Qing Xiu Shan

RESOLVED 2015!!!

Thursday, January 1:  Happy New Year!! It’s that time of year again, time to give some thought to the year ahead.  I’m always enthusiastic about turning the calendar to an untarnished new year, and getting a fresh start on what I hope will be the life of my dreams. However, I know it’s a challenge to keep myself disciplined. Accomplishing my New Year’s Resolutions in past years has always been a mixed bag. I achieve some of what I set out to do, and other things I don’t even touch.

“If you have the capacity to be more than one thing, do everything that’s inside of you.” ~ Bishop T. D. Jakes

This is the problem. I want to do everything that’s inside of me. And because of that, I actually never get anything done!

the big dreamer :-)

the big dreamer 🙂

I like to think about what I want to accomplish in different areas of my life.  So here are my resolutions for 2015:

  1. Health:
    1. Try to walk 3 miles at least 5 days a week.  I was doing this regularly in Virginia, but ever since I arrived in China, my walking habit has fallen by the wayside.
    2. Eat healthier food, especially vegetables. I have had stomach problems almost constantly in China, and I need to remedy that situation as it really ruins my outlook on life when I don’t feel good.
    3. DRINK WATER!  This is something I never think to do.  I’m afraid my body is in a state of constant dehydration.
  2. Finances:
    1. After my six-week upcoming holiday, when I’m sure I will spend every little bit I’ve earned on travel, I should attempt save as much as possible to take back home with me in July.
  3. Writing:
    1. Send out at least 20 query letters to agents when I return home in July. I finished the third draft of my novel in May of 2014, but I haven’t yet sent out a single query letter.
  4. Photography:
    1. Be bold!  Practice using the manual settings on my camera and experiment with photos.
    2. Get a photo editing program and play around with photos.
    3. Take a photography class when I return to the USA in the fall.
    4. Rejoin Vienna Photographic Society when I return to Virginia.
  5. Travel:
    1. Travel with Mike up to Yangshuo and Guilin and into Hunan Province, specifically FengHuang and Zhangjiajie, in January. DONE!!
    2. Boats on the Yulong River near Dragon Bridge in Yangshuo

      Boats on the Yulong River near Dragon Bridge in Yangshuo

    3. Travel with Alex into Yunnan Province, especially to Lijiang, Shaxi, Dali and the Stone Forest. DONE!  
    4. I’ll fly solo to Myanmar and stay there for about 2-3 weeks during February, visiting Mandalay, Bagan, Inle Lake, Yangon, and anyplace else we can squeeze in. DONE!
    5. Continue exploring more of Guangxi province during the spring semester, specifically Bama, Mingshi Tianyuan, Zuo River Scenic Area near Chongzuo City, Weizhou Island and Beihei, Sanjiang, Daming Mountain, Longhu Mountain, Huangtao Ancient Town, and Chengyang Wind and Rain Bridge.
    6. Go to Hong Kong for a long weekend.
    7. In Nanning, go to the Liangfengjiang National Forest Park, Guangxi Ethnic Relics Center and the Museum of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and the Guangxi Science and Technology Museum.
    8. Return to Ping’An and the Longji Rice Terraces in early summer.

      Nine Dragons & Fiver Tigers rice terraces in Ping'An

      Nine Dragons & Fiver Tigers rice terraces in Ping’An

    9. Visit Bali or Sri Lanka or Malaysia when I leave China, on my way back to Virginia in July.
    10. Go with Mike to Iceland as we intended to do last year but weren’t able to because of his mother’s passing away.
  6. Profession:
    1. I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.  I teach English abroad as a means to an end: to travel.  After countless futile job applications, I no longer have any hope that I will ever break into the field in which I got my Master’s, International Commerce & Policy, mainly because of the age discrimination that runs rampant in America.  Thus, I may attempt to simply return to Northern Virginia Community College in the fall; after that I might attempt to go to Japan to work for one semester in Spring of 2016.  That’s my thought at this moment, anyway.
  7. Language and knowledge goals:
    1. Study Chinese at least 10-15 minutes every day.
    2. Try to learn one new phrase a day.  Make it mine!!
  8. Social:
    1. Try to be more proactive about making friends.  I tend to sit by and wait for people to forge friendships with me, but I need to be bolder and braver about making overtures.
    2. Try to invite someone new to do something once each month.
  9. Spirituality:
    1. Begin a meditation practice, starting with at least 10 minutes a day.
    2. Read books about Buddhism, pilgrimage, spirituality, along with my other reading.  
  10. Reading:
    1. Read 25 books. Here are some books on my reading list for this year:
      1. China Dog by Judy Fong Bates (January 17)
      2. My Last Empress by Da Chen
      3. The Crazed by Ha Jin (March 1)
      4. River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler
      5. Colors of the Mountain by Da Chen
      6. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck
      7. Equal Love by Peter Ho Davies
      8. Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman (January 31)
      9. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
      10. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
      11. The Memory of Running by Ron McLarty
      12. The House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferre
      13. The Time it Snowed in Puerto Rico  by Sarah McCoy
      14. When I was Puerto Rican: A Memoir by Esmeralda Santiago
      15. The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau
      16. Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlan
      17. Fresh Air Fiend by Paul Theroux (finish)
      18. Video Night in Kathmandu by Pico Iyer
      19. American Romantic by Ward Just

