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Courtyard Dream House Adventure (July 19)

Song Dynasty Capital Theme Park And The Iron Pagoda


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Qingmingshanhetu Park

We arrived to the park area at around 0800. We were not sure when it opened and had been told to get there early. We found the ticket booths opened at 0830 and the actual theme parked opened at 0930. This gave me some time to take a few pictures and look at the map of the place.

According to the signs, this place had been built by Hong Kong business people about two years previously. It only recently finished all the attractions planned. The park is called the Kaifeng Millennium City Park or Qingming Riverside Landscape Garden 清明山河突. It is a cultural park which depicts life in the Song Dynasty (960-1127) capitol of Bianjing 汴京.

Qingmingshanghetu

Qingmingshanghetu

Qingming Festival Landscape Garden Map

Qingming Festival Landscape Garden Map

Near the Entrance

Near the Entrance

At 0830 we lined up for our tickets and found there was a problem with the half-price tickets for seniors. No foreigner discount tickets, the lady told us. Mmmmm, that is interesting because the sign right above the ticket lady stated there was in English. We insisted so she sent us to her supervisor around the back.

The supervisor was very nice and we showed her the sign above the ticket booth in English. She then left to call her supervisor. About five minutes later she came back with our senior tickets. She was polite, cheerful and apologized for any misunderstanding. I love this city!

We have Ticket Problems

We have Ticket Problems

The Problems Resolved

The Problems Resolved

The Grand Opening ceremony started at 0900 and lasted about a half hour. Amidst loud horns, gongs and drums a bunch of make-believe soldiers and officials came out to welcome the guest. Hey, I liked it!

The Grand Official Opening

The Grand Official Opening

The Opening is a bit cheezy

The Opening is a bit cheezy

Horseman supporting the Opening

Horseman supporting the Opening

A soldier during the Opening

A soldier during the Opening

It was 0930 so we entered the Song Dynasty. The first thing we were confronted with was the statue of Zhang. Gotta take a picture, right?

Zhang Zeduan 张择端 inspired this theme park. He painted a huge long scroll depicting life along the riverside during the Song Dynasty. The scrolls was entitled Along the River During the Qingming Festival 清明上河图. Most of the sites and events in the park are depicted on this huge scroll. We ended up buying several copies of this scroll in several different formats. It is very nice.

Can't miss the Statue of Zhang Zeduan

Can't miss the Statue of Zhang Zeduan

A couple of nicely painted buildings on our left greeted us. Sunee immediately decided we should take a boat ride. Nice chance for pictures.

Nice Yellow building on the Left

Nice Yellow building on the Left

Large Orange building on the Dragon Pavilion Lake

Large Orange building on the Dragon Pavilion Lake

Lets take a boat on the Dragon Pavilion Lake

Lets take a boat on the Dragon Pavilion Lake

The famous Red Bridge over the river

The famous Red Bridge over the river

It is hot so here are Umbrellas

It is hot so here are Umbrellas

Need a Song guide

Need a Song guide

Closer to the Red Bridge

Closer to the Red Bridge

While in the boat we witnessed a reenactment of a merchant ship getting robbed by a bunch of pirates and then the local police doing in the pirates. There were angry shouts and a lot of shooting at each other. Again, a bit cheezy but I enjoyed the show.

The following are scenes as we floated on the lake.

Chinese merchant Ship in trouble

Chinese merchant Ship in trouble

A scene on the lake

A scene on the lake

The Main Pagoda

The Main Pagoda

Working Waterwheel

Working Waterwheel

One of many watergates

One of many watergates

When we disembarked, we met several mobile sales people with an efficient method of transporting their wares.

Efficient Mobil Sales everywhere

Efficient Mobil Sales everywhere

Throughout the garden, one finds activities to watch or interact with. They were fun to watch and made for interesting photos.

Guess your weight Man

Guess your weight Man

The local taxi service

The local taxi service

Song songster playing the crowd

Song songster playing the crowd

Donations to a roving monk

Donations to a roving monk

Fish feeding

Fish feeding

Need a light?

Need a light?

There were scenes from the Song Dynasty at every turn. Things to do and things to see.

