GuanYin Tang in JianJie, Shanxi

GuanYin Tang of JianJie

There is a little temple rarely known in rural JianJie, Shanxi Province of China.  This little temple is only 350 square meters but contains a huge amount of statuettes, carvings of the Ming Dynasty.  Presently, the temple is under the protection of Shanxi Province Arts and Culture Heritage.  Therefore, cameras were prohibited inside.  The temple is locked up majority of the time.  If you knock, the doorman would open for you to visit.

The entrance to the temple grounds which is approximately 7500 sq. meters

The main temple, GuanYin Tang was build from 1581 to 1583 during the Ming Dynasty.

The name plaque is a work of Gao Qin, Assistant minster of Ministry of War in Ming Dynasty
The right cypress

The two, thousand year-old cypress guarding the GuanYin Temple.  Inside the temple contains carving and statuettes hanging from the ceilings.  The three main Statues facing the door is Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, Manjshri Bodhisattva and Samanabhadra Bodhisattva.  Covering the walls from top to bottom are carvings including 18 Arhats, 24 levels of heavens, 12 Prayekabuddha.  One can also find statuette of immortals of Taoism and 72 virtuous individuals.  Above the entrance, one can see three statues of Laozi, Shakyamuni Buddha, and Confucius.

Confucious, Shakyamuni Buddha, and Laozi

There are a total of 500 statuette ranging from 2 meters to 2 millimeters plus intricate carvings are truly a treasure trove.

This village temple, although small but still made room for different religions, shown that even during Ming Dynasty, people respect different religious beliefs and teachings.

 

Huang Cheng Xiang Fu of Shangxi

The House of Huangcheng Chancellor

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This arch stands forefront as we enter the gate. It is decorated with carvings of phoenixes and other auspicious symbols. It is a list of all the members of the family who were in government with their titles.
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The fortress wall surrounding the city. It was build in the latter years of Ming Dynasty when bandits and robbers were everywhere.

 

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Steps going up to the watch tower
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The fortified city wall and the highest point

This large complex was started in the Ming Dynasty and finished in the Qing Dynasty (1368-1911) and was the resident of  Chen Tingjing , Premier of Qing Dynasty which Emperor Kangxi referred as the “perfect man”.  He served as head in different departments of the government except the department of defense.  He served as the teacher of Kangxi for a time and later Kangxi sought his counsel frequently.  Emperor Kangxi stayed in his home for a period of time when he was visiting this area.  In his later days, he was asked to stayed on service in helping to compile and proofread for the Kangxi Dictionary of the Chinese Characters which is still being referred to today.  He died at age 74 before this dictionary was published.  He served 50 some years in office away from home.

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The first issue of Kangxi Dictionary  in 1716 consist of 47,035 Chinese Characters including characters of different dialects. It still serves as the foundation for Chinese dictionaries of today.

The Chen clan were farmers and then move on to coal mining.  They amassed their wealth and emphasized on educating their young.  It proved that through education can achieve a higher goal in life.  From 1501 to 1700 , the family had 66 members  who passed imperial exams.

Below are pictures of the family courtyard of his living quarters which he hardly lived in during his lifetime in office.

 

 

 

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Qinglian Temple of Jincheng City

Jincheng City, in Shanxi, is the cradle of Chinese civilization and home of one-third of the ancient architectures built before 1234 AD in China.  Shanxi, China has an abundance of coal but Jincheng is most notable for a special blue coal with gives off a fragrance when burned.  No wonder the British Royals prefer them in their fireplace.

Qinglin Temple or the Blue Lotus Temple, about 17 kilometer southwest of Jincheng City, is one of the oldest temples in Maitreya’s Pureland in China.  Buddhist Monk   Huiyuan (慧遠)  built the temple in Northern Qi Dynasty (550-559 AD) named Xiashi but later changed to Qinglian in Tang Dynasty (867AD).  Huiyuan established this temple known as the literarery center of Buddhism just like the Shaolin Temple, known as the martial arts center.

20170901_162932 In its heydays, it stored more than 7,000 scrolls of Buddhist scriptures. Besides served as the library of Buddhism, it was the translation center of the different doctrine of Buddhism.

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Over the years from which it was first built in 500 AD, many restorations, constructions, and expansions had been made.  To date,  it mainly has Song style architecture, murals of Ming and Qing Dynasty, and six painted sculptures of Tang Dynasty.   This temple is now protected as cultural relics by the Chinese government.  Therefore, all picture taking is forbidden indoors.  However, the scenes surrounding the temple is quite serene.