NOTE TO SELF: You have the day ahead at your disposal. Don’t think in terms too great. Think about only what you can accomplish in a day. 🙂

At first dreams seem impossible, then improbable, then inevitable.

~ Christopher Reeve

 ***********************

Ultimately, my dream is to combine writing and travel somehow, either by planning and offering writing retreats in far-flung parts of the globe, or by going abroad for several months at a time and writing like my life depended on it. Writing retreats would combine my natural teaching ability, my wanderlust, and my writing dreams. However, I feel the first step is to get published, so I can establish some credentials, and some credibility. One step at time….. I would love to hear some of your resolutions for 2015.  Please share! 🙂

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Categories: Americas, Asia, China, Expat life, Guilin, Holidays, Longji Rice Terraces, Nanning, New Year's Day, New Year's Resolutions, Qing Xiu Shan, Travel, Virginia, Yangshuo | Tags: , , , , , | 54 Comments

twenty-fourteen

In twenty-fourteen, I: Got waylaid in Denver after snow and de-icing delays on a flight from Washington to Burbank, California.  Shared Sunset Rolls and Fire Dragon Rolls, Sapporo and warm saké, with my little sister Stephanie, and then met The Invisible Woman in LA.  On foggy Venice Beach, wandered past muscle men, tattoo parlors, surfboards and funnel cakes, and contemplated the medical marijuana advertised for sale.  Caught glimpses of adorable houses, with secret patios and lazy cats, on a stroll through the Venice Walk-Streets.  Went window shopping on Abbott Kinney Boulevard.  Drove six hours to San Francisco from LA through a parched California landscape to meet my friend Jayne. Laughed at the antics of harbor seals at Fisherman’s Wharf and met Monarch butterflies that looked like clusters of densely packed brown leaves at the Monarch Grove Sanctuary in Monterey. Drove 17-Mile-Drive at Pebble Beach.  Sampled some wine on the Silverado Trail.  Saw the iconic cloud-shrouded Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco from the deck of the Sausalito Ferry. Laughed at the antics of sea lions at Pier 39.  On the way back to LA, vicariously lived the high life at Hearst Castle in San Simeon.  Dropped by Old Mission Santa Barbara, walked through fan palms and California chaparral at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, and ate fish tacos on Stearns Wharf.  Visited the garden at Mission Buenaventura in Ventura.  Met Rosie of wandering rose and listened to the reverberations of classic rock at Bob’s Big Boy‘s classic car show.  Was inspired by a Poets & Writers LIVE! event in Los Angeles, where I embarrassed myself in front of Chinese writer Da Chen (My Last Empress) when he asked me the for the title of my book and a business card (I had neither).  Had cocktails at the Brig and ate dinner out of a food truck on Abbott Kinney.  Took a hike with Rosie around Corral Canyon in Malibu and ate more fish tacos at Malibu Seafood.  Left behind sunny California to head back to icy Virginia (nomad, interrupted).

Click on any of the pictures below for a full-sized slide show.

