Posts Tagged With: Walking

my final hike back to ping’an from nine dragons & five tigers…and back to nanning

Sunday, June 28:  After seeing all I can see of Nine Dragons and Five Tigers, I start to make my way to back to my hostel in Ping’An.   I can see the village ahead of and below me, and the gorgeous rice terraces laid out neatly below me.

the walk back to Ping'An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

the walk back to Ping’An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Every once in a while I pass Chinese tourists along the path, or I see them walking ahead of me, but luckily it isn’t too crowded.

the path back

the path back

view of Ping'An from the terraces

view of Ping’An from the terraces

view of Ping'An from the terraces

view of Ping’An from the terraces

looking down on the rice terraces

looking down on the rice terraces

the walk back to Ping'An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

the walk back to Ping’An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

the walk back to Ping'An

the walk back to Ping’An

the walk back to Ping'An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

the walk back to Ping’An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

the walk back to Ping'An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

the walk back to Ping’An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

I see a few farmers along the way, walking along the terrace edges, doing what they do best.

a farmer on the rice terraces

a farmer on the rice terraces

I pass a vendor, a Zhuang woman selling various textiles, at this isolated spot along the trail.

a vendor along the way

a vendor along the way

looking back from where I came

looking back from where I came

the farmer on the terraces

the farmer on the terraces

the walk back to Ping'An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

the walk back to Ping’An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

After passing by the most dramatic terraces, the path takes me along the edge of a mountain, where ferns and flowers are growing with exuberance.

the walk back to Ping'An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

the walk back to Ping’An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

through the woods

through the woods

ferns along the path

ferns along the path

buds along the path

buds along the path

buds along the path

buds along the path

After emerging from the wooded area, I can see Ping’An below me.

the walk back to Ping'An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

the walk back to Ping’An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

the walk back to Ping'An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

the walk back to Ping’An from Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

looking down on the rice terraces approaching Seven Stars with Moon

looking down on the rice terraces approaching Seven Stars with Moon

looking down on the way to Seven Stars with Moon

looking down on the way to Seven Stars with Moon

cornstalks along the path

cornstalks along the path

I continue walking until I reach a lookout point that is on the other side of the village, looking over Seven Stars with Moon.

vendors along the path

vendors along the path

overlooking Seven Stars with Moon

overlooking Seven Stars with Moon

overlooking Seven Stars with Moon

overlooking Seven Stars with Moon

overlooking Seven Stars with Moon

overlooking Seven Stars with Moon

As it’s almost time for me to catch the bus back to Guilin, I continue through the village and back to my hostel.

back in the village of Ping'An

back in the village of Ping’An

Ping'An

Ping’An

a Chinese building along the way

a Chinese building along the way

Back at the hostel, I gather my bags and make my way 20 minutes down the mountain to the entrance of Ping’An Village.  I have bought a few souvenirs while here, so my backpack is rather heavy now.  I get on one of the two buses that leave daily from Ping’An directly to the Guilin Railway Station; it leaves at 2:00 p.m.  The only other direct bus left at 9:00 a.m., but if I had taken that one, I wouldn’t have had much time at the terraces!

On the bus, I talk during most of the trip to a young man from Stuttgart, Germany who has been studying in Beijing for his thesis on water storage and flooding control and is now taking a month to travel around China.  His favorite destination was a place in southern Sichuan near Tibet.

The bus ride to Guilin seems very short.  I expected it to be 3 hours and it’s only about 2 1/2 hours, meaning I arrive at the Guilin Railway Station before 4:30.  This means of course that, since my train to Nanning doesn’t leave until 8:10 p.m., I have to wait in the train station for over 3 1/2 hours, an excruciatingly boring and uncomfortable way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  It seems like an eternity.  I could have gone out to explore someplace in Guilin if I’d had a place to store my heavy backpack filled to the brim with souvenirs!

The fast train from Guilin to Nanning only has one or two stops, depending on which train you are on.  I always think it’s funny when this announcement comes on as we approach a stop: “Passengers who do not reach their destination cannot get off.”  Of course, there is no one to stop people from getting off if they want to, so of course the announcement should be: “Passengers who have not reached their destination should not get off.”  I laugh every time I hear this announcement on Chinese trains. 🙂  I arrive back in Nanning at 10:40 p.m. and then catch a bus back to the university, arriving home after 11 p.m. after a tiring day of travel.  This is way past my bedtime, but it was well worth the trip to see the rice terraces one last time before leaving China.

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Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Longsheng County, Nine Dragons & Five Tigers, Ping'An Village, Seven Stars with Moon, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

a morning walk from ping’an to nine dragons & five tigers

Sunday, June 28:  This morning, I sleep in until 9:00 after waking up at 4:30 and staring at the ceiling for a long while. I shower in my room but must use the hair dryer in the common room, which seems really weird, blowing my hair dry  in full view of other guests.  I eat a small breakfast of a scrambled egg, two slices of bacon, two pieces of toast, and coffee, and then head out for a walk.

I have to travel back to Nanning today, but my train from Guilin to Nanning isn’t until 8:10 tonight.  I purposely scheduled a late train so I wouldn’t be rushed when coming back from the rice terraces.  I figured when I bought the ticket that I could leave Ping’An around 4:00-5:00, as it takes 2 – 2 1/2 hours to get back to Guilin.   However, nothing is ever that straightforward in China.  I discover that there are only two buses each day directly from Ping’An to Guilin Railway Station, 9 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.  Because this bus goes directly to Guilin, I don’t have to get off at Heping and then stand by the roadside and catch the local bus back to Guilin, and then catch another city bus to the train station.  If I take this 2:00 bus, that means I will arrive in Guilin at around 4:00-4:30 and I will have almost 3 1/2 – 4 hours sitting around in the train station.  This is not an appealing option. 😦

The only other option is to take one of the slightly later buses to Heping; these leave Ping’An at 3:00 or 5:00.  If I take one of those, I must wait by the roadside at Heping for the bus to Guilin’s Qin Tan Bus Station, arriving there around 4:45 or 6:45, respectively.  At that point I have the additional hassle of catching the city bus in Guilin to the train station.  I’m afraid I’d be cutting it too close by taking the 5:00 bus.  Since it’s a choice between either the 3:00 bus with all the bus changes or the 2:00 DIRECT bus, and since there is only a one-hour difference between a hassle-free trip or a trip full of hassles, I decide to leave on the 2:00 direct bus, meaning I must get an early start on my hike to Nine Dragons and Five Tigers, also known as the Dragon’s Spine.

Does it sound complicated enough? It is.

