned Cave House

This is the top of an ancient stele that was laying around near these cave houses.

Ancient SteleHead

Ancient SteleHead

Back to Pujiu for lunch and then we tried to get a bus ticket to Luoyang in Henan Province about six to eight hours away. Sunee demanded we go visit the ShaoLin Temple so it was off to Luoyang. Got lucky and found a bus that would be leaving at around 6 am the next morning. Near the bus station we found some interesting bronze X-rated statues. This is just a more modest example.

Bronze Statue

Bronze Statue

Posted by inchinahil 06:37 Archived in China Tagged food architecture cities china tourist_sites ancient_town courtyard_house shanxi_province Comments (0)

Courtyard Dream House Adventure (July 15)

Shaolin Temple near Luoyang


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Shaolin Temple near Luoyang

Yesterday we walked down to the bus station area and made arrangements for a tour company to drop by our hotel to pick us up. We were to join a tour to visit Shao Lin Temple. The agent stated plainly that this tour was to Shao Lin and covered the bus trip but not the entrance fees. We were paying for the convenience of not taking public transportation and we were a bit tired from running after buses. A nice respite, we thought

The car came right on time at 8 a.m. and took us to the agent's building where we climbed onboard a very crowded bus. There were four other foreigners on the bus and a lot of Chinese. I sat next to two lovely Italian students who had finished their classes in Shanghai and were traveling around before returning to Italy. We all relaxed for what we expected would be an easy hour or so trip to the famous monastery and temple.

Wrong!

Within around thirty minutes we made a stop at a cultural site that I never heard of. It was the tomb of the third wife of the fourth emperor's cousin who lived in the area after his first two wives had been killed by the emperor. Not really but it was a newly hatched cultural site that we were not interested. We began to complain to the tour guide that we had not signed up to stop at every temple along the way to Shaolin. He got testy! Eventually he said it was not his problem but several others in the bus had the same reaction. He eventually gave our money back and sent us to the main road to catch the public bus to Shaolin Monastery. The other foreigners stayed with the tour.

The tomb of some wife??

The tomb of some wife??

Waiting for the public bus

Waiting for the public bus

The bus to Shaolin

The bus to Shaolin

Tickets were 100 Yuan for everybody, so we paid our money and entered the world-famous Shaolin Monastery.

Shaolin beginning Practicianers

Shaolin beginning Practicianers

The Shaolin phone system

The Shaolin phone system

On the bus we sat next to a couple of students from Beijing so we decided to visit Shaolin together. I believe they were engineering students.

Our Beijing Friends

Our Beijing Friends

As one enters the complex, on finds an open area for shows. Indeed, there was a show be presented by a bunch of baby monks. After watching several martial arts shows on and around Emei Mountain, this was in comparison "cheezy!"

Baby monks on display

Baby monks on display

More baby monks

More baby monks

Greetings for Shaolin Monastery

Greetings for Shaolin Monastery

More greetings snaps

More greetings snaps

Another Shaolin Phone

Another Shaolin Phone

Wheel of Fortune (actually Life)

Wheel of Fortune (actually Life)

Happy snaps at Shaolin Entrance

Happy snaps at Shaolin Entrance

Guardian 1

Guardian 1

Guardian 2

Guardian 2

Red Door Guard

Red Door Guard

Many Guards

Many Guards

Good Luck

Good Luck

Newly renovated Pagoda

Newly renovated Pagoda

Guard lion

Guard lion

Steal that Stele

Steal that Stele

Turtle Stele

Turtle Stele

Lionhead

Lionhead

HDR (high dynamic range) Post

HDR (high dynamic range) Post

Knockers are my favorite

Knockers are my favorite

Another KNocker photograph

Another KNocker photograph

Filming an important movie

Filming an important movie

A Darkened Lion Head - Rub it for good luck

A Darkened Lion Head - Rub it for good luck

Not a baby but a real Shaolin Monk

Not a baby but a real Shaolin Monk

What is behind the red Lion Door

What is behind the red Lion Door

Crash dummy Bronze Head

Crash dummy Bronze Head

Crash dummy Bronze Bod

Crash dummy Bronze Bod

For a price ride theCamel

For a price ride theCamel

Shaolin monks hawking their wares

Shaolin monks hawking their wares

Teaching about Zen Buddhism

Teaching about Zen Buddhism

Forest of Pagodas

Forest of Pagodas

Very famous Pagodas

Very famous Pagodas

Guarding the steps

Guarding the steps

Open the Blue Door at your own risk

Open the Blue Door at your own risk

Still None Life Photo - Stele with Chair

Still None Life Photo - Stele with Chair

Knocker on Blue

Knocker on Blue

Three thumbs up for the monastery

Three thumbs up for the monastery

Sunee does some Charity

Sunee does some Charity

This Shaolin Monastery was enjoyable and worth the effort. The Monastery, IMNO, is not real - a commercial venture where they are selling the Shaolin Brand. Capitalism at its best. Even though it was very commercial, we enjoyed the visit and the monks played their parts perfectly. We did visit with a few who seemed to enjoy their acting parts and were really friendly. I think the Emei Mountain monks who do martial arts would wipe the floor with these monks but who knows. Wutang Mountain also is well known for its marital arts as well. Shaolin has got the name and the star power behind it and is a very successful tourist attraction. We both liked it very much.