Saw tundra swans and parchment-like leaves dangling like wind-chimes on American beeches at Mason Neck State Park. Was inspired by National Geographic’s 2013 Travelers of the Year.  Saw seagulls walking on water at ice-encased Annapolis Harbor.  Learned 20 things about Storytelling Photography from National Geographic photographers Ami Vitale and Melissa Farlow.  Chased freight trains and photos along the CSX Main Line at Henryton, Maryland.  Suffered through snowstorm after snowstorm in Northern Virginia, and then searched for spring at Green Spring Gardens.  Heard the thundering roar of Great Falls while strolling with Alex, Bailey and Mike along the Patowmack Canal.  Took a photowalk through the hardscrabble part of Baltimore.  Found the gravesite of the patentee of the Ouija Board at Green Mount Cemetery.  Walked Richmond’s Monument Avenue 10k in the rain with my daughter Sarah.  Drifted with cherry blossoms on the Tidal Basin in D.C.  Said “ahoy, matey!” to pirates at the Privateer Festival in Baltimore.  crisscrossed flowing streams & waterfalls at White Oak Canyon.  Stayed overnight at a sleep clinic to test for sleep apnea. Wandered through flowering trees at the Virginia Arboretum.  Was charmed by wisteria at Dumbarton Oaks.  Finally found spring, after a long and grueling winter, at Meadowlark Gardens.  Celebrated Sarah’s 30th birthday in Richmond by sipping wine with the whole family amidst Chihuly’s Red Reeds at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, topped off by a feast at Bacchus.  Cloistered myself at the Franciscan Monastery. Sampled wine and cheese with the family at Doukenie Winery.  Won prizes in photography competitions through Vienna Photographic Society and had my Hot air balloons over Cappadocia photo featured by National Geographic on Instagram.  Finished the third draft of my novel, Scattering Dreams of Stars, but never got around to sending out query letters.  Applied for 40 jobs stateside and didn’t get anything.  Applied for jobs in China and got an offer from Sino-Canadian International College of Guangxi University in Nanning.  Went on safari with sculptures of metal animals in the “American Metal” exhibit at the Corcoran in its last days.  Was awed by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  Opened my heart to water lilies at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.  Worked on joining hearts with Mike at Eastern Market in D.C. Saw “Words & Letters” made into art at the Athenaeum.  Felt general malaise at a Civil War Encampment at Sully Plantation. (nomad, interrupted).

Searched in vain for a happy 4th of July, as both my mother-in-law and my father were admitted to the hospital; my father’s problem was corrected without complications, but my 88-year-old mother-in-law’s health went into decline and she went into hospice care in early July.  Went with Alex on a road trip to New Hampshire, where we stayed in a cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee, seeking a reprieve from Shirley’s illness and our sadness.  Drove the Kancamagus Highway through New Hampshire’s White Mountains, topped by a hike at the Flume Gorge. Stopped to buy a bird nest ornament in a garden shop in charming Woodstock, Vermont, where I was mistaken for Alex’s girlfriend (ha!). Admired painted “meeses” and mountain lions in Bennington, and scrambled over rocks at Kaaterskill Falls in New York.  Returned home to watch helplessly as my mother-in-law continued to decline; she passed away on July 17.  Went in search of light-crazed sunflowers in memory of Shirley, who loved gardening.  Visited the George Washington Masonic National Memorial as we waited for Shirley’s memorial service, which was on Thursday, July 25.   Took our 12 1/2-year-old border collie, Bailey, to the vet when he got sick the day after Shirley’s memorial service; he died the next day, sadly, at the human age of 88.  Searched for summer, and solace, at Solomons, Maryland, where empty boats conversed in a language of their own, groaning, clanking, lamenting and whining.  Hiked at Calvert Cliffs State Park where a kid told me: “My dad says your name is Stranger.”  Dropped off my passport at the Chinese embassy to get my work visa, and while in D.C., stopped in unannounced at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral for a brief tour in darkness. Came full circle and revisited summer at Meadowlark Gardens, as I did when I first arrived back in Virginia from Oman (nomad, interrupted).

Shirley and Bailey: both left us in July

Shirley and Bailey: both left us in July

Sampled rum & grapefruit juice with Mike at Mango’s upon our arrival in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Was coated like a sugar cookie by a maelstrom of sand at Ocean Park.  Savored every bite of mofongo — mashed plantains — at Raices in Old San Juan.  Had a close encounter with the Baño Nazi on Paseo de la Princessa.  Took a self-guided walking tour through colorful Old San Juan, admiring views of Bahia de San Juan along the periphery of El Morro.  Came face-to-face with an iguana at Castillo de San Cristobal and together we enjoyed views of the Atlantic.  Climbed into a cloud forest on the Mt. Britton Trail at El Yunque rain forest.  Ate fabulous Caribbean Benedicts at El Convento.  Sought shelter from the rain at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico.  Visited the “ghost town” of Aguirre in the south of the island.  Was disappointed at Hacienda Buena Vista to see only the historical buildings and not any actual coffee plants.  Got roared at by painted lions at Ponce and took pictures of the historic firehouse and famous landmark, Parque de Bombas.  Looked in vain for 007 (“Bond, James Bond”) and Jodi Foster at the Arecibo Observatory, the setting for Goldeneye & Contact.  Enjoyed a day at the Ocean Park Beach and gorgeous sunset at El Morro before returning home to Washington. Continued to work with Mike on our reconciliation after our seven-year separation and felt good enough about it to go abroad again.  Spent the next two weeks getting ready to move to China.  Left the U.S. on August 30 (notes from north america).