Heading out from the Longji International Youth Hostel, I have a view of some of the terraces (below).  I head out of the village in the opposite direction I walked yesterday, making my way up and up.

View of the terraces from the Longji International Youth Hostel

View of the terraces from the Longji International Youth Hostel

Walking through the village of Ping'an

Walking through the village of Ping’an

laundry

laundry

following the trail out of the village

following the trail out of the village

Finally, I can see the village behind me on the hillside, and on the other side of the valley, I see the fabulous Nine Dragons and Five Tigers.

walking along the terraces

walking along the terraces

looking back at Ping'An

looking back at Ping’An

the village of Ping'An

the village of Ping’An

side view of the terraces

side view of the terraces

looking back to Ping'An

looking back to Ping’An

I’m at a lower spot on Nine Dragons & Five Tigers than I was on my previous hike.  I know I somehow need to make my way up to the higher viewpoint.

walking around the terraces

walking around the terraces

I walk around a point and come to these terraces shaped like a bowl.

a little bowl of terraces

a little bowl of terraces

After this bowl, I come to a path leading into the forest, so I retrace my steps back to another view of Nine Dragons & Five Tigers.

looking down at the dragon's spine

looking down at the dragon’s spine

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Ping'An

Ping’An

I can see people walking on another path above me, so I follow the convolutions and make my way up to it.  At that higher level I get some magnificent views of the Dragon’s Spine.  I really does look like its nickname and is simply amazing.

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

little pretties along the path

little pretties along the path

a higher view of Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

a higher view of Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

the high path

the high path

corn and rice terraces

corn and rice terraces

view of Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

view of Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

The terraces are wonderful from this higher viewpoint, and I realize I didn’t have this view the first time I came here in November (a walk along the longji rice terraces from ping’an to nine dragons & five tigers).

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers with Ping'An in the background

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers with Ping’An in the background

looking back from where I came

looking back from where I came

foliage and terraces

foliage and terraces

What an amazing place these terraces are!  I adore them.  I could come here every year and never tire of them.

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Nine Dragons & Five Tigers

Finally, after walking around at these heights and taking hundreds of pictures, I head back along the trail that the guide led me on in November.  I’ll make my way back to the village and see enjoy more views, taking my time as my bus to Guilin doesn’t leave till 2:00. 🙂

 

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Longsheng County, Nine Dragons & Five Tigers, Ping'An Village, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

sunset on the rice terraces

Saturday, June 27:  After enjoying my dinner and beer at the Green Garden Hotel, I walk back to Seven Stars and Moon to see the rice terraces as the sun goes down.  I’ve seen a lot of photographs of the water-filled terraces reflecting the clouds, and this time I’m able to get a couple of my own.

Seven Stars with Moon as the sun goes down

Seven Stars with Moon as the sun goes down

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

The sky is quite dramatic this evening, and the light is magical.

cloud formations

cloud formations

framed clouds

framed clouds

I walk along the same terraces where I’d walked earlier today and enjoy the views in the fading light.

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

dappling

dappled skies

reflections

reflections

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon with cloud reflections

Seven Stars with Moon with cloud reflections

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Finally, I head back into Ping’An, where I find these pretty table runners, one of which I add to my collection of souvenirs from China.  Mine is not shown here.

goods for sale in Ping'An

goods for sale in Ping’An

view over Ping'An

view over Ping’An

red lanterns in Ping'An

red lanterns in Ping’An

I pass by my earlier resting place at the Green Garden Hotel, with its festive red lanterns.

the Green Garden Hotel

the Green Garden Hotel

Soon after, I encounter this feisty little lady who tries to sell me some of her goods; however, I already bought a table runner from someone else and I’m not in the market for what she’s selling.  She does, however, convince me to come into her humble abode for a foot & leg massage.  After my long walk today, I’m an easy target. She tells me she is 51 years old and her name is Pah-mee.

a feisty vendor and masseuse

a feisty vendor and massage business manager

She doesn’t do the massage herself, but has another Chinese woman do it.  The massage parlor is not quite like most spas, but seems to be just part of the woman’s house.

my foot massage

my foot massage

After the massage, I try to find my way back to the hostel without much success.  Some of the walkways are very dark and drop off steeply into black abysses. I keep turning on my phone flashlight so that I won’t fall off one of the cliffs. As many times as I’ve walked around Ping’An, I can’t figure out where on earth I am.  I seem to be going around in circles.  In the dark, the normal landmarks that guided me in daylight are not readily apparent.

trying to find my way back to the Longji International Youth Hostel

trying to find my way back to the Longji International Youth Hostel

Only after many convolutions do I find myself in a recognizable place.  At long last, around 9:00 p.m., I’m at the hostel, and I settle in with my book, giving my feet a much-needed rest.

 

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Longsheng County, Ping'An Village, Seven Stars with Moon, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

the long hike back from the longji rice terraces to ping’an

Saturday, June 27:  After reaching the entrance of the Longji Rice Terraces, I turn around to return the three hours to Ping’An, taking the lower road and detouring into Longji Ancient Zhuang Village.  The view along the lower road is even more spectacular than the high road, and much less traveled by tourists.  Not that there are a lot of tourists, compared to everywhere else I’ve traveled in China, but it’s more secluded on the lower road.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

The day is humid but still a bit cooler than most places in Guangxi, probably because of the elevation.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

I enjoy the views of the land carved out beneath me in curvaceous patterns.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

looking down at the layers at Longji Rice Terraces

looking down at the layers at Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

up close and personal at the Longji Rice Terraces

up close and personal at the Longji Rice Terraces

water filled rice terraces

water filled rice terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

a neatly carved landscape

a neatly carved landscape

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

daisies at Longji Rice Terraces

daisies at Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

I catch glimpses of farmers working on the terraces today.  These terraces are not only artistic, but are actively worked by the residents.

a Chinese farmer on the terraces

a Chinese farmer on the terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

I take one successful selfie of myself; most of my other photos are a blur.

self portrait at the Longji Rice Terraces

self-portrait at the Longji Rice Terraces

As I continue on the lower road, I can see the Longji Ancient Zhuang Village ahead.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Here is one of the water sources for the terraces.  The terraces are also watered through an irrigation system much like the aflaj in Oman (The Traditional Aflaj Irrigation System).

springs that water the terraces

springs that water the terraces

I love how the terraces are filled with water at this time of year.  If it were a sunnier day, you might be able to see clouds reflected in them, as I’ve seen in others’ photographs.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

heading toward Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

heading toward Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

The last time I ventured into the Longji Village, back in November, I got hopelessly lost, finally paying a little girl a small sum to take me back to the path to Ping’An (a 5-hour hike to the longji rice terraces at longji ancient zhuang village).  This time, I decide to keep heading up, as I know the road is above me and I’ll eventually find my way to it.

