a wandering-about day in fenghuang

Thursday, January 22:  Whenever I’m traveling, I so love the days that I don’t have to actually “travel.”  I savor those days when I wake up in a hotel, and at the end of a long day of exploring, I fall back to sleep in the same hotel.  Today is that kind of day, a non-transit day.  A day of settling in.  I’m in a town — today it’s Fenghuang — and I settle in for a bit.  I call that place my “home” and I get to know it on a more intimate level.

Not that I don’t move, mind you.  I’m always on the move.  I let myself linger for a bit in bed, but then I want to get out to explore.  Venturing about in a new place is the most thrilling part of travel.  

I get familiar with my neighborhood, and whatever gave me pleasure upon first discovery, I seek again.  In this case, it’s our neighborhood breakfast place.  It worked the first morning, so why not do it again?  We greet the Chinese cook as if we’re old friends, and eat our pork dumplings and boiled eggs, dipping them in soy sauce and green chilies.

me in our favorite breakfast place in Fenghuang

me in our favorite breakfast place in Fenghuang

Me with our breakfast cook

Me with our breakfast cook

Then we head out to explore again. I love the stilted buildings along the Tuo Jiang River and the tiled rooftops with their curlicue Phoenix corners.

Bridge of the Tuo Jiang River

Bridge of the Tuo Jiang River

We find a great view from the East Gate Tower, built in 1715, the year of Kang Xi in Qing Dynasty.

Rooftops of Fenghuang

Rooftops of Fenghuang

More rooftops

More rooftops

Rooftops of Fenghuang

Rooftops of Fenghuang

More rooftops

More rooftops

The Yang’s Ancestral Temple was originally built in 1836.  This temple has a wood-made courtyard with two floors, consisting of the gate, opera stage, corridors, main hall and subsidiary rooms. It showcases the local tradition and carving art of architecture.

According to Top China Travel: Yang Ancestral Memorial: the Yang family was the second largest family in Fenghuang Ancient Town. It is said that people with the family name “Yang” are descendents of the famous patriotic Yang family in the Song Dynasty. Yang Ancestral Memorial is the best preserved temple in Ancient Phoenix City.

 

The reason I have such a long holiday from work is that it’s the Spring Festival.  The actual Chinese New Year begins on February 18, but schools are out for over a month to celebrate the holiday. According to China Travel Guide: Chinese New Year (Spring Festival): Every family does a thorough house cleaning and purchases enough food, including fish, meat, roasted nuts and seeds, all kinds of candies and fruits, etc, for the festival period. Also, new clothes must be bought, especially for children. Red scrolls with complementary poetic couplets, one line on each side of the gate, are pasted at every gate. The Chinese character ‘Fu’ is pasted on the center of the door and paper-cut pictures adorn windows.
.

We pass the same fierce-looking character we saw yesterday.  I wouldn’t want to tangle with him.

Angry fellow

Fierce fellow

The geese have gotten off their perches in front of the restaurant and are stretching their legs.

Ducks on the loose

Geese on the loose

I love the cobbled streets and colorful signs.

Cobbled streets of the Ancient Town

Cobbled streets of the Ancient Town

And this character is a just a little bizarre.

smokin'

smokin’

We find lots of traditional red buildings, but I don’t know what they are.

red walls

red walls

temple

temple

more red walls

more red walls

There’s an ancient wall around the town, and a raised platform along its periphery.  We take a stroll along the edge.

Me stopping along the wall around the city

Me stopping along the wall around the city

We find a magical street with floating parasols.

Alley of parasols

Alley of parasols

Parasols

Parasols

And yet another fancy bridge across the river.

Bridge over the River

Bridge over the River

We walk to the west side of town where we find this fancy pedestrian bridge.

Bridge

Bridge

Walking across the bridge, we pass through a canopy of wonderful woodwork.