Arrived in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on September 1 and was installed in a gritty apartment with a view over a lotus pond.  Spent the first couple of weeks in Nanning getting a phone, internet, a medical exam, and the visa.  Took a walk with another new teacher, Caleb, on Qing Xiu Shan in dreadful heat & humidity, where we saw koi in Sky Pond and a 1350-year-old Cycas King in the Cycad Garden.  Climbed to the top of Longing Tower where we saw views of Nanning and the Yongjiang River.  Encountered communication problems when haggling in a Chinese market.  Experienced the fringes of Typhoon Kalmaegi as it brushed past Nanning. Spent a frustrating day trying to figure out how to buy train tickets to Guilin.  Finally acquired a bicycle after much rigmarole and rode to Nanning Zoo, where I watched Chinese visitors feeding junk food to the animals.  Began fall semester on September 22.  Encountered students with funny English names: Maleah, Kitty, Yuki, Albert, Hebe, Lancy, Shally, Amber, Azura, Nyako, Spring, and best of all: Yoyo, Echo, Coco, Smoothies and Evita.  Heard tell of other teachers’ students: Biscuit, Yogurt and Potato.  Was flummoxed when trying to find simple household products such as shampoo, conditioner and floor cleaner at Nan Bai Supermarket.  Learned how to say Xièxiè (thank you), Ní hǎo (hello), and Wǒ yào yīgè daizi (I want one bag).

Overcame numerous communication problems and made it to Yangshuo for the National Holiday.  Took a motorized bamboo raft with hundreds of other Chinese tourists down the Li River to Xingping, the scene of the picture on China’s 20 yuan bill.  Strolled around Yangshuo and Green Lotus Hill, where I was surrounded by magical karst formations.  Met Audrey, the niece of an elementary school classmate of mine, at Demo Tiki Bar and then ate Thai food together, accompanied by lots of wine, at Rock-n-Grill.  Bicycled with Audrey through the Yangshuo countryside, where we took an almost-skinny-dip in the Yulong River.  Ate a late lunch at a Passion Fruit Leisure Farm.  Went on a motorbike tour through kumquat orchards to Xianggang Hill, where we saw karst formations with names like Nine Horse Fresco Hill, Lad Worships Goddess, and Grandpa Watching Apple.  Traipsed through the Seven Star Tea Plantation.  Took my own private bamboo boat ride down the Yulong River.  Returned to Nanning, where I began teaching an English Interest Course on Storytelling Photography.  Got hooked on Mad Men and watched all the seasons.  Walked through artistic trellises at the Guangxi Medicinal Plant Garden.  Encountered crazy communication problems on a trip to see Detian Waterfall on the Sino-Vietnamese border.  Straddled the border of China and Vietnam in a bamboo boat and was sprayed by the Ban Gioc-Detian Waterfall on my 59th birthday.  Received a cake for my birthday from the Student Union; I happily shared it with some of my colleagues, cherry tomato toppings and all.

Went to a student-teacher Halloween party on a sweltering night where everyone was sweating in their costumes.  Visited the Guangxi Museum of Nationalities, where I saw excellent exhibits on Guangxi’s twelve indigenous ethnic groups.  Ventured to Nanning People’s Park where hordes of Chinese people were dancing, singing, and playing traditional instruments. Watched all 8 episodes of True Detective and began to watch Breaking Bad.  Took a trip to Ping’An, where a Zhuang guide led me on a hike to see Nine Dragons and Five Tigers and a Yao long-haired woman.  Posed in traditional costume at Seven Stars with Moon.  Took a 5-hour hike alone to the Longji Rice Terraces, where I got lost numerous times.  Spent an afternoon of disillusionment at Elephant Hill Park in Guilin.  Treated myself to a whole body massage, a foot massage and pedicure in Guilin to try to alleviate my four days of sickness while traveling.

