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Entries about taiyuan

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 28 - 29)

The Wooden Pagoda and Hanging Monastery of Yingxian County


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YingXian County

Welcome to the YingXian Muta or Wooden Pagoda. The pagoda is in the Fogong or Buddha Palace Temple. It was build in 1056 and is considered to be one of the oldest (if not the oldest) standing wooden pagoda in the world.

We took a bus from Taiyuan which took about three and a half hours to the first largest town. We then caught a local bus to the site of the temple. It was obvious that the town had been renovated as a tourist site because the streets were very clean and the buildings either renovated or newly built in the appropriate style.

We first tried to get a room across the street from the temple but the people there were rather rude and let us know we were not welcome. Thus, we decided to wonder around the area since we felt it was a bit late to actually and officially visit the temple complex. I did take a few pictures in the area of the temple but refrained most of the time because we planned to be back the following morning.

Very Clean Streets

Very Clean Streets

Sneaking a picture with a Liberal Donkey

Sneaking a picture with a Liberal Donkey

Wooden Pogada Entrance

Wooden Pogada Entrance

Framed

Framed

Tourist view with Sunee

Tourist view with Sunee

I had to have one for myself as well

I had to have one for myself as well

We found a decent hotel about four blocks away and after finding a light dinner, we checked in and called it a day. At around 0400, the lights in the hotel went out and when we checked out at around 0900, they were still very much out. No one seemed bothered so we figured it was a common occurrence.

Walking back over to the temple, we got a quick bowl of noodles and made our official visit to this tourist site.

Entrance Tickets priced for seniors

Entrance Tickets priced for seniors

Welcome from Guanyin Image

Welcome from Guanyin Image

Another view of Guanyin

Another view of Guanyin

Front view of the complex (Fogong Temple)

Front view of the complex (Fogong Temple)

Door into the temple complex

Door into the temple complex

Tough flowers Growing on Cement

Tough flowers Growing on Cement

Close up of these tough Flowers

Close up of these tough Flowers

View of the pagoda among the flowers

View of the pagoda among the flowers

Sunee was not very willing, but I coaxed her into climbing some really old stairs to the second floor of the pagoda. There can be no doubt that his building is really as old as advertised. When we got to the second floor (all other floors were closed), we met a very nice monk from northern China. Sunee and the monk walked around the area of the second floor visiting for about 15 minutes while I took pictures. Sunee was not as anxious as she was previous to meeting the monk.

Monk who was friendly and calm

Monk who was friendly and calm

Another Front View of the Buddha image

Another Front View of the Buddha image

The always ferocious  Red Door Guard

The always ferocious Red Door Guard

Lion Dogs are a standard feature at all Buddhist temples

Lion Dogs are a standard feature at all Buddhist temples

Very ancient Rock Carving. May be the oldest part of the whole place

Very ancient Rock Carving. May be the oldest part of the whole place

Wooden Pagoda Close view

Wooden Pagoda Close view

The Buddha Palace plaza

The Buddha Palace plaza

A nicely renovated Side Temple

A nicely renovated Side Temple

A framed incense Burner

A framed incense Burner

A really Big Incense Burner

A really Big Incense Burner

A Buddha on the side

A Buddha on the side

My best photo of the pagoda

My best photo of the pagoda

We finished our visit and walked back to the hotel to collect our luggage. Our next stop was the Hanging Monastery or Xuankong Si 悬空寺. The most famous temple in the area, Hanging Monastery is around 5km/3mi from Hunyuan city. The monastery was built near the Pass of the Golden Dragon (Jinlong Kou) on a rock-face 30m/100ft above the valley floor. Some of the smaller halls of this 6th century AD monastery are supported by thin stilts which stand on rock precipices. There are supposed to be a lot of ancient items inside the monastery but the whole parking lot of jammed with visitors. I took several pictures form afar and then we took a taxi to the local Hunyuan city bus station. The local bus from the Wooden Pagoda dropped us off at the river outside the city and we had to take a taxi to the monastery. It was eleven Yuan. The taxi that took us to the bus station was twenty Yuan and, unknown to us, it was within walking distance. Bet the taxi driver was boasting how he had ripped the dumb foreigners off. We were tired and hot so it did not matter.

The famous Hanging Monastery of Hengshan

The famous Hanging Monastery of Hengshan

A closer view of the Monastery

A closer view of the Monastery

Distant View from the parking lot

Distant View from the parking lot

We had a two hour wait for the bus back to Taiyuan. It was nice to relax and eat some of the snacks they served in the bus station. Our trip to Ying Xian was very pleasant and rewarding. The people, even the taxi driver who cheated us, were friendly (except at the first hotel) and we visited with many people along the way. Life in China is not bad and, in fact, appears to be pleasant for most people. Most of the people we met were locals who were living their life like everyone else in the world. They were curious about us foreigners but were not shy. Often we would be asked a question to start a conversation. It was obvious that these people are nice and wonderful. Shanxi appears to be a pretty good place to live, even though it is considered one of the poorest provinces in China. Believe this is due to its location close to the central government who siphons off Shanxi coal for use elsewhere in China.