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View below the temple
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Cypress off-spring embrace the maternal cypress which has died but still standing with the support of the off-spring Cypress.
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Dan bridge over the Dan River below the temple

 

 

 

Han Yang Ling(漢陽陵)

Han Yang Ling(漢陽陵)

An underground Mausoleum of Western Han Dynasty, the tomb of the fourth  Han Emperor Jing and Empress Wang located in Xianyang City of Shaanxi Province, China.  The tomb was built around 153AD.  Each pit was arranged according to the different departments in the palace so that life would be able to continue after death as usual.  There is a pit of the kitchen with kitchen utensils and terra-cotta figurines of cooks and workers.   All the figurines found were without arms or clothes because the arms were made of wood so they along with the clothes had decayed.  There were approximately 50,000 terra cotta figurines found so far along with different artifacts.   The burial ground covers an area of 20 square kilometers but only a portion has been excavated and open to the public.  The rest will still be preserved underground til a later date.  There are figurines of sheep, goats, cows, pigs, chickens, and dogs kept in the pit for food storage.  Another contained actual grains and vegetables had all turned to black powder like coal.    Picture taking was not allowed so these are only pictures found on the internet to give my reader a visual impression.  Below is the pit of the concubine figurines

Below are samples of the different artifacts found

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Taroka Gorge and Hualien City of Eastern Taiwan

Hualien City is on the eastern coast of Taiwan along the Pacific Ocean and is the transition point to the eastern part of Taiwan.  The city has the most population of Taiwan aborigines, consisting of many tribes.  In the night market of Hualien City is a strip of all aborigines vendor selling their styles of cuisines and the most noted is their barbecues.

Hualien Night Market
Hualien Night Market
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Entrance to the Aborigines strip
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In the center of Hualien’s  shopping center is a pedestrian only area that was originally the old railroad track.  An Excellent place for people to relax during their shopping spree.

At one of the old railroad stop is an old police station and a jailhouse.

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Next to it is an old World War II bomb shelter concealed by an old tree and a pond of fishes for water and fresh food.

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In the outskirt of Hualien City is the most noted for its Taroka Gorge National Park, the world’s deepest marble canyon. Taroka means magnificent and splendid in Truku, the aborigines tribe that lived here.  They are known by their facial and body tattoos and weaving of clothing and utensils.  These days only a few of them still live in this area.  As always, the National Park is to protect the scenic sight, historic relics, and wild life of the area.  The park not only conserve natural resources, provide environmental education, and promote scientific research.  Aside from activities of hiking, biking, camping, the most popular marathon was held here annually.  Its popularity is renown world wide due to its beautiful trail.

Cheimei Museum, Taijiang, Tainan, Taiwan

Chimei Museum
Chimei Museum
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One of the interesting places to visit in Tainan is Chimei Museum.  It is a private museum established in 1992 by Chimei Corporation.  The museum is the first museum build in western style and exhibits mainly western arts, sculptures, and other artifacts.  This is a good way to introduce western arts and cultures to the locals without having to go abroad.  Besides artworks and sculptures, there is a collection of musical instruments,  armors, and weapons of different period in time.  It also has a collection of real fossils and specimens of various animals on permanent exhibition which is a good way to bring the animals to the people.  As well as, a good way to show that there are not just other people sharing the earth with us but also various other animals sharing the earth with us.  Picture taking is off limits inside the museum and reservation for entrance tickets must be made ahead of time.

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Near by about 20 minutes drive is the Les Hotel Tainan.  It is compact but well designed, that every space is well utilized and design for comfort.  It has 5-star amenities plus a Jacuzzi bath in every room.  Apparently, it is preferred for business conference and wedding parties. We saw a lot of couples having their wedding pictures taken there.

People's Temple
People’s Temple

People’s Temple (大眾廟) is our next stop.  This temple had been rebuilt many times since the occupation of the Dutch.  But it had always been a holy site since the original aborigines, the Ping-pu tribe (平埔族西拉雅人) and it remained a holy site of all those years after the Chinese immigrated here and through the occupation of Dutch and Japanese til now.  This temple was first built by the Chinese to commemorate the first Taiwanese Admiral of the Chinese Qing Dynasty and had been reconstructed in its original style many times later.

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Next to the People’s Temple is the Sihcao Green Water Tunnel of Taijiang National Recreational National Park.  Bamboo raft ride takes you into to the water tunnel of this wetland ecological system of rare plants, habitat for various fish, oysters, crabs, water fouls, birds, and insects as well as migratory

birds.  Life jackets and bamboo hats were provided for the ride.

these tubes are air tubes for the roots of the mangroves
These are air tubes for the roots of the mangroves
tree branches hang over very low.
tree branches hang over very low.
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The green water tunnel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taijiang National Park is protected natural wetland lagoon ecological resources.  It is an inland sea with ever changing sand beaches.  The Chiku Lagoon ecological tours take you out to the various waterways and to the mouths where it meets the ocean.