Encountered a styrofoam lady on the way to Wal-Mart.  Watched a Chinese love story with English subtitles, Fleet of Time, that shed some light on the lives of my college students. Watched all 10 episodes of Fargo Survived another challenging Chinese bus ride to Yangmei Ancient Village. Spent Christmas day alone wandering downtown Nanning, sipping a Toffee Nut Latte at Starbucks, watching The Taking of Tiger Mountain at Wanda Cinema, and finally Skyping with my family in Virginia.  Went to a Christmas party arranged by my students, where I attempted to make proper dumplings, played and won a REAL game of Chinese checkers, and sang karaoke.  Went to a free acrobatics show in Nanning.

Happy New Year!  May all your dreams come true in twenty-fifteen. 🙂

Related posts:
twenty-thirteen
weekly photo challenge: my 2012 in pictures

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expedition to qing xiu shan {part 2}

Saturday, September 6:   After leaving the Martyr Monument to Guangxi Student Army in Anti-Japanese War at Qing Xiu Shan Tourist Attraction, we head downhill, where we find Champion Court and Number One Scholar Spring Cultural Park.

Champion Court

Champion Court

Scholars at the park

Scholars at the park

Studious scholars

Studious scholars

Lush vegetation

Lush vegetation

We continue on, looking for Xiangsi Lake, which we’ve seen on several signposts.  We find a Japanese man walking alone and we ask him if he knows where the lake is.  He points in a direction opposite to what the sign says, and makes an X gesture with his hand over the arrow pointing to the lake.  He tells us the sign is a mistake and that we should follow him.  We do, and we end up in the Cycad Garden, lying west of the Phoenix Ridge of Qing Xiu Mountain.

walkway through the Cycad Garden

walkway through the Cycad Garden

The garden is the biggest ex-situ conservation population of cycads, seed plants typically characterized by a stout and woody trunk with a crown of large, hard and stiff, evergreen leaves. They usually have feather-like, or pinnate, leaves. The individual plants are either all male or all female. Cycads vary in size from having trunks only a few centimeters to several meters tall. They typically grow very slowly and live very long, with some specimens known to be as much as 1,000 years old. Because of their superficial resemblance, they are sometimes confused with and mistaken for palms or ferns, but are only distantly related to either (Wikipedia: Cycad).

Cycad Garden

Cycad Garden

Cycad

Cycad

Cycad Garden

Cycad Garden

Here at the Cycad Garden of Qing Xiu Shan are more than 30 cycas pectinata aged over one thousand years and the oldest “Cycas King” is 1350 years old now. Most of the iron trees here bloom and fruit from May to November annually.

The Cycas King, over 1350 years old

The Cycas King, over 1350 years old

Cycads are found across much of the subtropics and tropical parts of the world. Though they are a minor component of the plant kingdom today, during the Jurassic period, they were extremely common. They have changed little since the Jurassic, compared to some major evolutionary changes in other plant divisions.  Maybe that’s why we see some dinosaur statues in the garden.

Dinosaurs in the Cycad Garden

Dinosaurs in the Cycad Garden

Dinosaur in the Cycad Garden

Dinosaur in the Cycad Garden

After enjoying the shade of the Cycad Garden, we end up at a little store by Sky Pond, where we each buy a bottle of water and a vanilla ice cream bar.  We sit at a picnic table under an umbrella and savor every refreshing bite of that ice cream bar.  We’ve been walking for so long in the hot sun, we’re soaked with sweat.  That ice cream is the perfect antidote for our weary bodies.

As soon as we finish our ice cream and leave the shop, we can see the Water-moon Nunnery to our right and Sky Pond to our left.

Water-moon Nunnery

Water-moon Nunnery

Sky Pond is an artificial lake named such because it is the place of highest altitude in Nanning (according to a sign in the  park).

View of Sky Pond with Longxiang Tower on the hillside

View of Sky Pond with Longxiang Tower on the hillside

Little bridge to an island in Sky Pond

Little bridge to an island in Sky Pond

When we walk along the shore of Sky Pond, we see people feeding koi in the pond.  Koi are ornamental varieties of domesticated common carp that are kept for decorative purposes in outdoor koi ponds or water gardens.

Feeding the koi

Feeding the koi

Koi varieties are distinguished by coloration, patterning, and scalation. Some of the major colors are white, black, red, yellow, blue, and cream.  It’s fun to watch them churning about in the water.