Woodwork inside the bridge

Woodwork inside the bridge

We head up a hill to a park where we see some elegant pavilion rooftops.

pretty pavilions

pretty pavilions

And stumble upon several groups of middle-aged women doing dance and exercise routines.

Dance time in the park

Dance time in the park

Heading back into town from the hilltop park, we see a view of the town from the opposite direction.

Looking over the River

Looking over the River

We drop in at the home of Xiong Xiling, a famous philanthropist who was the first premier of the Republic of China (1921-49) following the fall of the Manchu.

Curvaceous

Curvaceous

The home of Mr. Xiong Xiling

The home of Mr. Xiong Xiling

The home of Mr. Xiong Xiling

The home of Mr. Xiong Xiling

And we continue walking through the Ancient Town until we come to a large busy square with a big Phoenix as the centerpiece.

More red walls

More red walls

In the park with the Phoenix

In the park with the Phoenix

The Phoenix

The Phoenix

We have some lunch, which is not very good today: some bok choy and some kind of tofu that has a very strange texture.

Bok choy and strange textured tofu

Bok choy and strange textured tofu – photo by Mike

After lunch we walk back along the river toward our hotel, where we take a bit of a rest.

Reflections

Reflections

the waterfront

the waterfront

waterfront reflections

waterfront reflections

reflections in the Tuo Jiang River

reflections in the Tuo Jiang River

Two Chinese girls we meet along the river front - photo by Mike

Two Chinese girls we meet along the river front – photo by Mike

Everywhere you go in China, there are places that offer costumes to try on for photographs.   Here is one young woman posing in an ethnic costume along the river.

Girl in costume

Girl in costume

Mike says that when he used to live in Thailand, his parents told him it would bring him good luck if he could figure out how to get the balls out of the mouths of lions.   He and his sister Barbara used to try to do it, but of course never could.  He figures it was his parents’ way of keeping them occupied.  Here I have him pose trying to remove the ball.

Mike tries to remove the ball from the mouth of the lion

Mike tries to remove the ball from the mouth of the lion

Inside view

Inside view

After a bit of a rest we go exploring in a different part of the town.  We have no idea which direction to go!

Which direction?

Which direction?

Again, we find a restaurant sign refusing entry to Japanese and dogs!  In English, no less.

Another sign with anti-Japanese (and anti-dog) sentiments - this time in English

Another sign with anti-Japanese (and anti-dog) sentiments – this time in English – photo by Mike

I have tried to take photos of the ethnic Miao women several times with little success.  I got one decent portrait yesterday, but most of the time they refuse to let me photograph them, or they cover their faces when they see me about to take a picture.  This woman asks for some money when I ask her if I can take a photo.  I take out my wallet and give her something, but she wants more.  Then she takes the money and runs, refusing to pose for a photo.  I am really annoyed by this.

This lady took the money and ran

This lady took the money and ran

We pass through one of the gates to the old town.

Gate to the Ancient Town

Gate to the Ancient Town

In an area near the bridge, vendors offer costumes for people to try on for 10 yuan.  They don’t take the pictures; you pay them 10 yuan, you get the costume, and you can take your own pictures.  I tried on a girly costume when I was in the rice terraces at Ping’an, but I think this time it will be fun to try on a military costume.  This cracks me up!!  I thought it would be some Communist-looking costume, but instead it looks like some Russian military outfit!

Me in an army uniform.  Which army, I don't know!

Me in an army uniform. Which army, I don’t know!

Here are some Chinese folks posing with various costumes.

Chinese folks posing in costumes

Chinese folks posing in costumes

As the sun goes down, we go in search of a place to eat dinner, passing by this lantern-adorned building.

red lanterns

red lanterns

Here’s a KTV (Chinese karaoke) place near the bridge and the river.