Returning to the entrance at around 4 p.m. we met the foreigners who had been on the bus with us. They had spend a lot of money to get into five different sites on their way to Shaolin. None of them was happy about their current lack of time to enjoy Shaolin. We visited awhile about their adventures then rented a taxi back to our hotel and much needed rest.

Posted by inchinahil 06:34 Archived in China Tagged food mountain monks tourist_sites ancient_town martial_arts buddhist_temples henan_province Comments (0)

Courtyard Dream House Adventure (July 18)

Kaifeng, Henan Province


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Kaifeng

The trip through Zhengzhou was uneventful except we had to change buses in a weird residential area. The second bus then took us on to the bus station where we again had to change buses to get to the Kaifeng bus. All the service personnel we interacted with at the bus stations were really great and went out of their way to insure we were headed in the right direction or on the right bus. The people on the bus seemed genuinely interest in us and Sunee struck up a conversation with several of them as we went from bus to bus.

On the Bus to Zhengzhou

On the Bus to Zhengzhou

We arrived in Kaifeng and tried to locate a hotel which I had read about in one of the Lonely Planet articles on the internet. No luck as our taxi driver had never heard of it. We ended up about a block from the night market downtown in a hundred plus year old hotel. The rooms were comfortable and a little run down but . . . one hundred years old and in a great location at a good price.

For lunch we walked across the street from the hotel and found a cute little restaurant with cute little Chinese girls waitressing. What can I say? They were overjoyed to see us and we had a great lunch and friendly conversation

Our wonderful waitress

Our wonderful waitress

The people at the restaurant told us all the neat things to do in Kaifeng starting with the Kiafeng museum. We arrived by taxi and had to wait a half hour for it to open. It was also free. A very professional museum with a lot of stuff to see. The Print Museum section was especially interesting because they were in production when we visited. Even bought a couple of the prints hot off the presses.

The Print Museum

The Print Museum

Printmaking

Printmaking

Sold a finished  Chinese labor-intensive Print

Sold a finished Chinese labor-intensive Print

Museum Gold

Museum Gold

A huge carved Wood panel

A huge carved Wood panel

The Kaifeng Museum

The Kaifeng Museum

After about two hours in the museum we visited second site on our list from the restaurant.

Bao Zheng 包拯 Memorial Temple and Park

Judge Bao Zheng or Bao Qing Tian 包青天 was a magistrate in Kaifeng during the Song Dynasty. Every Chinese knows who he is because he is considered to be the symbol of justice in China. He was born in Hefei, Anhui Province into a scholar family. He passed the highest level Imperial Exam and was assigned to Kaifeng or Bian as it was called during the Song Dynasty. There is a TV series that Sunee never missed about him. She knew who he was and what he did from watching all the TV serials about him. She was very happy to be able to visit where he lived and worked.

Bao Zheng Entrance

Bao Zheng Entrance

Again half-price tickets without negotiations

Again half-price tickets without negotiations

Ceremonial Drum

Ceremonial Drum

Ceremonial Gong

Ceremonial Gong

Statue of Bao Qing Tian

Statue of Bao Qing Tian

Lion Door

Lion Door

Beautiful red Porch with pillars

Beautiful red Porch with pillars

As we walked around enjoying the architecture and the displays, we came across a monk selling his handicrafts. He told us he was a ShaoLin Monk. We also found out that he was married and not a vegetarian. This, according to him, was a special dispensation for only ShaoLin monks who were in training to be warriors. He was a very friendly and interesting fellow. The wood burning pictures in the background were his specialty.

A ShaoLin Monk

A ShaoLin Monk

Very impressive entrance way

Very impressive entrance way

Blue Roofed prayer hall

Blue Roofed prayer hall

Finally, another Old Knocker to photograph

Finally, another Old Knocker to photograph

The Main Pagoda

The Main Pagoda

The Front area of thePagoda

The Front area of thePagoda

Pagoda Courtyard area

Pagoda Courtyard area

As we walked to the tallest building in the complex, we saw a lot of activity with people dressed up in Song Dynasty Clothng. A show dealing with life in old Bian was about to take place.

Showtime is coming soon

Showtime is coming soon

There were three separate sections to the presentation with several people being arrested and a couple getting married Song Dynasty style. It was very entertaining and kept me busy with photography.