Koi in Sky Pond

Koi in Sky Pond

The lake is very pretty and a welcome sight after traipsing up and down the mountain.  What is it about water that just seeing it makes you feel refreshed?

We  walk across a little bridge to an island, where we see a couple of pavilions.  Standing in one of them, we have some lovely views of the lake and find more people feeding the Koi.

pavilion on the island

pavilion on the island

Koi in Sky Pond

Koi in Sky Pond

Jilinge Restaurant

Jilinge Restaurant

more pavilions

more pavilions

Colorful boats for hire

Colorful boats for hire

the bridge to the island from the opposite side

the bridge to the island viewed from the opposite side

view of Sky Pond, boats, pavilion and Jilinge Restaurant

view of Sky Pond, boats, pavilion and Jilinge Restaurant

We wonder about the sign that says Sky Pond is the place of highest altitude in Nanning, because right beside the pond, we can see steps going further uphill to Longxiang Tower, commonly known as Qingshan Tower.

Steps to Longxiang Tower

Steps through the Buyun Archway to Longxiang Tower

Sign on the steps leading to the tower

Sign on the steps leading to the tower

Yuntian Court: we go under this on the way up to the tower

Yuntian Court: we go under this on the way up to the tower

another pavilion beside the tower

another pavilion beside the tower

The tower is named from the proverb:  “Dragon ranks first in strength among all the water animals while elephant tops in all the land animals.”  Longxiang (dragon and elephant) Tower was initially built in the Wanli Period of the Chinese Ming Dynasty.  It is an eight-square double-eaved nine-floored structure with a height of 51.35m. It is the landmark of Qing Xiu Mountain and the perfect end to our expedition.

Longxiang Tower

Longxiang Tower

Climbing to the top of the tower, we can see the Yongjiang River, distant mountains and hills and urban and rural landscapes within ten miles.  I make a stop at every level where I can find panoramic views.

view over Qing Xiu Shan

view over Qing Xiu Shan

Nanning and the Yongjiang River

Nanning and the Yongjiang River

Nanning and the Yongjiang River

Nanning and the Yongjiang River

Urban landscapes

Urban landscapes

We see the pretty Lotus Pond from above. It sits right beside Sky Pond, but we didn’t see this when we were on the ground.  We’ll have to visit this next time we come.

view of Lotus Pond next door to Sky Pond

view of Lotus Pond next door to Sky Pond

Jilinge Restaurant from above

Jilinge Restaurant from above

Nanning & Yongjiang River

Nanning & Yongjiang River

Yongjiang River looking east

Yongjiang River looking east

Looking to the south, we see a sprawling area of new construction.

New construction to the south

New construction to the south

to the south, some kind of performing arts center? Or sports area?

to the south, some kind of performing arts center? Or sports area?

After enjoying the breezes and the views for quite some time at the top of the tower, we descend the tower and the hill to catch the bus to the park entrance.  It’s been a great first outing in Nanning, but we’re hot, tired and exhausted.  This mountain is way too much to see in one day.

a monument near Longxiang Tower

a monument near Longxiang Tower

As we make our way back by taxi to the university, we pass a lot of hustle and bustle on the city streets, but I’ve put my camera away and don’t feel like digging it out again.  We can see poor housing areas juxtaposed against upscale ones.  Here’s one shot I take with some interesting old houses nestled in among the tall newer buildings.  It’s not great because I was a little late in taking out my camera.

old houses and new

old houses and new

This day was great fun, and I’m so happy to have found a fellow adventurous spirit in Caleb. 🙂

Categories: Asia, Champion Court, China, Cycad Garden, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Jilinge Restaurant, Koi, Longxiang Tower, Nanning, Number One Scholar Spring Cultural Park, Qing Xiu Shan, Sky Pond, Water-moon Nunnery, Yongjiang River | Tags: , , , , , , | 10 Comments

an expedition to qing xiu shan {part 1}

Saturday, September 6:  This morning, Caleb and I take a taxi to the south of Nanning to visit the mountain called Qing Xiu Shan.  We share the 40 yuan (~$6.50) cost of the taxi ride.  We arrive at the West Gate Ticket Office, where we find a stepped series of frogs spitting streams of water at each other.  Try as I may, I cannot capture the water streams coming out of their mouths.  Every time I’m a fraction of a second too late or too early.  That doesn’t stop me from trying.

Spitting turtles at the West Gate of Qing Xiu Shan

Spitting turtles at the West Gate of Qing Xiu Shan

As always in Nanning, it is hot and humid, with temperatures about 92 degrees Fahrenheit and 70% humidity.  You can see the humidity in the air.

