Tag Archives: culture

#Food Culture

30 Jun

😂  Nice that #America gets the knife, fork, spoon 🍴 on our art at the Zhengzhou #airport (To be fair – so did #Italy and #France).  None of this #chopstick thing for us! No sir!

btw – chopsticks + glass rice noodles = IMPOSSIBLE! 🍜

Art I Love ~ 古风美人

6 Jun

Whistling Through the Vines

1 Jun

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The province of Henan resides in central China, and is home to the largest population here. Although the modern day center is the famous Beijing, China’s history has to a large extent actually centered around Henan itself. Of the six ancient capitals in the country, three of them are in Henan.  If you’ve ever watched some of the popular Chinese martial arts films, you will have heard the names “Luoyang,” Kaifeng,” and “Shaolin Temple.”  I now can proudly say I’ve been to all these places and more! At this point, I’ve visited:

  • Anyang
  • Xinyang
  • Nanyang
  • Pingdingshan
  • Zhoukou
  • Zhumadian
  • Zhengzhou
  • Xinzheng
  • Kaifeng
  • Luoyang

and more! 

This past weekend, I got the opportunity to add a new city to my list — Gongyi (巩义市).  Gongyi is a small city about 1 hour from Zhengzhou (the capital).  On one side you have Mount Song and many hills (beautiful!). On another, it is bordered by the Yellow River, one of the 2 most famous in China. 

Image result for Gongyi map

The entire trip for us was planned by the Henan Tourism Organization (the provincial tourism committee), so we didn’t actually have to pay for anything. However, the cost wasn’t bad at all even if you did pay.  

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The bus ride up there costs about 10RMB ($1.50) and was extremely interesting just on its own. We passed the lovely shrine/temple shown above (I’m not exactly sure what that was – we didn’t stop), but even more awesome were the hundreds of Cave Homes we passed!  Here in Gongyi, many people actually still live in caves dug into the cliffs surrounding the area.  Although most westerners think “oh poverty!”, this isn’t actually true.  A lot of these homes are really nice and awesome!  They have running water and electricity, drive up roads, yards and gardens in the front, elaborate front doors, etc.  They are really nice, just inside a mountain. I wasn’t able to get excellent photos since we just drove past them, but sometime I want to go back. 

When you arrive in the city, you’ll see a lot of things dedicated to DuFu (杜甫). DuFu lived in the Tang Dynasty (700s) and is considered perhaps China’s best poet!  According to the Chinese, he was born here and is still revered as seen through the statues and monument decorating the city.  According to the tour guide, the Chinese consider him the #1 literary person to know and he has often been considered the “Chinese Shakespeare.” His ancestral home is here too!

 

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Once we arrived, we had a small trek to our restaurant so we walked through the Imperial Mausoleums of the Song Dynasty (960-1279).  Also called the “Song Tombs”, this area is where all but one emperor of the North Song Dynasty are buried.  They include Tai Zu (Zhao Kuangyin), Tai Zong (Zhao Guangyi), Zhen Zong (Zhao Heng), Ren Zong (Zhao Zhen), Ying Zong (Zhao Shu), Shen Zong (Zhao Xu) and Zhe Zong (Zhao Xu).  🙂 

This part was free (it’s just a giant city part area where you can walk around) and was huge for a city park. A great place to take your kids for a picnic! Up towards the tombs themselves are a long row of stone statues that were really interesting. 

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After lunch, we got back on the bus and took about a 20 minute ride to the Kang Mansion (Kangbaiwan – 河南巩义康百万庄园).  “Baiwan” means Millionaire, so this is the home of the Millionaire Kang family.  Considering that they lived hundreds of years ago, that’s a pretty big claim!  

 

The family originated with Kang Ying-Kui in the Ming Dynasty, and its fame lasted more than 400 years (that’s 13 generations!).  According to a monument inside, the family was famous not only for its wealth, but also for its honor. The monument is a plaque written by an emperor honoring the Kangs for having 8 generations of “good, noble, honest sons.”  Apparently, they were loyal, fair, honest, and not corrupt–well worth honoring!

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Kang Ying-Kui came to fame by suppressing Bailianism (a so-called the White Lotus Religion– mixed Buddhism with Taoism and worshipped a goddess Wusheng Laomu).  The group didn’t fit in with the accepted religions of the time and allowed men and women to “interact in a shockingly free manner.” 😛 (Apparently they brought a bunch of “groups” together and were a threat of rebellion.  Anyway,  the Kangs were really fashionable and already pretty rich from their own business (river transportation and agricultural products).  There was some sort of phrase like “if you travel 1000 miles you’ll still be on Kang property).  This brought them to the notice of the royal family who helped raise them up even further. 

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Inside, there are 19 different parts and about 65,000 square meters.  There are 53 multi-story buildings, 97 “bungalows,” 73 cave homes, and approximately 570 rooms in total.  It was built in the 17th – 18th centuries (1600s-1700s), and the architecture is in the form of the North China “Loess plateau” style.  Basically, that means it was in the era’s feudalistic form (many small buildings with hundreds of carvings and art in the wooden, brick, and stone beams.  It follow strict formality and traditionalism–“building face the street, ports on the river, cave dwellings in the mountains–everything according to its place and order.” In the 1960s and 1970s, their home was one of the 3 largest in China–today it’s the only one of the three that is open to the public. 