An Actor

An Actor

A Sheng Player

A Sheng Player

Pagoda up close

Pagoda up close

Headed for the exit, we came across another show taking place on the edge of a beautiful pond with a small pagoda. Acrobats as good as any we have seen in China gave a great show. It was during this show that my camera began to have problems. The camera, a Canon A640, did not want to extend its lens and gave me a lens error. Oh no! I finally got it to work after a few minutes and forgot about it as we finished and exited the complex.

A Small Pagoda

A Small Pagoda

Acrobats

Acrobats

Nicely done landscapedpond

Nicely done landscapedpond

Carved wooden Elephant near the pagoda

Carved wooden Elephant near the pagoda

Flower with pond as backdrop

Flower with pond as backdrop

It was getting late so we went back to our hotel, cleaned up and relaxed for a couple of hours before heading out to see what surprises the night market held for us.

Love that Chinese Bread

Love that Chinese Bread

Stuffed baked buns

Stuffed baked buns

Kaifeng Assortment of goodies

Kaifeng Assortment of goodies

Kaifen Special dumplings or Jaodz 饺子

Kaifen Special dumplings or Jaodz 饺子

A plate full of fried dumplings or Guotieh 锅贴

A plate full of fried dumplings or Guotieh 锅贴

Making Candy

Making Candy

We got plenty to eat and the night market was as exciting a place as every night market we had visited all over China. Love this city!

Posted by inchinahil 06:31 Archived in China Tagged architecture tourist_sites kaifeng ancient_town buddhist_temples song_dynasty henan_province Comments (0)

Courtyard Dream House Adventure (July 21-23)

Linfen, Shaanxi Province


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Linfeng

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.

ByeBye to Susie

ByeBye to Susie

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.

Quick view of Anzexian Pagoda

Quick view of Anzexian Pagoda

A typical Shanxi CaveHouse

A typical Shanxi CaveHouse

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.

City Center Linfen Bell Tower

City Center Linfen Bell Tower

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.

The Recently Built  Yao Monument

The Recently Built Yao Monument

Giant Wine Pitcher

Giant Wine Pitcher

Red and Gold Knocker

Red and Gold Knocker

Monument to somebody inside hotel courtyard

Monument to somebody inside hotel courtyard

Smaller Replica of Temple of Heaven

Smaller Replica of Temple of Heaven

Commercial Chinese-style Red Building in the area of the monument

Commercial Chinese-style Red Building in the area 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.

A Narrow Street to a Ming Dynasty Pagoda

A Narrow Street to a Ming Dynasty Pagoda

Welcome waves a Mao statue

Welcome waves a Mao statue

Another view of the Pagoda

Another view of the Pagoda

Double Red Door Knockers - I could not resist a photo

Double Red Door Knockers - I could not resist a photo

A closer look at the Big Knocker

A closer look at the Big Knocker

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.

DingCun Entrance

DingCun Entrance

A typical Dingcun courtyard or hsiheyuan

A typical Dingcun courtyard or hsiheyuan

Map of the area

Map of the area

An Old Ming Door

An Old Ming Door

Another Courtyard

Another Courtyard

Yet Another Courtyard

Yet Another Courtyard

House Shrine

House Shrine

An Old Watercolor

An Old Watercolor

Traditional Drum

Traditional Drum

Still another Courtyard

Still another Courtyard

Containers for ...?

Containers for ...?

Genuine Chinese Ming and Qing Stuff

Genuine Chinese Ming and Qing Stuff

Welcome! Come in and get comfortable

Welcome! Come in and get comfortable

Another HouseShrine

Another HouseShrine

Side view of one of the seven courtyards

Side view of one of the seven courtyards

Twin Doors into a main building in one of the courtyards

Twin Doors into a main building in one of the courtyards

And behind the Orange Door

And behind the Orange Door

A Modern Rusty Lock

A Modern Rusty Lock

A seriously Bulky Door

A seriously Bulky Door

Good Luck is behind this Door

Good Luck is behind this Door

Another Old Courtyard

Another Old Courtyard

Qing Carved Doorway

Qing Carved Doorway

Sunee doing some Filming for our upcoming movie

Sunee doing some Filming for our upcoming movie

Cranes

Cranes

A very friendly local Weaver

A very friendly local Weaver

Traditional Red Paper to Guard the Doors

Traditional Red Paper to Guard the Doors

Hey, it is an old wooden Door

Hey, it is an old wooden Door

And here is a brick Oval Door

And here is a brick Oval Door

Posing at the Oval Door frame

Posing at the Oval Door frame

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.

Time for Western-style Ice Cream

Time for Western-style Ice Cream

The lights were turned on in the Bell Tower and at night it was very nice.

The Bell Tower ablaze

The Bell Tower ablaze

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.

The Huge Yao Statue - work still in progress

The Huge Yao Statue - work still in progress

Inside a Cave House in Fushan County

Inside a Cave House in Fushan County

Nice Watercolor

Nice Watercolor

Sophie friendly and hospitable Aunt

Sophie friendly and hospitable Aunt

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!