West Gate Ticket Office, Qing Xiu Shan

West Gate Ticket Office, Qing Xiu Shan

Looking down at the stepped ponds at the entrance

Looking down at the stepped ponds at the entrance

Qing Xiu Shan is spread over 13 square kilometers, of which 6 square kilometers have been built and open to the public. The Scenic Spot has numerous peaks, green trees, amazing carved rocks, steep cliffs, clean springs and rare stones (QingXiu Shan Tourist Attraction).

Around the perimeter of the Bronze Drum Stage, we find statues honoring all the different ethnic groups in Guangxi Province.  All the information below is taken from the plaques on the statues.

The Gelao people are an ancient nationality in southwest China.  The Gelao language is their native tongue and they have a lot of folklore and folk songs, including “Song of Eight Immortals” and “Cowhells Dance.”  Their festivals include Worshipping Tree Festival and Festival of Worshipping Ancestors with Beef Heart.

The Yi people moved to the mountains of Guangxi from Yunnan Province. There are three branches, the White Yi, Black Yi and Red Yi.  They live on mountains and do farming.  They speak the Yi language but have different dialects among them.  They love to sing and dance and their festivals include the Tiaogong Festival  and Torch Festival.

The Shui people speak the Shui language and live on rice agriculture.  They once created the “Shui script” by imitating the Chinese characters and a unique calendar that takes September as the beginning of the lunar calendar and August as the end of the year.  They are good at embroidering and like singing Huadeng opera.  They follow the marriage custom of “no marriage with member of the same clan.”  Their traditional festivals include “Dragon Boat Festival” and Mao Festival.

The Jing people migrated to Baibu Gulf from Do Son, Vietnam after the Ming Dynasty.  Their livelihood is marine fishery and farming.  They are the only minority living along the coast and the only one involved in marine fishery among Chinese minorities.  Their traditional festival includes “Ha (Singing) Festival.”

The Mao Nan people live on rice agriculture and agriculture on hilly land with various avocations as their sidelines.  They love singing folk songs and are skilled at handicrafts of knitting bamboo skin wares, carving rocks and woods, etc.  “Maonan Beef Cattle” they elaborately feed is famous for its fresh texture and is well sold overseas.

The Hui people believe in Islamism for which there are always mosques in their places of residence.  Their clothes, religious service, living and diet, traditional festivals and funerals keep the heritage of Islam.  Most are engaged in industry and commerce.  Sculpture, colored-lantern making and carpet making are their adept handicrafts.  Their traditional festivals include “Iftar Festival,” “Corban Festival,” and “Maulid al-Nabi.”

Below is a collage of the different groups.  Click on any of the photos for a full-sized slide show.

On the perimeter of the Bronze Drum Stage, sometimes referred to as the Copper Drum Platform, we find some pretty lanterns and greenery.  We also find a man painting Chinese characters on the sidewalk with water.

neatly carved hedges

neatly carved hedges

surroundings at the Bronze Drum Stage

surroundings at the Bronze Drum Stage

ficus tree ? near the Bronze Drum Stage

ficus tree ? near the Bronze Drum Stage

Chinese lanterns

Chinese lanterns

a man paints Chinese characters with water on the sidewalk

a man paints Chinese characters with water on the sidewalk

The Copper Drum music platform is a grand sunken open stage and forms, together with the square, a huge open site for performances. The 40th Anniversary Ceremony of Guangxi, the closing ceremony of the Nanning International Folk Song Arts Festival, the opening ceremony of the China Gold Rooster Floral Film Festival and other events have been held here.  The background sculpture of the stage is the “Remote History and Modern Charm,” focusing on the copper drum and supported by images of flowery mountains, wall paintings, figures, animals and plants.

The frog totem pillars at the two sides of the square and the stage represent the Zhuang people’s worship of the frog because they live on agriculture at the high-temperature rainy South China. In their opinion, the frog cannot only catch pests but also has strong reproductive capacity. Thus, their fear of the God was transferred to the frog, hoping the frog would bring the rice harvest and prosperous offspring to them (Qing Xiu Shan: Copper Drum Platform).

At the Bronze Drum, we find ourselves to be minuscule beings as we pose in front of the huge drum.