KTV and the bridge over the Tuo Jiang

KTV and the bridge over the Tuo Jiang

Finally we stop for dinner at the Soul Cafe.  I’ve been very lackadaisical about keeping track of my meals on this trip, so I can’t even say what it was we ate.  I think it may have been pizza again. 🙂

Mike at Soul Cafe

Mike at Soul Cafe

Soul Cafe

Soul Cafe

 

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Categories: Asia, China, East Gate Tower, Fenghuang, Hunan, Mr. Xiong Xiling's house, Travel, Tuo Jiang River, Yang's Ancestral Temple | Tags: , , , , , | 27 Comments

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27 thoughts on “a wandering-about day in fenghuang

  1. Wow, another set of fantastic pictures and letting us share the trip with you & Mike. Your breakfast cook is really short! And how frustrating that the other one took your money but wouldn’t let you take a picture.

    Nancy

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    • Thanks so much, again, Nancy. Fenghuang is a very colorful town, as are most of the preserved touristy towns. Actually even the big sprawling cities in China are quite colorful. That breakfast cook was really short, wasn’t she? And yes, I get irritated by any people that ask for money for pictures; either agree or don’t agree to do it, but don’t charge money! This one in particular who took the money and ran was really irksome. At least I caught her on the run!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So wonderful for photography!

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  3. More pictures that I love! The place is so picturesque that it almost doesn’t look real. 🙂 The costumes for hire are hilarious. 🙂

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    • Thanks so much, Elaine, once again. 🙂 It is a preserved ancient town, so has become quite touristy; maybe that contributes to its “unreal” look. I love those costumes for hire and really had fun with that military uniform. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a fascinating day with lots of whimsical little details along the way!

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  5. You look so happy, Cathy, especially that one on the wall. It must have been wonderful to have Mike along. The ladies are right- picture postcard perfect, and your photos of bridges and reflections are superb. I love that rooftops one too, looking up into clouds. Happy days! It’s certainly a very different culture to our own. I love the tradition of poetry and posters on the doors. So colourful! It’s like a strange mix of our Christmas and Easter rolled into one.
    Did you feel like a stranger, Cathy? They mostly seem welcoming, and they’re after your money, after all. I love that shot of the costumed lady posed down by the river, too. I love so much about it, Cathy! 🙂

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    • Thanks so much, Jo. Yes, I was really happy and it was wonderful to have Mike along to join in my journey. I’m glad you like my rooftops and the Chinese ladies. It is SUCH a different culture to ours, as are all Asian cultures. I love the tradition of the scrolls with the poetry at Spring Festival too, Jo. It seems the Chinese put them up at Spring Festival and leave them up for the entire year, because they don’t want their good luck to go away. You’re right, it is like Christmas and Easter rolled up into one. It’s the biggest holiday in China.

      I do feel like a stranger here, Jo, and will never feel otherwise, I’m afraid. Since I can’t speak the language, it prohibits me forming real friendships with any Chinese people. I did make some wonderful Korean friends in Korea, but they spoke excellent English. That’s rare here. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful photos, Cathy. The ‘take the money and run’ lady made me laugh, but I can well understand that you were annoyed by her duplicity.

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    • Thanks so much, Sylvia. It was a fun town to explore. And yes, I was annoyed by that woman and am generally annoyed by people who ask for money for photos. It negates the whole “authentic experience.” I’d rather just have them agree to pose, or not. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Poor pig! That was an upsetting photo!

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    • Sorry, Mona Lisa. But it is China, and I’m trying to show it as it really is.

      Like

      • I know, which is wonderful for your fans but is also why I can never go back there! The animals in cages in front of restaurants may make for wonderful photos, but I can never enjoy things like that without becoming hysterical. But I am loving the blog and hope to read more about Mike’s observations, since as you wrote it is not the kind of trip he would seek out for himself.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a great photo essay of a life and culture so different to ours Cathy. I had to laugh at you in the army uniform. Such beautiful buildings and so much orange you could link it to the “orange” WP theme for this week. It must be marvellous for you to share your experiences with Mike. Is he having culture shock moments at all?