Ground floor corridor around the Front of the Pagoda

Ground floor corridor around the Front of the Pagoda

The magnificent Flying Rainbow Pagoda

The magnificent Flying Rainbow Pagoda

An ancient Buddha image on the second floor inside the middle of the structure

An ancient Buddha image on the second floor inside the middle of the structure

In total darkness, looking up at the Buddha image

In total darkness, looking up at the Buddha image

Orange accented Door and Buddha image

Orange accented Door and Buddha image

Working Seated Monk

Working Seated Monk

Inside one of the many niches in the temple area

Inside one of the many niches in the temple area

A Brown Buddha image

A Brown Buddha image

Incense Burner

Incense Burner

A Square Incense Burner - the kind we had been looking for

A Square Incense Burner - the kind we had been looking for

A different view of the pagoda

A different view of the pagoda

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.

The Big Pizza where one can have all the pizza in the world

The Big Pizza where one can have all the pizza in the world

A better and cheaper Pizza Place

A better and cheaper Pizza Place

Ordering a Pizza - the owners English was excellent

Ordering a Pizza - the owners English was excellent

Our Pizza Arrives

Our Pizza Arrives

This is My Pizza

This is My Pizza

Closeup of the Pizza to prove it really was Western-style

Closeup of the Pizza to prove it really was Western-style

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.

An After pizza snack

An After pizza snack

More Snacks

More Snacks

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.

Posted by inchinahil 06:26 Archived in China Tagged china ancient_town courtyard_house buddhist-temple linfen shanxi_province Comments (0)

Courtyard Dream House Adventure (July 24)

Pingyao and hundreds of courtyard houses. First Day


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Pingyao

Caught the train right on schedule as Sophia bits us goodbye. Linfen was a great adventure with really good examples of Chinese courtyard houses we were seeking. Told Sophia I would see her at Southwest Jiaotong University in a couple of months and we were off.

ByeBye Linfen and Sophie

ByeBye Linfen and Sophie

Sophies bits us GoodBye from the train station

Sophies bits us GoodBye from the train station

And it is off to Pingyao

And it is off to Pingyao

Next where we picked up passengers. It is definitely Coa lCountry

Next where we picked up passengers. It is definitely Coa lCountry

Harvest Time along the tracks

Harvest Time along the tracks

The Pingyao bus station did not have anything that indicated there was a very famous city some place in the area. We got a small golf cart like taxi to the famous city and, sure enough, it was completely surrounded by a Ming-style wall (think baby Xian here). The taxi actually entered the city and went out of its way to get us close to our hotel which we had picked out of an internet travel guide. Actually, we just told him the name of the hotel in hopes of getting us close to hotels we could check out. The reason we had to take all the back alleys in Pingyao was simple - the main tourist streets were walking streets only.

We looked at several courtyard house hotels and decided on a quaint little Ming Dynasty hotel in the center of the town. Sunee negotiated a pretty good price for the three days we planned to stay. After getting our room and taking a quick shower, we were off to find all those courtyard houses we had been reading about.

Main street - Pingyao Style

Main street - Pingyao Style

Street Scenes were heavily tourist oriented but authentic

Street Scenes were heavily tourist oriented but authentic

The main street Pagoda - View from the other side

The main street Pagoda - View from the other side

Shanxi is famous for its Paper cuts - we bought some, of course

Shanxi is famous for its Paper cuts - we bought some, of course

An old Qing Dynasty (it is guessing) wooden building

An old Qing Dynasty (it is guessing) wooden building

Panorama view of Pingyao

Panorama view of Pingyao

Need a taxi? Here is a Red one

Need a taxi? Here is a Red one

Do you think there are a lot of tourists who visit here?

Do you think there are a lot of tourists who visit here?

A Red shop selling noodles

A Red shop selling noodles

Some nice Buddha Images

Some nice Buddha Images

Shop for Chops

Shop for Chops

Person hole cover - Qing Dynasty had person holes!!!!

Person hole cover - Qing Dynasty had person holes!!!!

Only two Yuan for this nifty needle threader.  Never have found it since

Only two Yuan for this nifty needle threader. Never have found it since

Western Food for Westerners or Chinese who like such things

Western Food for Westerners or Chinese who like such things

Lots of beautifully carved wooden Doors - Mao era

Lots of beautifully carved wooden Doors - Mao era

More papercuts. These things are actually done on a big machine then cleaned up by hand. They make nice gifts

More papercuts. These things are actually done on a big machine then cleaned up by hand. They make nice gifts

A local Painting Class down one of the side alleys

A local Painting Class down one of the side alleys

Drawing Students

Drawing Students

An old Street off the main tourist thoroughfare

An old Street off the main tourist thoroughfare

The Pingyao Ming Wall

The Pingyao Ming Wall

It was late and we had been walking around for about three hours and decided to find a restaurant. We had typical Chinese food that would be found just about anywhere. While dining, this nice family asked if they could take a picture with them. They did and we did. Very nice family from Beijing as I recall.