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

There isn’t much sign of life in the village.  Maybe everyone is napping, or maybe they’re out working in the terraces.

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces with Longji Ancient Zhuang Village below

Longji Rice Terraces with Longji Ancient Zhuang Village below

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

climbing up the Longji Rice Terraces

climbing up the Longji Rice Terraces

corn on the terraces

corn on the terraces

miscellaneous farming

miscellaneous farming

the steps uphill

the steps uphill

farmed terraces

farmed terraces

the outskirts of Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

the outskirts of Longji Ancient Zhuang Village

outskirts of the village

outskirts of the village

corn

corn

strutting his stuff

strutting his stuff

It’s a long walk uphill to make it back to the road that will lead to the path back to Ping’An, and it takes me well over an hour.

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

I like watching the farmers working on the terraces.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

a farmer working the rice terraces

climbing the mountain to return to Ping'An

climbing the mountain to return to Ping’An

Finally, I leave the houses on the outskirts of the village behind and I’m back on the path through the woods.

the path back to Ping'An

the path back to Ping’An

There isn’t much to photograph in the woods, so I just keep walking, even though I’m worn out by now.  I still haven’t eaten a thing all day because I didn’t want to have any stomach problems.

the hike back through the woods to Ping'An

the hike back through the woods to Ping’An

the long walk back

the long walk back

Before long, I’m back at Seven Stars with Moon on the outskirts of Ping’An.  My legs are so tired!!

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

At long last, I’m back in Ping’An and I decide to look for a place to sit down so I can have a late lunch and a beer.

back to Ping'An

back to Ping’An

a vendor selling colorful earrings

a vendor selling colorful earrings

Ping'An

Ping’An

the Zhuang ladies of Ping'An

the Zhuang ladies of Ping’An

shredded something

shredded something

I head directly to my hostel, where I take a cold shower, which feels good as I’ve been sweating like crazy on my hike.  I relax a while and then head out to the inviting Green Garden Hotel, where I decide to stop for a Tsingtao beer and a Hawaiian pizza.

the village of Ping'An

the village of Ping’An

I sit on the balcony where I have a great view of the village.

taking a rest with a view

taking a rest with a view at the Green Garden

view over Ping'An

view over Ping’An from the Green Garden

The light is amazing as is seeps through the clouds. It spreads like melted butter over the mountains.

view over Seven Stars with Moon

view over Seven Stars with Moon

mountain light

mountain light

ethereal light

ethereal light

view from Green Garden

view from Green Garden

view from Green Garden

view from Green Garden

the Green Garden Cafe

the Green Garden Cafe

view from the Green Garden

view from the Green Garden

The proprietor has been very friendly.  He walks me out the door and tells me to come again.

owner of the Green Garden

owner of the Green Garden

I walk back to Seven Stars and Moon, so I can take pictures as the sun goes down.

 

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Longji Ancient Village, Longji Rice Terraces, Longsheng County, Ping'An Village, Seven Stars with Moon, Travel, Zhuang people | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

the first half of the hike from ping’an village to the longji rice terraces

Saturday, June 27:  This morning, I decide not to eat anything for breakfast because the last time I took the 5-hour hike to the Longji Rice Terraces and Longji Ancient Zhuang Village, I had a number of stomach problems I don’t care to repeat. I did this hike on November 21, 2014 (a 5-hour hike to the longji rice terraces at longji ancient zhuang village), and the colors at that time were glowing and golden.  Now that it’s summer, the terraces are green and filled with water, making for a whole different experience.

I start hiking through Ping’An Village, where the villagers are already busy at work.

The village of Ping'An from the Longji International Youth Hostel

The village of Ping’An from the Longji International Youth Hostel

view from the deck of the hostel

view from the deck of the hostel

construction in progress

construction in progress

I encounter the Zhuang women in the streets, preparing their vegetables and wares for sale.

ladies preparing vegetables in the streets of Ping'An

ladies preparing vegetables in the streets of Ping’An

I pass by the cheerful sign at the MeiYou Cafe.

MeiYou Cafe

MeiYou Cafe

more of Ping'An Village on the hill

more of Ping’An Village on the hill

some kind of veggies, but not sure what. Rice?

some kind of veggies, but not sure what. Rice?

Rooftops of Ping'An from the hilltops

Rooftops of Ping’An from the hilltops

Finally, I reach the edge of the village, where I have my first view of Seven Stars with Moon.

First view of the rice terraces upon leaving the village en route to Longji

First view of the rice terraces upon leaving the village en route to Longji

Rice terraces

Seven Stars with Moon

Rice terraces outside of Ping'An

Rice terraces outside of Ping’An

Rice terraces

Rice terraces

Rice terraces

Seven Stars with Moon

Rice terraces

Seven Stars with Moon

As I’m walking along the edge of Seven Stars with Moon, I meet two Chinese girls who speak excellent English.  We have a little chat.  They want some pictures with me, and then they ask me to take a picture of them.

me with two Chinese girls

me with two Chinese girls

The path is very narrow, so I have to fall back into the ferns on the edge of a terrace to take their picture.  When I do that, they take a picture of me.

me pushed up against a terrace trying to take a pic of the Chinese girls

me pushed up against a terrace trying to take a pic of the Chinese girls

Rice terraces

Seven Stars with Moon

Then they take a picture of me with Seven Stars with Moon.  I love the names the Chinese give to natural places.

Me at the rice terraces on my hike

Me at Seven Stars with Moon on my hike

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

 

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

Seven Stars with Moon

I continue on my walk until I reach a little bridge, where I stop and sit for a bit.  It’s quite hot and humid today, as always seems to be the case in Guangxi province.

the bridge on the hike to Longji

the bridge on the hike to Longji

After a long walk through a wooded area, I come out at the other end, near the Longji Rice Terraces, and I get my first amazing views.

heading toward the Longji Rice Terraces

heading toward the Longji Rice Terraces

water in the terraces

water in the terraces

close up of the water in the rice terraces

close up of the water in the rice terraces

I pass some men building a house or a barn, I’m not sure what.

a construction project along the way

a construction project along the way

view on the hike

view on the hike

dragonfly

dragonfly

I catch my first glimpse of Longji Ancient Zhuang Village and the houses and farms on the outskirts.

coming out of the woods and approaching the village of Longji

coming out of the woods and approaching the village of Longji

outskirts of Longji

outskirts of Longji

a flowery view

a flowery view

I pass some Chinese tourists carrying umbrellas even though it is neither raining nor sunny.

