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

 

 

 

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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Xingyi(興義), China

Xingyi, a city southwest of Guizhou, China.  This a modern city of all amenities and exceptionally clean and orderly.  People here are very protective of their environment and happy with their surroundings.  The pictures below is the night life of the city plaza.

city center, the building of our hotel
city center, the building of our hotel
In the plaza are the young, old, and families watching a lzaer light show.
In the plaza where the young, old, and families watching a Lazer light show.

 

Southwest of Guizhou has impressive Natural Wonders.  One of them is the Malinghe Gorge and Ravine.  Along the Gorge were mighty water falls, one more magnificent than the next.

 

With these same landscapes in mind.  We go to our next Scenic Sight, the Wanfeng Lake (萬峰湖)among the peaks.  The lake was the result of a dam that holds back the water into the gorge.  The dam provides much-needed energy for the Southwest of China.  The lake has a surface area of 816  Sq. Kilometer and can stored water of approximately 102 billion cubic meters. The lake is surrounded by peaks and some protruded from the lake surface and formed islands.

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going into the narrow part of the lake
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can you see the cave entrance?

One can take a ferry to go on the lake and have a closer view.  Some ferries offer delicious fresh fish lunch made from the fishes caught from the lake. If you like fish, then you should not miss this lunch.  As it makes its round on the lake we can see a lot of caves on the side of some peaks.

 

The next scenic sight is Wangfenglin (萬峰林), A peak cluster wonder.

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This is a top view of the village of Buyi ethnic minority group of China.  One can see their farms and fields.  Their fields are of different shape and level because each field is centered on the opening of the underground water that erupts from the ground so they may irrigate the field efficiently.

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Among the peaks are the exceptional Twin Breast Peak and the Goddess of Earth.  These are Wonder of Nature and Buyi people worship the Goddess of Earth nurturing them with good climate and good harvest.

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Twin Breast Peak

imag0470Can you see the Goddess of Earth on her back?

A Nature Reserve for Red Crowned Crane

Twenty-six kilometer away from Qiqihaer is Zhalong Nature Reserve, an approximately 810 square miles of wetland in Heilongjiang, China.  This marshland is a major breeding ground for more than 300 species of birds including the Marsh Grassbird as well as a major migratory route for  birds such as the storks, swans, herons, and grebes in the Far East

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cranes collage

Zhalong  Nature Reserve is protected by the Chinese government.  It breeds red crowned crane which is endangered.  However the bred cranes will not migrate any more.  The easy life kept them in one place.  They are well fed and become bigger than the wild crane which still migrate to burn up the stored fat.  Everyday the crane keeper let them out to fly before feeding them, so they would get their exercise.  The wild crane do not like the fed food, so they would stay wild.  This marshland is a very important breeding place for not just the various types of cranes, but also for water fowls, different species of fish, and other marsh dependent animals.  This is a terrific place for bird watching, but be sure to put on a lot of mosquito repellent.

 

Tibetan Buddhist Ceremony at Taipei Liberty Square, Taiwan

Liberty Square also name Freedom Square is visited by locals as well as tourists.  For it is situated in a park with the Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall on the far side facing the Liberty Square Gate and the National Concert Hall and the National Theater on either side. This is a popular site for big gatherings.  When the square is not booked for any out door events, one can see gatherings of students for marching band practice or athletes and dancers working on their routines.

One of the outdoor activity which is rarely found was the Blessing Ceremony for Taiwan by the True Buddha School.  It is a localized practice of Tibetan Buddhism founded by a Living Buddha Sheng-yen Lu.  Many people gathered.  It was said he has disciples all over the world.

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The ceremony started with two dancing dragons leading the Living Buddha into the event.  Then started the Dragon dance to welcome the Living Buddha and add auspiciousness to this ceremony

 

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There were many people chanting and walking around the Pagoda of Buddhas which would be there for 3 days.  It is said that by encircling the Buddha Pagoda and seeing it will ensure one does not go to hell after death.

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Taiwan Lantern Festival of 2016

Every year Taiwan has a Lantern Festival to start a fresh and bright year and at the same time mark the end to the celebration of Chinese New Year.  This year’s venue was chosen to be in TaoYuan.  As always, it outshines the years before.  This website takes you to the official opening of the Lantern Festival.  http://taiwan.net.tw/2016taiwanlantern/Article.aspx?sNo=01000010

According to the Chinese Calendar, this year is the year of the Monkey.  Therefore, the Monkey will be the main theme.  This year, of course, will be spirited, energetic, and vibrant like the character of the monkey.

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Taiwan Lantern Festival 2016
Monkey King with Longivity Peach
Monkey King with Longevity Peach
Garden of the Longevity Peach
Garden of the Longevity Peach
Greetings from Happy Buddha
Greetings from Happy Buddha
Magical Garden
Magical Garden
The stablelize pole of the Dragon King Palace
The stabilizer pole of the Dragon King Palace
The Monkey's vitality and energy will the spirit to this year
The Monkey’s vitality and energy spirited this year.
Galloping forward to success
Galloping forward to success

There are plenty more to see and needless to say, nothing beats the personal experience in this magical world in the night.