Gotta tell you that Pingyao is really better than advertised. Yes, it is very touristy but the building and things we saw are obviously authentic. It feels like a late Ming, early Qing city with its style and layout (as if I would know how such a thing feels). We both liked the way things felt and looked.

A Friendly Family

A Friendly Family

Posted by inchinahil 06:25 Archived in China Tagged architecture tourist_sites pingyao ancient_town buddhist_temples shanxi_province Comments (0)

Courtyard Dream House Adventure (July 25)

Another Day in Pingyao


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Pingyao is as good as advertised. The houses are beautiful, the people friendly and the shopping great.

Our second day started with a quick breakfast and then more exploration of courtyard houses. So many, it is easy to get confused which one was which one. These houses reinforced our opinion that the courts are small and when the Chinese need to expand they did so by building additional courtsyards around the original. Most of the Pingyao courtyard houses were small with no more than two or three courts each. Most had a single courtyard.

I think this might have been a Shoe Store

I think this might have been a Shoe Store

This is a typical Pingyao Small Courtyard House Design

This is a typical Pingyao Small Courtyard House Design

Caligraphy done for you on the spot

Caligraphy done for you on the spot

A nice Treasure Chest

A nice Treasure Chest

Interesting Wheel Cart near the entrance to another courtyard

Interesting Wheel Cart near the entrance to another courtyard

A family Buddha

A family Buddha

Taking a Courtyard break

Taking a Courtyard break

I might be just taking pictures, but I also needed a break

I might be just taking pictures, but I also needed a break

Follow me into this landscaped courtyard

Follow me into this landscaped courtyard

A very impressive landscaped courtyard

A very impressive landscaped courtyard

A rickshaw Cart for weddings and other transportation

A rickshaw Cart for weddings and other transportation

She figures we are about here

She figures we are about here

A cool (as in temperature_ Cave Temple

A cool (as in temperature_ Cave Temple

Another nice all purpose Cart

Another nice all purpose Cart

A very ancient Pedistal

A very ancient Pedistal

Was there a Chinese Robin Hood?TGT

Was there a Chinese Robin Hood?TGT

Aiming a bit too much, don't you think?

Aiming a bit too much, don't you think?

Stone Stairs heading to the library

Stone Stairs heading to the library

Treasure Chest Cart ready to roll

Treasure Chest Cart ready to roll

A Ming Dynasty Cup

A Ming Dynasty Cup

A Ming Dynasty Door

A Ming Dynasty Door

The dreaded Blue Window among the grayish bricks

The dreaded Blue Window among the grayish bricks

A very Old House not yet renovated

A very Old House not yet renovated

Another Local Temple

Another Local Temple

A Temple Inside another Local Temple

A Temple Inside another Local Temple

Another temple inside a cool Cave

Another temple inside a cool Cave

Ancient Wooden Buddha

Ancient Wooden Buddha

YACC - Yet Another Cool CaveTemple

YACC - Yet Another Cool CaveTemple

A Small Courtyard Display - this was about number 45 or so

A Small Courtyard Display - this was about number 45 or so

Nice Family Shrine

Nice Family Shrine

Loved the Shadows and light in this photo

Loved the Shadows and light in this photo

Another Cave done in red

Another Cave done in red

Respect

Respect

Bats are not bad in China. They are Good Luck as we found out later in our stay in China.

The Bat Sign

The Bat Sign

Bat Sign from a distance

Bat Sign from a distance

Now this is an Impressive entrance

Now this is an Impressive entrance

There are Old Doorways just about everywhere

There are Old Doorways just about everywhere

A Stone Entrance is still just an entrance

A Stone Entrance is still just an entrance

This was the most Elegant Entrance to a courtyard we saw

This was the most Elegant Entrance to a courtyard we saw

Another courtyard Entrance. There were too many to count

Another courtyard Entrance. There were too many to count

Putting an urn  in front to be different. Maybe.

Putting an urn in front to be different. Maybe.

The Dao Sign

The Dao Sign

A Ming Dynasty Store Front

A Ming Dynasty Store Front

One of the Watch Towers on the Ming Wall

One of the Watch Towers on the Ming Wall

The Pingyao Wall

The Pingyao Wall

Guards

Guards

Essentials

Essentials

Our Ming Dynasty era Courtyard Hotel

Our Ming Dynasty era Courtyard Hotel

We spent about ten hours or so meandering through the allies and streets of this really great city. Saw more courtyard houses than I care to remember. I did make some sketches and have a pretty good feel for how this architectural design was built. We also did a little shopping, picking up a few gifts along the way. Overall, this was a highlight of our trip up until now. We loved Pingyao very much.