Chinese tourists walking in the terraces

Chinese tourists walking in the terraces

lotus plants and rice

lotus plants and rice

the path ahead

the path ahead

the terraces

the terraces

The views are amazing and I just continue on my way.  The views are so beautiful they take my breath away.  As I approach the far end of my hike, there are more tourists.  Chinese tourists generally don’t go in for long hikes.  Most of the time, they stay huddled together in crowds and don’t venture off onto areas by themselves.  Thus, on the hike from Ping’An to Longji, I’ve seen hardly any people until this point, the separate entrance to the rice terraces.

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

As I reach the Longji Terraces, there are amazing views of pancake-stacked terraces, as the land has been carefully carved into contours over the centuries.

The Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces

layers and layers

layers and layers

a contoured landscape

a contoured landscape

The Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces

The Longji Rice Terraces

the Longji Rice Terraces at the viewpoint

the Longji Rice Terraces at the viewpoint

I finally reach my turn-around point, the touristy entrance to the Longji Terraces.  It’s been a long walk, about 2 hours, and now I will turn around and return to Ping’An, retracing my steps, with a detour into Longji Ancient Zhuang Village.  Because of this detour, it will take me about 3 hours to make my way back.

Tourist shops at the entrance to the Longji Rice Terraces

Tourist shops at the entrance to the Longji Rice Terraces

Tourist shops at Longji

Tourist shops at Longji

I stop for the “official view” with the stone carving commemorating the Longji Rice Terraces.

Stone marker for the Longji Rice Terraces

Stone marker for the Longji Rice Terraces

After one last look at the rice terraces from the stone marker overlook, I begin to make my way back, taking the lower path to walk through Longji Ancient Zhuang Village.

Looking back from where I came

Looking back from where I came

Oh, how I love this place! 🙂

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Longji Rice Terraces, Longsheng County, Ping'An Village, Seven Stars with Moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

a final journey to ping’an and the longji rice terraces

Friday, June 26: I have been determined to see the rice terraces one more time before I leave China, but the idea of it has been daunting.  The journey takes so long, with numerous transfers and hassles, and I have no more 3-day weekends to spread out the effort it takes to get there.  Besides, after fighting hordes of people in Shanghai on the Labor Day holiday in early May, I resolved not to travel on any more holiday weekends in China.  Nonetheless, I gather my courage about me and commit to the journey by buying the train tickets and reserving my hotel in Ping’An.

This afternoon, immediately after my classes end at noon, I make haste to the front gate to catch the bus to the train station. After catching the 1:15 p.m. fast train at Nanning Railway Station, I arrive in Guilin at 3:45.  I go out to the bus stop on the street directly in front of the Guilin train station, where I take bus 91 to the Qin Tan Bus Station, arriving there at 4:00. Then I take the next local bus at the bus station for Longsheng, telling the ticket agent I want to get off at Heping. When we finally get underway from Qin Tan, it is 4:33.

When I arrive at Heping at 6:15, it’s too late in the day to take the regular bus up to the Ping’An parking lot, so I pay a driver at Heping to take me up the mountain 35 minutes to the Ping’an parking lot. It’s a long and winding road over mountains, and I am finally dropped at the Ping’An parking lot at 6:50.  From there, I pay the entrance fee to Ping’An and walk through the gate and up and up and up to the Longji International Youth Hostel, arriving at 7:05.

a woman at work in the garden in Ping'an Village

a woman at work in the garden in Ping’An Village

Even without much delay between the various legs of the trip, it’s a 7 hour trip door to door, as I left the university at noon and arrived slightly after 7:00!  Upon arrival, I immediately order a Tsingtao beer and have a seat on the deck of the hostel to watch people scurrying about in the village.

View of Ping'An Village from the deck of the Longji International Youth Hostel

View of Ping’An Village from the deck of the Longji International Youth Hostel

After my beer, I order dinner as I haven’t eaten anything all day.  With all the stomach problems I’ve been having in China, I didn’t dare eat anything that might upset my stomach when I had such a long trip ahead of me.  I eat some eggs with leeks, and settle in at an early hour, reading my book, The Sandcastle Girls, by Chris Bohjalian.

Ceiling art in the common room at the Longji International Youth Hostel

Ceiling art in the common room at the Longji International Youth Hostel

I have to get plenty of rest because I have a long hike before me tomorrow. I’m so happy to be here once again, because after all the traveling I’ve done in China, I’ve decided the rice terraces are my favorite place.

Categories: Asia, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Guilin, Longji Rice Terraces, Longsheng County, Nanning, Nanning Railway Station, Ping'An Village | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

the beihai golden bay mangrove ecotourist region

Saturday, June 6:  After Mari and I visit Beibuwan Square, we head to the Beihai Golden Bay Mangrove Ecotourist Region.  I don’t know what to expect, as I don’t even know what mangroves are.

Later, I find on Wikipedia: Mangrove that mangroves are types of trees up to medium height and shrubs that grow in saline coastal sediment habitats in the tropics and subtropics —mainly between latitudes 25° N and 25° S.

We hop in the open air banana-yellow tram shown below, and drive down a long road by the bay, where we’re deposited at a boardwalk that meanders through the mangroves.

our mode of transportation at the mangrove bay

our mode of transportation at the mangrove bay

Entrance to the beihai golden bay mangrove ecotourist region

Entrance to the beihai golden bay mangrove ecotourist region

walkway through the beihai golden bay mangrove ecotourist region

walkway through the beihai golden bay mangrove ecotourist region

Mangroves are salt tolerant trees (halophytes) adapted to live in harsh coastal conditions. They contain a complex salt filtration system and complex root system to cope with salt water immersion and wave action. They are adapted to the low oxygen (anoxic) conditions of waterlogged mud (Wikipedia: Mangrove).