We have plane tickets for the evening flight to Hefei. Figured we could go visit another famous temple complex in Taiyuan - Jinci Temple.

Posted by inchinahil 06:23 Archived in China Tagged buildings architecture tourist_sites buddhist_temples taiyuan wooden_pagoda 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 (July 31 - August 1)

Taiyuan to Hefei, Anhui Province


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Hefei

Our plane was supposed to take off for Hefei at around 2030 (8:30pm). Unfortunately it got delayed and we ended up waiting for nearly five hours. Hey, if one has to wait, why not at an airport.

Waiting at leisure at Taiyuan Airport

Waiting at leisure at Taiyuan Airport

We are finally scheduled to leave

We are finally scheduled to leave

It was very early in the morning (0230) by the time we got to the Hanting Hotel in Hefei. We were both tired from the long day that we slept in. Got up and had a leisurely breakfast (the hotel supplied me with a KFC breakfast to go). The morning was late so we decided to check out the local tea market area to find some famous Anhui Province tea. I was especially interested in getting some Tai Ping Hou Kuei green tea. It was a nice visit to the tea market which was not busy at all.

Melon Pieces green tea

Melon Pieces green tea

There was definitely tea for sale here

There was definitely tea for sale here

I had read about what teas to buy while in Anhui Province. In Hefei, one would want to buy the Taiping Houkuei and the Lo An Guapian (Melon Pieces) green teas. And that is exactly what we were looking for. The Taiping Houkuei or monkey picked green tea comes from Taiping lake and is very unique in its shape and color. The Lo An Guapian comes from the Lo-an district outside Hefei.

The world famous Tai Ping Hou Kuei tea

The world famous Tai Ping Hou Kuei tea

Testing a good quality taiping houkuei

Testing a good quality taiping houkuei

Big variety of tea

Big variety of tea

Some huangshan maofeng green tea

Some huangshan maofeng green tea

Negotiating for our Taiping Houkuei tea

Negotiating for our Taiping Houkuei tea

It had been a long day previously so all we did the remainder of the day is walk around and do some shopping. I got a great collection of tea music cds and dvds at the local book and music store. We took an early dinner and went to bed early. Older folks are like that!

The next morning we were up early and walked behind the hotel for an Anhui Province breakfast. I had already had my KFC breakfast to go but Sunee was hungry.

Hefei Breakfast

Hefei Breakfast

During my research on Hefei and its attraction, I came upon a small article about a newly opened ancient town not far from Hefei. We decided it would be an adventure to visit it. It was called Sanhe 三和. It was supposed to be 2500 years old with a beautiful buildings and river. The bus took about a half hour to get to. It was not disappointing at all

Entrance to Sanhe ancient town

Entrance to Sanhe ancient town

Part of the town had a wall around it which looked to have been freshly renovated. Sort of like a fort with its own canon.

The deadly canon of Sanhe

The deadly canon of Sanhe

An unusual and old lantern

An unusual and old lantern

Some of the local cuisine. Glad I had that KFC breakfast because this food looked a little rough

Some of the local cuisine. Glad I had that KFC breakfast because this food looked a little rough

The local transportation

The local transportation

A walled courtyard style building

A walled courtyard style building

A very nice river view

A very nice river view

Along the river

Along the river

The Sanhe pagoda

The Sanhe pagoda

River portrait

River portrait

A small temple

A small temple

A diligent wood carver

A diligent wood carver

Sanhe street scene

Sanhe street scene

Fanmakers

Fanmakers

Very Chinese stand of weeping willows

Very Chinese stand of weeping willows

We spent most of the day in Sanhe and had a traditional Sanhe lunch. Actually, this is a joke as we asked for a typical local style lunch and ended up with some sliced tomatoes sprinkled with sugar. We still joke about the local Sanhe cuisine.

After getting back to Hefei a little late we decided to find a restaurant within walking distance from the hotel. Found a restaurant that served fast food style Chinese food. Nothing great but OK. We did not find anything exceptional about this province's cuisine. On the way back from the restaurant I came across this Rolls Royce. Took me a few minutes but then I realized it was sitting in front of a wedding studio. This is very common in the larger cities in China.

An end to another great adventure in China.

17_Rolls

17_Rolls

Posted by inchinahil 06:22 Archived in China Tagged shopping taiyuan hefei anhui_province Comments (0)

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