Posted by inchinahil 06:24 Archived in China Tagged architecture china tourist_sites ancient_town courtyard_house shanxi_province Comments (0)

Courtyard Dream House Adventure (July 26)

First Day in Taiyuan


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Taiyuan

During our exploration of Pingyao, we walked outside the walled city and had a decent dinner at a small restaurant. Found out there were buses going to Taiyuan just about every hour on the hour. We walked over to the bus station and got a schedule, deciding to take an early morning bus to Taiyuan. We went back to our hotel, packed and got ready to leave in the morning around 0800.

The bus trip took around three hours and got us to Taiyuan at around 1300. We got a taxi and started looking for a good hotel to stay during our visit. We saw a Home Inn and tried to check in. All was fine until I walked through the front door. Seems this was a bushiwai hotels that did not allow foreigners. Weird since the hotel signs were all in English outside. We were not happy as we had stayed in a Home Inn in our trip to Guiyang in Guizhou Province. We had to get another taxi and we were not happy.

Funny how things seem to work out. The taxi driver was very understanding and took us to the Hanting Hotel not too far away. An excellent hotel with excellent service at a decent price. The taxi driver was so nice and helpful, I had to take a picture of him. He made us feel extremely welcomed.

The most Helpful Taxi driver we met during the entire adventure

The most Helpful Taxi driver we met during the entire adventure

Got settled into the Hanting Hotel and decided to explore the local sites. I had read about the Twin Pagoda Temple 双塔死 so we got directions, found our bus, and ended up at the temple after a forty minute ride. It was a very nice temple with two great Ming Dynasty Pagodas built around 1608.

The Twin Pagoda Bus Station

The Twin Pagoda Bus Station

View of the Twin Pagodas from the road

View of the Twin Pagodas from the road

Dragon Window

Dragon Window

Chinese Oval Window

Chinese Oval Window

The 13 storied Twin Pagodas

The 13 storied Twin Pagodas

On  the way to check one  of the pagodas out

On the way to check one of the pagodas out

Oval Door into a garden

Oval Door into a garden

Oh, NO! Not another Door Knocker

Oh, NO! Not another Door Knocker

This is the Second Pagoda

This is the Second Pagoda

Here are the Twins from Inside

Here are the Twins from Inside

Can't seem to get enough Ovals

Can't seem to get enough Ovals

Sunee at the Oval

Sunee at the Oval

A Small Buddha in a niche inside the second pagoda

A Small Buddha in a niche inside the second pagoda

Looking up at the center Inside Pagoda number two

Looking up at the center Inside Pagoda number two

View of Pagoda, nicely Framed

View of Pagoda, nicely Framed

Twins with Red accents

Twins with Red accents

Door to a Roof

Door to a Roof

Finally, a resting place

Finally, a resting place

Horse through an Oval

Horse through an Oval

The Big Bell pardons all sins

The Big Bell pardons all sins

Burner at the Front

Burner at the Front

Red Buddha Orange

Red Buddha Orange

Red Buddha Close

Red Buddha Close

A Robed Buddha

A Robed Buddha

Two Red Buddhas

Two Red Buddhas

Time to relax

Time to relax

A nice little temple which was easy to get to and a joy to visit. Got some really good pagoda photos and we picked up a couple of small mementos from the gift shop.

Posted by inchinahil 06:24 Archived in China Tagged china tourist_sites ancient_town buddhist-temple shaanxi_province taiyuan Comments (0)

Courtyard Dream House Adventure (July 27)

Taiyuan and Yuci Ancient Town


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Yuci Ancient Town

Prior to making this trip, I had compiled a list of possible sites to visit along the way. One of these places was the ancient town of Yuci located about an hour from Taiyuan. I could not find a lot about it, just that there was such a place. There might be some courtyard houses there so we decided to find it and afterward go visit the Chang Family Manor which seems to be on every tourist must visit location.

The bus to Yuci was hard to find but eventually after several inquiries we located where to catch it. A true local bus without any amenities at all. The trip was about an hour and it took us to a small suburban area that was rather unimpressive. However, we did see the area which was built up for tourist so that is where we headed. We were not disappointed.

Entrance to the ancient town Yuci

Entrance to the ancient town Yuci

Seems that all over China, if a town has an area that is old and still intact, the locals are trying to take advantage of it by renovation and setting up services. It is a good idea to attract people (mostly Chinese tourists).

A famous Thai Movie Star

A famous Thai Movie Star

A Yuci Ming/Qing Dynasty Street Scene

A Yuci Ming/Qing Dynasty Street Scene

An Ancient doorway awaiting renovation

An Ancient doorway awaiting renovation

The ferocious and photogenic Guard Lion

The ferocious and photogenic Guard Lion

One knows he or she is in an ancient city . . . The Tower Entrance

One knows he or she is in an ancient city . . . The Tower Entrance

Bridge to a local Temple

Bridge to a local Temple

Bridge with Gazebo

Bridge with Gazebo

Some very Friendly local Students

Some very Friendly local Students

Traditional Stone Stairs

Traditional Stone Stairs

Behind the Green Door

Behind the Green Door

How about a Jello Snack

How about a Jello Snack

A well-preserved Ming ancient entrance Door

A well-preserved Ming ancient entrance Door

An Old Wood and Stone Door

An Old Wood and Stone Door

The Center of the ancientTown

The Center of the ancientTown

Almost all of these tourist locations offer photography services where one can dress in period costumes and have your picture taken. For all of five yuan you can pose for as many pictures as you like, as long as a friend owns the camera.