They are often referred to as “forests in the sea.”  The mangrove tree’s seeds remain hanging on the mother tree until saplings appear. Some then fall into the mud and take root, while others are carried to other areas by seawater. The mangrove tree has speedy reproduction and growth. Eventually the tree roots and branches mix up, creating a kind of natural beauty (Roam China: Mangrove Forest).

mangroves

mangroves

From the boardwalk, we can see mudskippers and fiddler crabs skittering around in the muddy swamp.  We can see a pavilion and the sea and acres and acres of the dusty mangroves.

walkway through the mangroves

walkway through the mangroves

mangrove bay

mangrove bay

gnarly mangroves

gnarly mangroves

We continue our stroll, and I for one am looking forward to following the boardwalk out to the pavilion near the sea.

pavilion in the mangroves

pavilion in the mangroves

However, we soon find there is no longer a pathway as it has fallen into disrepair.

remnants of a walkway to the pavilion

remnants of a walkway to the pavilion

a sign along the way

a sign along the way

following the walkway

following the walkway

meandering

meandering

looking out to the bay

looking out to the bay

tidepools

tide pools

As we look out to sea, we can spot a fisherman slowly making his way back to the road.

more tidepools

more tide pools

a man of the sea

a man of the sea

fisherman

fisherman

heading home

heading home

At the end of the mangrove area, we hop on the tram again.  It drops us at the end of the park, which we think will have something else interesting to see.  In fact, it is just a disheveled children’s playground and picnic area, so commonly seen in China.  We do encounter some fashionably dressed ladies on motorbikes.

motorbike lady

motorbike lady

high fashion

high fashion

We find this old boat on the shore and pause to take some photos.

a fancy boat

a fancy boat

Mari and the boat

Mari and the boat

boats on the bay

boats on the bay

boats at bay

boats at bay

rompers on the beach

rompers on the beach

Finally, we get back on the tram to return to the park entrance.  Mari wants to take me to Beihai’s famous Silver Beach, a surprisingly strange place!

Categories: Asia, Beihai, beihai golden bay mangrove ecotourist region, China, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

shanghai days | the old city: fuyou road, yu yuan & xintiandi |

Sunday, May 3:  After leaving the Pudong waterfront, I get on metro for one stop and switch to line 10, where I get off one stop later at Yu Yuan.  I’m heading into the Old City, the traditional urban core of Shanghai, formerly known as the Chinese City. It was based on the original walled city of Shanghai, dating back to the 11th century.  After the Opium War in 1842, foreign concessions (ceded territories within China, governed and occupied by foreign powers) were established to the north of the Old City, which remained under Chinese control.  Only foreigners could settled in the concessions (except for the Chinese who already lived there), while newly arrived Chinese residents lived in packed and squalid conditions in the Old City, which was a kind of ghetto.  Most of the Old City walls were dismantled in 1912 (Wikipedia: Old City of Shanghai and Lonely Planet China).

I have no idea where to go, but I follow the crowds to Fuyou Road, a small street running east-west along the northern edge of Yuyuan, where the Sunday market is in full swing.  A frenetic atmosphere pervades this street as shopkeepers holler for attention and shoppers rifle through goods on tables and racks, leaving chaos in their wake.

Merchants and crowds on Fuyou Road

Merchants and crowds on Fuyou Road

In this little video, you can get a sense for the noise level on a busy Chinese street.

Fuyou Road

Fuyou Road

I poke into a few shops to check out the scarves and textiles of various sorts, but they all look cheaply made, so I continue on.

Fuyou Road

Fuyou Road

Fuyou Road

Fuyou Road

Fuyou Road

Fuyou Road

street food on Fuyou Road

street food on Fuyou Road

little pretties on Fuyou Road

little pretties on Fuyou Road

street vendor on Fuyou Road

street vendor on Fuyou Road

At a big corner on the pedestrian-only street heading toward the Old City, three young people approach me and ask if they can take their picture with me.  We pose together and then I ask them if they’ll take a picture of me with my camera.  Their English is very good and they tell me they’re students.  They ask where I’m going and I tell them I’m looking for Yu Yuan Garden.  They tell me this is Yu Yuan Garden.  I don’t believe them, as this looks nothing like a garden. 🙂  Already I’m suspicious.

Fuyou Road

Fuyou Road

me in the middle of Fuyou Road

me in the middle of Fuyou Road

After conversing for a while in a laid-back way, they tell me they’d like to take me to a tea house they know of.  Aha!  The Shanghai Tea Scam, again!  This is the second time in three days that young people have tried to pull the tea scam on me.  I tell them no thanks and start walking away, and then they get quite aggressive: “Why? Where are you going?  Why won’t you come with us?”  I should have said, “Oh!  The famous tea scam!” Instead, I hightail it into the crowds, where I follow the signs to the Classic Chinese Street.

I figure if this is Yuyuan Garden, it is nothing like any garden I’ve ever seen. I figure an actual “garden” will turn up if I just follow the crowds.

on the way to Yuyuan Garden

on the way to Yuyuan Garden

on the way to Yuyuan Garden

on the way to Yuyuan Garden

The center of the activity in the Old City is an area called Changhaung Miao, where I find, in the midst of a modern touristy bazaar, one of the most crowded tourist sites in the city: Huxin Ting Teahouse.

on the way to Yuyuan Garden

on the way to Yuyuan Garden

Huxin Ting (Heart of Lake Pavilion) is a two-story teahouse sitting on an island at the center of an ornamental pond, reached by a zigzag bridge.   Many famous people have come here for an expensive cup of tea, including the Queen of England and Bill Clinton (Lonely Planet China).

tea house

Huxin Ting Teahouse

A convoluted walkway leads to the tea house and across the pond.  The walkway is packed and policemen are blowing whistles and prodding people along.  The line moves at a snail’s pace with every Chinese person taking pictures along the walkway with the tea house as a backdrop.

the line past the tea house on the way to Yuyuan Garden

the line past Huxin Ting Teahouse on the way to Yuyuan Garden

Traditional Chinese buildings

Traditional Chinese buildings

the pond and tea houses

the pond and tea houses

the pond and tea houses

the pond and tea houses

When I emerge from the walkway on the other side of the pond, I see a line forming at a ticket booth.  I almost walk past but then I ask some foreigners, “What are the tickets for?” They tell me it’s Yu Yuan (Jade Garden).  Ah, finally, the elusive garden. I buy the ticket for 40 yuan (~$6.50).  I find a number of halls that look similar to the one below, but I don’t linger long.

a hall at Yuyuan Garden

a hall at Yuyuan Garden

According to Lonely Planet China, Yu Yuan (Jade Garden) is “a classical Chinese garden featuring ponds, walkways, bridges and rockeries.”

The garden “was finished in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) named Pan Yunduan. Yu in Chinese means pleasing and satisfying, and this garden was specially built for Pan’s parents as a place for them to enjoy a tranquil and happy time in their old age,” according to China Travel Guide: Yuyuan Garden.