Admissions: 30RMB (about $4.50)

Anyone 60 years or older get 1/2 their tickets (I think?).  People 70 years or older aree free.  Full time students can have 1/2 price and children under 1.4 meters are free. People with disability cards are free, as are servicemen and disabled veterans. 

Opening hours: 8:00-18:30

Transportation
2. Take NO.11 bus in Gongyi city to terminal station (1 Yuan) and then transfer to Kangdian town by minibus (1 Yuan).
 
Website: Here

Gongyi Grottos

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Fabulous! The Gongyi Grottos is a Buddhist temple created around the Northern Wei period of 479-499 AD.  The statues though are as old as 384 – around the 600s AD.  There is the nearby Longmen Grottos in Luoyang, but the Gongyi set is somewhat more well preserved (although not quite so large). 

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To be honest, a lot of the younger people were quickly bored here — but as a historian and cultural student, I found the place truly fascinating.  They have one very elaborate, colored and painted temple area with a tall statue surrounding by the various Buddhist deities on either side.  All set in beautiful painted depictions of myths and stories. 

 

All in all, it was a lovely day full of awesome art, history, and culture. My favorite kind of trip!

#Shaolin Temple’s #Kungfu Monks

21 May

Henan is home to the Shaolin Temple – made famous in Jackie Chan’s films and the center of Chinese Kungfu or “Wushu.”  The monks did a performance for the Henan Tourism Festival!

#TeachingLols ~ That’s a lot of Kids!

6 Apr
😆
So I’m working with my international students (Mongolia, Indonesia, and India) and asked what they did this summer.
One girl goes off because she expected to have a vacation, but got stuck working. She starts listing all of her chores, complaining, and the other students are just nodding along commiserating.
She finally gets to the part where she had to babysit her siblings and cousins. The kids are like “yep, yep” right up until she goes “So, I just want to say that I’ve learned from this summer. I mean, I am totally not going to have more than 5 kids. That’s just more than enough.” Said completely sincerely with no inflection or emphasis at all.  You could see them start to nod again, stop, look at one another and turn in unison to stare at her. One girl goes “FIVE kids” with eyes real big. She goes “Yeah! I mean, I think stopping there is plenty.” They stare some more. I crack up secretly on the inside.
This in the country where 2 kids is only just now allowed universally and is still pretty rare in the cities. 

Ancient Murals Found in Chinese Tomb

18 Mar

“Ancient Tomb Decorated with Vibrant Murals Found in China”

by Owen Jarus via “LiveScience”

Male servant

Continue reading

#Music I Love ~ “Fire of the Heart” OST of “The Journey of Flower” (Hua Qian Gu)

22 Feb

Happy Chinese Lantern Festival!

11 Feb

Happy Lantern Festival!  Tonight is the night (15 days after #ChineseNewYear ) when the Chinese light paper lanterns and send them up to the sky.  

My picture wasn’t very good 😭 I’ll post a better one later. But the #moon sure was pretty! Here in Zhengzhou, we have the highest smog records for the country, so the moon is a rare night.  Today was perfect for the festival! Clear skies, brisk air, and a good wind. 😄 

Wishing you all the best and a great upcoming year! 🍀

#China #travel #festival, #traditions #lifeabroad #international

Xin Nian Kuai Le!

27 Jan

Famed Ringling Bros. circus closing after more than 100 years

16 Jan

**Sadness! I never got to see the circus. This is completely the end of an era and a great loss. Also a sadness for the conservation center-hope they can find an alternative means of funding or what will happen to the poor elephants there.  Great shout-outs to all the great members of the circus group and all the joy they brought audiences for years. You were seriously a part of the American culture!

“Famed Ringling Bros. circus closing after more than 100 years”

by Tony Marco and Azadeh Ansari via “CNN”

Performers ride elephants during a live perfomance in 2007.

The Ringling Bros. circus is closing down after more than 100 years in operation, according to a press release from Feld Entertainment, which has owned the circus for the last 50 years.

“I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® will hold its final performances in May of this year,” CEO Kenneth Feld said.
High operating costs and the decline of ticket sales “made the circus an unsustainable business for the company,” Feld said.
And after “the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop” in ticket sales, Feld said.  Before taking the final bow, the Ringling Bros., will perform 30 shows across the United States between now and May.
For years, the elephants have been in the spotlight and their dance routines featured prominently in the shows. But due to mounting criticism from animal rights groups, the Ringling Bros. phased out the elephant acts entirely.
Off stage, the Ringling Bros. runs an elephant conservation center which sits on 200 acre of rural land in Florida, between Tampa and Orlando. Created in 1995 by Ringling, the facility focuses on the care and study of Asian elephants — an endangered species that it had used in its shows.

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