Sunee Posing in Qing Dynasty (or is it Ming Dynasty) costume

Sunee Posing in Qing Dynasty (or is it Ming Dynasty) costume

Local Girls are not shy and take advantage of foreigners for posing purposes

Local Girls are not shy and take advantage of foreigners for posing purposes

Talk about being in deep trouble

Talk about being in deep trouble

Knock, Knock

Knock, Knock

Here are our two Friends enjoying the costumes

Here are our two Friends enjoying the costumes

The bike in the door of a courtyard house

The bike in the door of a courtyard house

Behind the Red GreenDoor

Behind the Red GreenDoor

Picturesque Sago Palm

Picturesque Sago Palm

It was a very pleasant four or five hours we spent exploring the town. The people were friendly and the photo ops were many. We were now interested in visiting one of the biggy tourist attractions in Shanxi - The Chang Family Manor. Big disappointment. The ticket personnel were nasty and refused to allow senior foreigners to enter at half price. Chinese seniors yes. Foreign seniors no. This, even though we were working in China at Chinese wages and paying Chinese taxes. No thank you. We do not do racist sites.

The Chang Racist Manor from a distance

The Chang Racist Manor from a distance

If you have seen one manor, you have probably seen them all. Advertising how great the Chang family was. Yeh, right!

If you have seen one manor, you have probably seen them all. Advertising how great the Chang family was. Yeh, right!

Wasted only a half hour to go and a half hour to come back. Just in time for some good Shanxi noodles.

Noodles for dinner

Noodles for dinner

We took the bus back to Taiyuan and caught a taxi to our hotel. We decided to try to catch a train to Hefei our next stop. After getting the tickets (not cheap), we found that airline tickets were just a little bit more expensive. It cost us 160 yuan to get our money back and buy the tickets to Hefei.

We were close enough to our hotel that we walked About a block from the hotel was a guy showing off his monkeys. When I took a picture one of his stooges attacked me and demanded money. I just smiled and shook my head in utter confusion then walked away. Performing on a street for me is fair game. Anyway, it was obvious that the monkeys were suffering.

Monkey and their anti-PETA handlers

Monkey and their anti-PETA handlers

We had been walking all day so this evening we crashed early in our hotel.

Posted by inchinahil 06:24 Archived in China Tagged architecture buddhism tourist_sites ancient_town courtyard_house buddhist-temple taiyuan yuci shanxi_province Comments (0)

Courtyard Dream House Adventure (July 30)

Last Day in Taiyuan and Visit to Jinci Temple


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Jinci Temple

Jinci Temple was built in the Bei Wei dynasty (386-534 AD) but has connections to earlier temples built during the Western Zhou Dynasty over 1500 years ago. It is one of China's finest examples of an imperial garden. The internet said it was nice and all the guide books said it was a must see so we gave it a visit.

We caught a city bus about a block from our hotel after checking out and leaving our bags under lock and key. The 14 or so miles to Jinci Temple was very pleasant with friendly people getting of and gettin on at every location. The temple itself is about a twenty minute walk from the bus stop. As we walked to the temple entrance we met a couple of college students home on vacation. Of course, they were sweet and marvelous to visit with. We followed them around for awhile and then took off on our own for another wonderful adventure.

Very friendly College students home on summer vacation

Very friendly College students home on summer vacation

Chinese Zodiac at the first entrance

Chinese Zodiac at the first entrance

A nice Iron Lion guarding that first entrance

A nice Iron Lion guarding that first entrance

Walkway off to the right on the way to the main entrance

Walkway off to the right on the way to the main entrance

This looked to be a recent addition but a nice stone Carving

This looked to be a recent addition but a nice stone Carving

Everyone was taking pictures of these recent statues so....

Everyone was taking pictures of these recent statues so....

figured I might as well get in the picture as well

figured I might as well get in the picture as well

Near the stone carving we met another vacationing Student student with her mother

Near the stone carving we met another vacationing Student student with her mother

Chinese Lotus

Chinese Lotus

Anyone for some nice grapes. These things are expensive in Thailand

Anyone for some nice grapes. These things are expensive in Thailand

I called this the Eye temple

I called this the Eye temple

Nice view of one of the big garden and landscaped area. This is before one gets to the main entrance

Nice view of one of the big garden and landscaped area. This is before one gets to the main entrance

Theater in one of the garden areas

Theater in one of the garden areas

Chinese Oval

Chinese Oval

A very serene garden scene

A very serene garden scene

Jinci Temple is huge and goes on and on up the side of a mountain. The main hall is called Saint Mother Hall. It attracts many visitors because its extreme age and good shape for being the oldest building in the temple complex. It along with a couple of other similar buildings looked old. Not because they were run down, the architecture looked and felt ancient. They are impressive indeed.