Due to fluctuating fortunes and historical events, the garden went through numerous changes. During the late Ming Dynasty, it became dilapidated with the decline of Pan’s family. In 1760, some rich merchants bought it and spent more than 20 years reconstructing the buildings. During the Opium War of the 19th century, it was severely damaged. Today’s garden is the result of a five-year restoration project which began in 1956. It was opened to the public in September, 1961 (China Travel Guide: Yuyuan Garden).

keyhole in the wall

keyhole in the wall

flying eaves

flying eaves

Yuyuan Garden

Yuyuan Garden

Stone creature

Stone creature

Chamber of Ten Thousand Flowers

Chamber of Ten Thousand Flowers

Gardens & ponds

Gardens & ponds

The garden is packed with people on this holiday weekend, but I love it anyway because it is so iconically Chinese.

One of my favorite features of the garden is the whitewashed undulating garden wall topped with a dragon made of tiles.

Dragon head on the gate

Dragon head on the gate

After leaving the garden, I head back into the Old City and make my way through the narrow alleys back to Fuyou Road.

Back in the town

Back in the town

pretty cups all in a row

pretty cups all in a row

Back on Fuyou Road, I stop to check out the scarves, where I pick up 3 for 10 yuan ($1.60). When I get back to my hotel later, I find two of them have flaws in them, bright white lines cutting through.  Oh well, even one for $1.61 isn’t bad.

I get back on Line 10 of the metro and go two stops to Xintiandi, which consists of two blocks of renovated shikumen converted to a Western-style open air mall.  Shikumen is a traditional Shanghainese architectural style combining Western and Chinese elements that first appeared in the 1860s.  At the height of their popularity, there were 9000 shikumen-style buildings in Shanghai, comprising 60% of the total housing stock of the city (Wikipedia: Shikumen).

At this place, I almost feel like I’m back in the USA, as this kind of open air mall is so familiar.  Both Chinese and Western people are wandering about at this mall, and I almost feel like I’m home.  At this point, I think that I could almost live in Shanghai.  Of course, that would be disregarding the numbers of people in the city.  However, this small area is not as crowded as the Bund or Yu Yuan, as this is not such a tourist spot.

I stop for a lunch at a “healthy spot” called Sproutworks, where I order two sides: orzo and cauliflower (soaked in oil) for 25 yuan (~$4).

Two sides: orzo & cauliflower

Two sides: orzo & cauliflower

Xintiandi

Xintiandi

Xintiandi

Xintiandi

Xintiandi

Xintiandi

Xintiandi

Xintiandi

After walking through Xintiandi, I feel tired and want to return to my hotel.  I don’t feel like tackling the metro again, so I take a taxi for 25 yuan (~$4).  At this point I still have 51 yuan on my metro card which I will never be able to use.

Back in my neighborhood, I walk down the street and buy a peach yogurt drink and head to a massage place where I pay 119 yuan (~$19) for an hour-long aromatic foot massage.  It feels great and makes me feel really sleepy.

Massage place

Massage place

I stop at a discount shoe store but I don’t find anything of interest.  My silver sandals are really worn out and my tennis shoes are still wet from yesterday, so I was hoping to find a cheap alternative.

Back at the room, I relax until 5:00, at which time I go down to the hotel bar for a glass of wine.  Tonight is salsa night at the hotel, so I enjoy watching the Chinese folks doing salsa on the dance floor.

Chinese folks doing salsa

Chinese folks doing salsa

Dancing up a storm

Dancing up a storm

I had seen some dumpling places on the street, so I go outside in search of dinner.  I always love dumplings in China, so when I find a spot, I go inside.  However, the only menu is on the wall in Chinese, which makes it impossible to translate with my WayGo app.  I can’t even figure out how we’re supposed to order.  As I’m totally ignored, I decide to try another place.

Dumpling shop

Dumpling shop

dumplings in bamboo stacks

dumplings in bamboo stacks

Finally, I find a place where I can sit down and read the menu with my WayGo app, and I order Chinese cabbage pork dumplings (6) and shrimp and greens pouches (6), all for 25 yuan.  I mix some minced garlic and red-hot oil with the soy sauce and dip the dumplings into the sauce.  They are delicious!  I’m hooked now on Shanghai dumplings. 🙂

Chinese cabbage pork dumplings & Shrimp & greens pouches

Chinese cabbage pork dumplings & Shrimp & greens pouches

Back at the hotel, the salsa night is in full swing and I don’t really feel like hanging out in the crowded bar.  I’m more of a quiet-bar-kinda-girl.  I return to my hotel where I take a long hot bath and relax and read for the night.  I have a super early flight back to Nanning tomorrow from Hongqiao Airport, which is luckily closer to my hotel than Pudong International Airport, from where I arrived on Thursday night.

Categories: Asia, China, Fuyou Road, Huxin Ting Teahouse, Old City, Shanghai, Sunday market, Travel, Xintiandi, Yuyuan Garden | Tags: , , , , , , | 15 Comments

a stroll along the pudong shore for a cloudy-day view of the bund

Sunday, May 3:  Last night, I accidentally set the alarm for 6:30 p.m., so this morning I slept a little later than I intended to. 🙂 I make some coffee in my room, catch up on Instagram and then soak in a long steamy bath.  I go out without having breakfast in the hotel, and that seems to work to alleviate some of the stomach troubles I’ve been plagued with all weekend.

I get on metro at 9 a.m. and go straight to the Lujiazui stop in Pudong.  I head directly to Riverside Avenue, bypassing the long queues waiting to go to the top of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower.  I have no interest in standing in those queues as it’s a dark and cloudy morning and the view from the top wouldn’t be anything special.

Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong

Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Pudong

Pudong

Pudong

Modern architecture in Pudong

Modern architecture in Pudong

Traffic circle in Pudong

Traffic circle in Pudong

downtown Pudong

downtown Pudong

To be honest, the view from the riverside isn’t great either.  When I was at the Bund on Friday, I was frustrated that the sun was to the west, foiling my attempts to get decent pictures of the old colonial buildings lining the Huangpu River. Thus I determined that this morning I would head directly to Pudong, so when I looked across the river to the west, the sun would be behind me.  However, it’s so cloudy and grey, that the views are not good.  No matter.  They do give you an idea of how different the west side of the river is from the east.  The Bund is old, classic and a little stodgy, while Pudong is glittering, colorful and modern.  I find it fascinating that the two sides of the river are so different.

The Bund from Pudong

The Bund from Pudong

Of course, since I’m on the Pudong side, I have to take some pictures of the modern side too, especially the Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the Shanghai International Convention Center.

The Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the Shanghai International Convention Center

The Oriental Pearl TV Tower and the Shanghai International Convention Center

The word ‘bund’ derives from an Anglo-Indian word for an embankment along a muddy waterfront.  That was what the Bund was originally (China Highlights: The Bund of Shanghai).