Here are some Directions

Here are some Directions

A bridge scene

A bridge scene

Sunee beating the drum

Sunee beating the drum

Bet this is a Restaurant

Bet this is a Restaurant

One of the things we learned traveling around China is the Chinese love to dress up in period costumes for the camera. It is a cheap way to be entertained and Sunee and I get involved as often as we can

Dressing up for photos

Dressing up for photos

Important PhotoOp for the emperor

Important PhotoOp for the emperor

Another important PhotoOp

Another important PhotoOp

Sunee as a Song Princess

Sunee as a Song Princess

Do not mess with the chief magistrate of Bianjing!

The great magistrate

The great magistrate

It was during the costumes photo sessions that my little Canon A640 died again with a lens error. I could not bring it back to life so I began using the still camera on the Panasonic camcorder. Slow process but at least I will get some pictures. Is the A640 dead forever? That is the question we hope to answer sometime on our journey to find the perfect courtyard house.

Kaifeng Iron Pagoda

The Iron Pagoda (鐵塔) of Youguo Temple (佑國寺) is the symbol of Kaifeng City and a masterpiece of the Song Dynasty. It was built in 1049 AD
and is not made of iron but the color of the tiles looks like iron. Enough history! We left the Qingmingshanhetu and got a taxi to the Iron Pagoda where we spent the rest of the afternoon. It was a hot day so we did not tarry in the sun.

The Iron Pagoda Entrance

The Iron Pagoda Entrance

Youguo Temple Landscape

Youguo Temple Landscape

The Youguo Temple

The Youguo Temple

The Iron Pagoda

The Iron Pagoda

Nice side Doorway

Nice side Doorway

A distant View

A distant View

Happy and Fat Buddha

Happy and Fat Buddha

A framed View

A framed View

Quick Lunch of Kaifeng noodles

Quick Lunch of Kaifeng noodles

Antique picture of the Iron pagoda

Antique picture of the Iron pagoda

We spent about three hours at the Iron Pagoda. It was frustrating trying to use our Panasonic camcorder to take pictures. I had to wait for the camcorder to record each picture on the SD card making it impossible to take a lot of pictures. Got enough for a blog, though.

Posted by inchinahil 06:30 Archived in China Tagged bridges people architecture temple ancient tourist_sites song_dynasty henan_province qingmingshanghetu Comments (1)

Courtyard Dream House Adventure (July 20/21)

Changzhi, Shanxi Province


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Chang Zhi student visit

July 20, 2009

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

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

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

Very famous Shanxi Noodles

Very famous Shanxi Noodles

Another Shanxi Specialty

Another Shanxi Specialty

The great tasting Shanxi Pork

The great tasting Shanxi Pork

More Special Shanxi Noodles

More Special Shanxi Noodles

There was just too much Good Stuff on the table

There was just too much Good Stuff on the table

A wonderful Shanxi Soup

A wonderful Shanxi Soup

Weird but still wonderfulNoodles

Weird but still wonderfulNoodles

Donkey Meat rolled in noodles - what I had read about

Donkey Meat rolled in noodles - what I had read about

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

July 21, 2009

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

The Old City Gate

The Old City Gate

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Faxing Temple Entrance

The Faxing Temple Entrance

Faxing Temple

Faxing Temple

The really old Dagoba

The really old Dagoba

The Faxing Temple Courtyard

The Faxing Temple Courtyard

Layered Fence around the compound

Layered Fence around the compound

Refurbished Buddha

Refurbished Buddha

one of the many Song Buddhas

one of the many Song Buddhas

The rare Tang Dynasty Lighthouse

The rare Tang Dynasty Lighthouse

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

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

Chong QingTemple View 1

Chong QingTemple View 1

Chong QingTemple View 2

Chong QingTemple View 2

Another Gate in the local town near the temple

Another Gate in the local town near the temple

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

The Changzhi City Gate

The Changzhi City Gate

More City Gate

More City Gate

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

My Canon A640 Camera is Fixed

My Canon A640 Camera is Fixed

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

Shanxi Lunch Special

Shanxi Lunch Special

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

Susie's Aunt

Susie's Aunt

Susie and her Family

Susie and her Family

Shanxi Fried Chicken Dinner

Shanxi Fried Chicken Dinner

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

City Gate at night

City Gate at night

Sunee at the Gate

Sunee at the Gate

More Gate Night shots

More Gate Night shots

A Modern Stone Mural

A Modern Stone Mural

The local mosque at Night

The local mosque at Night

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

Posted by inchinahil 06:28 Archived in China Tagged people food architecture temple shanxi ancient buddhist_temple Comments (0)

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