The Bronze Drum from the backside, where the light is good

The Bronze Drum from the backside, where the light is good

Caleb poses in front of the Bronze Drum

Caleb poses in front of the Bronze Drum

And I try it too. :-)

And I try it too. 🙂

Next, we proceed along the shady Friendship Corridor, a cultural corridor integrating the features of the shelter bridge of the Dong people and South Ridge parks. The 618m length makes it the longest corridor of Guangxi. No nail or rivet is used in the corridor but only mortise and tenon joints, sufficiently showing the architectural skills of the Dong people. The corridor, integrating bridge, corridor, pavilion and tower together, is not only an ornamental, but also an ideal place for rest.

Friendship Corridor

Friendship Corridor

We weave in and out of the long corridor, where we see a lot of cool rocks and garden features.

courtyard garden

courtyard garden

cool rocks

cool rocks

mushroom clipped trees

mushroom clipped trees

more amazing rocks

more amazing rocks

view of Nanning & the Yongjiang River from a pavilion along the Friendship Corridor

view of Nanning from a pavilion along the Friendship Corridor

view from a pavilion

view from a pavilion

Another view from the pavilion

Another view from the pavilion

The Friendship Corridor leads to a plaza and a huge circular walkway around a bright green field.  The first thing we see is this huge dragon ball.

Dragon ball at the entrance to the China-ASEAN Friendship Garden

Dragon ball at the entrance to the China-ASEAN Friendship Garden

In a semi-circle around the dragon ball is the China-ASEAN Friendship Garden, where we can see tributes to the different countries of ASEAN, some of which are in the gallery below.  At the ASEAN Totem Square, the totem stone sculptures symbolize the laws and legal systems of China and the 10 ASEAN countries.  The totems symbolize friendly cooperation amongst the ASEAN countries.

Since Caleb speaks fluent Chinese, he easily chats with people.  Some of the folks want to take pictures with us.

Caleb, friendly Chinese girl, and me

Caleb, friendly Chinese girl, and me

Around the perimeter of the park are lots of cool statues, and the first one is the Monkey King.  We take turns posing with the statue.

The Monkey King

The Monkey King

Up close and personal with the Monkey King

Up close and personal with the Monkey King

Pigman and me

Pigman and me

me with the Monkey King

me with the Monkey King

We find other interesting sights along the way.

The Cougar above is a symbol of Provo City and Brigham Young University.  Nanning and Provo signed a Sister City Agreement on September 27, 2000.  The Cougar symbolizes leadership, loyalty, courage and determination in Native American folklore.

The Philippine Eagle is one of the largest and most powerful eagles in the world and is one of Davao City’s most famous symbols, often referred to as the Bird King.  Endangered and very rare in the wild, the Philippine Eagle is being successfully bred in captivity at the Philippine Eagle Center.  Nanning and Davao signed a Sister City Agreement on September 3, 2007.

Next we come to the Chinese Zodiac Park, where Caleb poses with his Chinese Zodiac character, the snake, and I pose with mine, the sheep.  Sadly I took the picture of Caleb with his camera, so I don’t have it to post.

Chinese Zodiac Park

Chinese Zodiac Park

Me with the sheep

Me with the sheep

We also take turns posing with some humorous monkeys.

Caleb poses with the monkeys

Caleb poses with the monkeys

and so do I. :-)

and so do I. 🙂

After all this walking and sweating, we come face to face with about a million steps leading to The Martyr Monument to Guangxi Student Army in Anti-Japanese War.    We are already hot and exhausted, but we climb on up anyway.

Steps to The Martyr Monument to Guangxi Student Army in Anti-Japanese War

Steps to The Martyr Monument to Guangxi Student Army in Anti-Japanese War

It’s hard to get a front-on picture of the monument since we’re facing directly into the sun, but here’s a view from the side.

The Martyr Monument to Guangxi Student Army in Anti-Japanese War

The Martyr Monument to Guangxi Student Army in Anti-Japanese War

view from theThe Martyr Monument to Guangxi Student Army in Anti-Japanese War

view of Nanning from The Martyr Monument to Guangxi Student Army in Anti-Japanese War

Little do we know at this point how much more walking we have to do.   This mountain is huge!  Part 2 of our walk will follow in another post.   Even what we saw today is not everything there is to see.  We’ll have to go back another day, or two, to see it all. 🙂

Categories: Asia, Bronze Drum Stage, China, China-ASEAN Friendship Garden, Chinese Zodiac Garden, Friendship Corridor, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Nanning, Qing Xiu Shan, The Martyr Monument to Guangxi Student Army in Anti-Japanese War | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

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