According to Wikipedia, the Shanghai Bund boasts dozens of historical buildings along the Huangpu River that once housed numerous banks and trading houses from the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Italy, Germany, Russia, Japan, the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as the Russian and British consulates, a newspaper, the Shanghai Club and the Masonic Club. The Bund lies north of the old, walled city of Shanghai. It was initially a British settlement; later the British and American settlements were combined in the International Settlement. Magnificent commercial buildings in the Beaux Arts style sprung up in the years around the turn of the 20th century as the Bund developed into a major financial center of East Asia. (Wikipedia: The Bund)

The Bund

The Bund

The Bund across the Huangpu River

The Bund across the Huangpu River

As I walk along the Pudong waterfront, a small flotilla of official-looking boats comes down the river blaring trumpets and other loud instruments, much like a marching band in a parade.  I guess they’re celebrating International Workers’ Day, which was Friday.  This is, after all, the holiday weekend.

The Bund as seen from Pudong

The Bund as seen from Pudong

a musical flotilla

a musical flotilla

a celebratory parade of boats

a celebratory parade of boats

a musical celebration of the Labour Day holiday

a musical celebration of the Labour Day holiday

The Bund from Pudong

The Bund from Pudong

A cloudy day on the Bund

A cloudy day on the Bund

I guess I’m just not meant to get any great pictures of the Bund this weekend. 😦

The Bund

The Bund

Pudong and the Shangri-La

Pudong and the Shangri-La

Flags at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower

Flags at the Oriental Pearl TV Tower

looking up in Pudong

looking up in Pudong

After my riverside walk, I make my way to the metro.  My next destination is Yuyuan Garden.

Categories: Asia, China, Holidays, Huangpu River, International Workers' Day, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Pudong, Shanghai, Shanghai International Convention Center, The Bund | Tags: , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

rainy day in shanghai: yufo si, renmin square & a chinese massage

Saturday, May 2:  This morning, I eat the buffet breakfast in the hotel and thus get a later start than I planned, leaving around 9:30. I take line 2 of the metro to Jing’an Temple Station then switch to line 7, where I go 2 stops to Changshou Road Station.  It has been forecast to rain all day today, and as I walk the 10 minute walk to Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple, the skies are getting heavier and more foreboding.  By the time I reach the temple, it’s looking like the skies will open up any minute.

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

The temple was originally built in 1882 to keep two jade Buddha statues which had been brought from Burma by a monk named Huigen. The temple was destroyed during the revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty, but the statues were saved and a new temple was built on the present site in 1928. It was named Yufo Si, or the Jade Buddha Temple (Travel China Guide: Jade Buddha Temple).

The temple is a lively place of worship, with believers kowtowing before past and future Buddhas, and incense wafting from large incense burners in the courtyard.

As I enter the courtyard, it starts to sprinkle, so I head indoors to the central Great Treasure Hall, which holds three huge figures of the past, present and future Buddhas.

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

The gods of the twenty heavens, decorated with gold leaf, line the Great Treasure Hall, like stern headmasters welcoming new students to a prestigious school.

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Monks and worshippers are actively praying and making offerings in the Great Treasure Hall.

Devotees at Yufo Si

Devotees at Yufo Si

Yufo Si

Yufo Si

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

At the back of the Great Treasure Hall, I see a monk and I motion with my camera to ask if it’s okay to take his picture.  He doesn’t say no, but as I put my camera up to take the picture he opens his umbrella to block himself from my photo.  An Italian woman who is nearby scolds me: “No!  You can’t take a picture, not of him!”  I said, “Oh, no one told me.”  Obviously her tour group leader must have told her that.  I’ve taken pictures of monks all over China and Myanmar and have never had a problem.  She scolds me again, “No! Not him!”  I feel like saying but I don’t: “Who appointed you the photo police?”  I wish now I had said it!  I really hate it when bossy and nosy tourists try to tell me what I can and cannot do.

According to China Travel Guide, “the two precious jade Buddhist statues are not only rare cultural relics but also porcelain artworks. Both the Sitting Buddha and the Recumbent Buddha are carved with whole white jade. The sparkling and crystal-clear white jade gives the Buddhas the beauty of sanctity and make them more vivid.”

I have to pay an extra 10 yuan to see the the Sitting Buddha, housed in the Jade Buddha Tower.  It is 190 centimeters high and encrusted by agate and emerald, portraying the Buddha at the moment of his meditation and enlightenment. Sadly, no photographs are allowed.  Again, these no-photo rules annoy me because I honestly don’t see any reason for them.  If they want to keep their temple for worshippers only, then they should do so, and they shouldn’t open it up to tourists. If they open the temple to tourists, they should allow photos.

Below is the courtyard of the Jade Buddha Tower.

courtyard at Yufo Si

courtyard at Yufo Si

Courtyard at Yufo Si

Courtyard at Yufo Si

After leaving the Jade Buddha Tower, I walk down a corridor under red lanterns toward the Recumbent Buddha Hall.

Lanterns at Yufo Si

Lanterns at Yufo Si

red lanterns

red lanterns

The Recumbent Buddha is 96 centimeters long, lying on the right side with the right hand supporting the head and the left hand placed on the left leg; this shape is called the ‘lucky repose’. The sedate face shows the peaceful mood of Sakyamuni when he left this world. In the temple there is also another Recumbent Buddha which is four meters long and was brought from Singapore by the tenth abbot of the temple in 1989 (Travel China Guide: Jade Buddha Temple).

Below is the Recumbent Buddha brought from Singapore.  Again, no photos are allowed of the smaller and more famous recumbent Buddha from Burma.

a reclining Buddha

a reclining Buddha

In front of the small recumbent Buddha (which of course is not pictured), a group of older Chinese ladies are chanting with their hands over their heads in prayer stance.

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

guardians at Yufo Si

guardians at Yufo Si

guardians at Yufo Si

guardians at Yufo Si

When I return to the courtyard, the rain is coming down in a steady drizzle and I’m hoping as I prepare to leave that I can simply take a taxi to Renmin Park.

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Yufo Si, the Jade Buddha Temple

Outside Yufo Si, there are no taxis in sight.  I walk down the street to a more heavily traveled road, but the taxis that whiz past are all occupied.  I accidentally step in a puddle and one foot is then soaked.  I stand for quite a while in the pouring rain hoping for a taxi, but I finally have to give up and walk the 10 minutes back to the metro.  By the time I arrive at the Changshou Station, the bottoms of my pants and my feet are soaked through.