Saint Mother Hall

Saint Mother Hall

A tourist posing for my picture

A tourist posing for my picture

Guess what? Another oval window

Guess what? Another oval window

These ancient carvings are all over the place

These ancient carvings are all over the place

Kinda looks like Song Dynasty ladies if I were to guess. All of them were completely different

Kinda looks like Song Dynasty ladies if I were to guess. All of them were completely different

A unique corner building

A unique corner building

To the left of Saint Mother Hall as you face it is the weirdest spring I have ever seen. It is supposed to have been around for a long time and is called Never Aging Spring. Figured I had better get some water from it.

Never Aging Spring

Never Aging Spring

Running spring water

Running spring water

The spring water filled up these ponds and then overflowed into a nice creek

The spring water filled up these ponds and then overflowed into a nice creek

I had read about the four iron men of Jinci on the internet (http://www.china-lifestyle.com/the-iron-men-of-jinci). It made for a good story and here I am with one of these famous guys.

One of the famous cast iron men of Jinci

One of the famous cast iron men of Jinci

Posing at the Red Doors

Posing at the Red Doors

Another ancient Iron Lion

Another ancient Iron Lion

The unique Flying Bridge is the only such bridge left in existence

The unique Flying Bridge is the only such bridge left in existence

I loved this time of year in China - Peaches!!

I loved this time of year in China - Peaches!!

There were several Hawkers outside the entrance to the main complex. We bought a map and some other mementos from one of them.

There were several Hawkers outside the entrance to the main complex. We bought a map and some other mementos from one of them.

We walked back to the bus station and had to wait about fifteen minutes to get on a very crowded bus. The bus ride back was even friendlier than the one we took coming in. What a pleasant adventure.

The crowded cityBus

The crowded cityBus

We never turn down Xinjiang-style bread. They put some additional topings on for our evening Dinner

We never turn down Xinjiang-style bread. They put some additional topings on for our evening Dinner

We returned to our hotel, picked up our luggage and got a taxi to the airport, several miles away. The airport was not very large and this late, there were only a couple of planes worth of passengers.

Posted by inchinahil 06:23 Archived in China Tagged architecture ancient_town buddhist_temples taiyuan jinci_temple shanxi_province Comments (0)

Courtyard Dream House Adventure (August 2)

Huangshan Area


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Tunxi

This morning we got up fairly early and took a taxi to the south bus station where we caught the bus to Tunxi in the Huangshan area. The trip took about four hours and the scenery was fabulous. Lots of tea plantations along the way.

A relaxed bus trip

A relaxed bus trip

Sunee never relaxes, she is always studying Chinese

Sunee never relaxes, she is always studying Chinese

A nice tea plantation along the road

A nice tea plantation along the road

Tea Plants

Tea Plants

We arrived to Tunxi and got a taxi to a reasonable hotel on the edge of the ancient town. A nice hotel and a nice location. We got checked in then spent the rest of the day exploring the ancient streets and buildings mostly Ming Dynasty style.

Tunxi Ancient Arch

Tunxi Ancient Arch

Ancient street

Ancient street

Tunxi is famous for the four treasures of study: paper, brushes, ink and ink stones. We ended up shopping quite a bit for Sunee to find some nice brushes and ink. She was not interested in the ink stones nor the paper. The paper we could buy in Chengdu and it is the best one can buy.

Buying one of the four treasures:Brushes

Buying one of the four treasures:Brushes

One must always check the brushes before buying

One must always check the brushes before buying

And continue to check them

And continue to check them

A college student on his summer break

A college student on his summer break

More ancient streets

More ancient streets

Tunxi and Anhui are famous for their stinky tofu. Boy was it stinky!

Molded, rotten, stinky dofu

Molded, rotten, stinky dofu

Not Sunee's favorite

Not Sunee's favorite

A unique wooden Street sign

A unique wooden Street sign

Fabulous Ming Dynasty wooden building

Fabulous Ming Dynasty wooden building

Weaving as a tourist attraction

Weaving as a tourist attraction

We never turn down Chinese baked bread

We never turn down Chinese baked bread

Took us most of the day, but we finally came to the end of the ancient streets of Tunxi. Time for dinner and local cuisine. Found a nice restaurant and ordered locally. After dinner we enjoyed the sunset on the local lake.

The local cuisine

The local cuisine

Sunset

Sunset

Posted by inchinahil 06:22 Archived in China Tagged food architecture shopping tea huangshan tunxi ancient_town buddhist-temple anhui-province Comments (0)

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