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see people Fishing
see people Fishing
crabbing
crabbing
Inland sea ends at the bridge
Inland sea ends at the bridge
oyster farm
oyster farm
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Fishing, crabbing, are controlled by licensing only.  It is to ensure the ecosystem is maintained. A lot of bird watching goes on in the early morning and late afternoon.  But during mid-day.   We were lucky to see this crane.  There are many species of Cranes on this major migratory route.

We came to the 3D village on our return trip.

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And a stopover at the Crystal Slipper Chapel Park.

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Anshun, Guizhou, China

Located in the middle of Guizhou (貴州) and next to Guiyang (貴陽) is the city of Anshun.  It is a prefectural city covers 9,256 sq. kilometers and 30%  of its populations are of the 55 Chinese ethnic minorities.

night view of Anshun
night view of Anshun
Anshun bridge at night
Anshun bridge at night

There is a museum with collections of different artifacts of the ethnic minorities of China.  They demonstrated that the ethnic minorities of China have a rich culture as well and quite skilled in embroideries, silver smith, music and etc.

silver headdress
silver headdress
silver headdress and accessories
silver headdress and accessories
musical instruments
musical instruments
Miao’s dress
Yao’s dress

 

 

 

The famous feather dress
Yao’s drum tower

The drum tower is to summon the Yao’s people that a meeting is required or visitors are coming or danger is approaching.  Yao’s woman works in the fields while their husbands go out to work as silversmiths.  Each year the husband works as a silversmith, the woman would cut a length of their skirt until a certain length has been reached and then the husband stay home and take care of the family.

Near Anshun, about 40 minutes away,  we come to the largest village of Miao ethnic minority.  There is about 1250 household settled here.  The name is One Thousand Household Miao Village of XiJiang(西江).  It is under construction to retain its original structure.  To enter, we need to buy an admission ticket.  Inside one can find the village winding paths and many stores that offer food, silver trinkets, crafts, and hostels.  It has changed to a tourist attraction and the Miaos here has entered into the business of tourism.

an oveerview of the Miao Vaillage
an overview of the Miao Village

 

another overview of the village where rental costumes are provided for picture taking
another overview of the village where rental costumes are provided for picture taking
village street with stores on both sides
the village street with stores on both sides
typical Miao's houses build along the hill sided to preserve the more level ground for agriculture.
typical Miao’s houses build along the hill sided to preserve the more leveled ground for agriculture.
A bridge in the village

Due to lack of flat ground for planting crops, The Miaos learn to step cultivate the side of the mountainside for planting.  It is also good for irrigating the crops.

step cropping on mountainside
step cropping on mountainside

 

 

 

 

 

 

A welcoming performance showed off their traditional dance and gorgeous costumes.  Started with greetings by offerings of wine and tea.  Also included a world class performance of music by blowing on a piece of leaf.

chicken dance
chicken dance
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chickens are very important food source for the Miao.
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About an hours away by bus from Anshun is Huanggoushu Waterfall (黃果樹) the translation is Yellow Fruit Tree.  Yes, that is because there are a lot of trees around the fall that bears yellow fruits that turn the whole mountain yellow.  It is the largest fall in China.  It is about 74 meters tall and 81 meters wide.  It is special that one can view it from the top, bottom, left, right and behind, on foot.  The water falls from Baishui (白水河) River. So one can walk along the trail by the river to see where the fall begins.  There is a Pavilion beside the Rhinoceros pool where one can see from the bottom of the fall.  Behind the fall is a natural cave named Water Curtain Cave, that have openings where one can experience the waterfall from behind it.  While walking up and down the mountain to the Water Curtain Cave, one can get the view of the waterfall from the sides.

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Up river from Huanggoushu Waterfall is the Doupotang (陡坡塘) Waterfall.  It is about 105 meters wide and 21 meters high.

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The Doupotang Park has many picturesque sights.  Many scenes were used to shot the movie Journey to the West (西遊記).  These scenes may jog some memories.

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The monk and his 3 disciples met with temptations. Above is piggie surrounded by spider maidens.
The monk and his 3 disciples met with temptations on their journey to the west to collect scriptures. Above is piggie surrounded by spider maidens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

chicken standing upside down
Greeting Lion at the entrance of the Cave

Our next stop is the Dragons Cave of Gods.  It is located within the Huangguoshu Park.  It belongs to the Buiyi ethnic minority of China.  BuiYi people worship Dragons.  This cave used to be their gathering place.  It is about 38 sq. meters and length are 4640 meters although only 1600 meters are open to

can you find the large and small dragons?
twisting dragon on a pole

the public.  The average height is about 21 meters.  It is connected to the underground water source of Haugguoshu Waterfall.  If you look closely and with your imagination you will find lots of dragons hidden, lurking in the background.

The gods looking down

Before I leave this page.  I must mention that Guizhou is also well known for its wine.  It is said that Guizhou has the natural climate for good wine and most noted is Maotai.  Maotai is scarce and expensive but try other wine of Guizhou, one will find it to be of good quality also.