    Like

    • Thanks so much, Pauline. Me in that army uniform was quite a hoot. I couldn’t stop laughing at that for some time! I should link to the orange theme, but I don’t know that it sticks to the theme perfectly so I don’t think I’ll bother. I have so much to do now to get prepared for my classes, so my blog posts will have to slow down for a while. I have so much to write about and so many pictures! Mike definitely had culture shock when he was here; he left on February 2, at which time my son came. I am posting all in arrears because I had no time to post anything while he was here, or while my son Alex was here. Nor did I have time to blog when I was in Myanmar. So you can see I have a lot to post about from my last 6 weeks. 🙂

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      • Is your son still with you and has he been to China before? Blogging in arrears is the only way to go then you have more time, without pressure to sort photos and fill in the details, and also it is like reliving the trip again.

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      • No, Pauline, Alex went home on February 15, at which time I went to Myanmar on my own. I was there 2 weeks but am now back in Nanning and starting classes today😕 I much prefer blogging in arrears as I just like enjoying the journey while I’m on it. Also you’re right, it’s great to relive the adventure.

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      • Hope work is going well for you Cathy. Blogging is a much better way to fill time than watching TV

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      • I start my first classes of spring semester in about an hour, Pauline. I hope the semester will go well, and then I’ll be going back to Virginia in mid July. I will spend most of my free time blogging, which I agree is better than watching TV, although I do spend a lot of time watching TV series online as well. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Your bizarre smokin guy is spooky, but I think typical of what you see in China. What struck me in Beijing was the use of color and I see that in your photos too. You sound more relaxed than you sometimes have in your travels – might that come from your travel companion? But, Cathy, really – pizza?! That’s like us having Mexican in Vietnam!

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    • Yes, Carol, nothing surprises me in China, including that smokin’ pig. I don’t know that I was more relaxed having Mike along; as a matter of fact I was pretty stressed as I planned everything and we had a very tight schedule and if anything at all had gone wrong it would have had a domino effect and messed up our logistics. It was lovely to have Mike as a companion of course, but being totally responsible for planning every bit of our holiday when he only had two weeks, and then having to deal with our rotten weather, really wasn’t all that relaxing. Actually, when Alex came, I felt even more stressed because he can be a little moody sometimes and I wanted him to enjoy his time; he didn’t have much patience for Chinese crowds. Actually, to be honest, my most relaxing time was when I was traveling solo in Myanmar. 🙂

      As far as the food, I also went to Beijing (with a tour group) in 2010, where I loved the Chinese food because it was prepared for Western tastes, much like you find at Chinese restaurants in the USA: lean meat without fat, gristle or bones. That Beijing experience was far from the truth as far as what you actually get in Chinese restaurants. I have to eat here all the time, since I live here, and there is actually very little I will eat because of the meat and the disgusting parts they put into the dishes. It makes me gag. I’ll take a pizza in China anytime!! 🙂

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      • It never occurred to me the food would be different in Beijing, but it makes sense. I can see how all that planning and worrying about timing would be stressful – maybe it’s that you sound more relaxed one because it’s over and all that’s left is to remember it.

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      • Overall, it was a wonderful trip, Carol, even though logistics were sometimes stressful. I loved every minute of it, with Mike, with Alex and by myself. Especially the good weather days!! I really wish I was still in Myanmar. 🙂

        Like

  10. http://go-abroad.geovisions.org/teach-english-abroad-in-myanmar!

    You are so lucky to be so free to explore all your options of teaching wherever you want to! If I did not have so many cats and my pension, I would go to Spain, where the money is poor but not the quality of life!

    Like

    • I don’t know where I’ll look to go next. I’m thinking I’d like to volunteer somewhere, not teaching English, but doing something else, in South America. Or go to Japan under Westgate for one semester (spring 2016??) No matter what, I want to be home for fall and all the holidays at the end of this year. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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