I take the #7 line back to Jing’an Temple station, and then switch to the #2 to People’s Park, also called Renmin Square.  As I walk toward the square, I pass by the Shanghai Grand Theatre, with its convex roof and its transparent walls and pillars.

Shanghai Grand Theatre

Shanghai Grand Theatre

Shanghai Grand Theatre

Shanghai Grand Theatre

Renmin Square, or People’s Square, is the modern heart of Shanghai.  The area was originally the site of the Shanghai racecourse, built by the British in 1862.  In 1941, Chiang Kaishek converted it to a sports area, as he thought gambling immoral.  During WWII, the stadium served as a holding camp for prisoners and a temporary mortuary (Lonely Planet China).

I am in search of museums today since it is raining and forecast to rain all day, but when I get to the pot-shaped Shanghai Museum, I see there is a long line of people huddled under umbrellas waiting to get in.  I guess everyone has the same idea.  I decide not to bother.

The Shanghai Museum

The Shanghai Museum

the umbrella brigade

the umbrella brigade

rainy day at the museum

rainy day at the museum

Shanghai Museum

Shanghai Museum

I decide to go in search of the Shanghai Art Museum.  The park is huge and I see some signs for the museum, but whenever I follow them, they don’t seem to lead anywhere.  Some girls stop me and ask if they can take a picture with me.  I let them and then ask about the museum.  They tell me it is no longer here in Renmin Park but has been moved across the river to Pudong and is now called the China Art Museum, moved in 2012 to the former China Pavilion of Expo 2010.  That’s what I get for depending on my 2010 edition of Lonely Planet China.

Both of the girls who have stopped me are very fluent in English and are asking me all kinds of questions about where I’m from and what I’m doing in China.  The next thing I know, they’re asking me to accompany them to a tea house ceremony.  Alas, this is my first encounter with the famous Shanghai Tea House Ceremony Scam, a common scam pulled on Westerners in Shanghai and Beijing.  The scam involves a small group of friendly Chinese students (usually 3-4) who approach Westerners, talk to them in a friendly manner, and invite them to a tea ceremony which can end up costing 650 – 2000 RMB.

Luckily I recognize the scam for what it is, and I suddenly tell the girls I have to leave.  They protest too loudly, but I continue to walk away.

Next, I go in search of the Museum of Contemporary Art in the midst of the groves and ponds of Renmin Park.  Here, I find an exhibit called “Echos” by Oliviero Rainaldi, an exhibit of human forms in utmost simplicity.  You can read about the exhibition here: ARTLINKART: ECHOS – SCULPTURES BY OLIVIERO RAINALDI.

Walking upstairs at the museum, I find a kind of children’s area, where children can make art.

in the children's area of the Museum of Contemporary Art

in the children’s area of the Museum of Contemporary Art

world map

world map

I also find an inviting cafe where I decide I will eat, mainly because I need a place to sit down and rest out of the rain. I order a set lunch with an appetizer of mousse with crabmeat and grapefruit and a glass of white wine, followed by a main course of shrimp, asparagus and mushroom pasta.  I figure I can’t go wrong with Western food in such a nice restaurant.  The meal is quite expensive too, at 238 RMB (~$38), the most I’ve spent in any restaurant during my entire year in China.  I realize I’m spending all this money just because I’m tired and want a place to sit out of the rain.

mousse with crabmeat and grapefruit

mousse with crabmeat and grapefruit

A group of well-heeled Chinese women of a certain age, maybe in their 40s and very stylish, are enjoying lunch at the next table.  I feel generally miserable and frumpy, as my hair is a mess and my clothes are wet. Though I have a nice view of a lotus pond out the window, I still don’t enjoy the lunch mainly because I feel so grubby and unkempt.

Restaurant at the Museum of Contemporary Art

Restaurant at the Museum of Contemporary Art

I soon find that I’m wrong about not going wrong with Western food.  As I’m eating the meal, I feel progressively sicker and sicker.  What is wrong?? I’m so baffled by all my stomach problems in China.  No matter what I eat, almost everything makes me sick.  This is from someone who, during three weeks in India, where EVERYONE gets sick, NEVER got sick.  I’ve been a whole year in China and have been sick almost constantly.  The meal looks perfectly harmless, doesn’t it?

shrimp, asparagus and mushroom pasta

shrimp, asparagus and mushroom pasta

I also eat some waffles with berries and ice cream, hoping the waffles will settle my stomach.  They don’t.

I visit the bathroom, where I find some very unusual wallpaper. Don’t be shocked by what you read between the petals.

the bathroom wallpaper

the bathroom wallpaper

After I leave the museum, I walk through Renmin Park.  Finally, it has stopped raining, but now I’m no longer in any mood to explore as my stomach is cramping and I’m exhausted.

Renmin Park

Renmin Park

Clocktower seen from Renmin Park

Clocktower seen from Renmin Park

Renmin Park

Renmin Park

I decide I don’t feel like doing any more sightseeing today.  I’ve been defeated by the weather.  I go in search of the metro, which takes a long time to find, and take it back to Zhongshan Road.  I bypass the hotel and go straight to a massage place, where I have a great Chinese massage for an hour, for 168 yuan (~$27).  It feels great and is something I really need.  I feel pampered and refreshed after.

I stop at the Family Mart near the hotel and buy an orange juice, a grapefruit juice, a banana and a Snickers bar.  I eat and drink all this for my dinner and then take a long hot bath in my nice hotel.

I feel a lot better after all that, so I decide I should take advantage of the nice bar in the hotel, so I go downstairs, sit at the bar and order a glass of red wine, just before the 8:00 happy hour deadline.  A young man next to me asks where I’m from and I tell him I’m American. He mentions that he just met an American girl today who works in Shanghai and told him where he could buy some curtains. He says he’s a pilot with Lufthansa. I say, isn’t that the airline where the pilot committed suicide and brought down the whole jet, taking all those innocent people with him?  He says that was Germanwings, owned by Lufthansa.  I say, it must be a hard job, sitting in that cockpit for hours on end.  He says he loves it because it’s what he’s always wanted to do.  I say, you seem so young to be a pilot and he responds that he’s 36.  I say, from where I sit, I think everyone seems to be in their 20s.

What a ridiculous conversation it is, with me saying so many foolish things!  Anyway, I head up to my room after that one drink, ready to get a good night’s rest so I can tackle Shanghai for one more day!

Categories: Asia, China, Jade Buddha Temple, Museum of Contemporary Art, Renmin Park, Shanghai, Shanghai Grand Theatre, Shanghai Museum, Travel, Yufo Si | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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