Tag Archives: Henan

Good Catch!

7 Sep


Photograph Award

10 Dec

Beyond Yonder Hills

The Photo “Beyond Yonder Hills” was selected by Judges as a favorite, making it a winner of the Staff Winter Selection 2015!

48 Hours in Kaifeng ~ City of Chrysanthemums

29 Nov


Where? ~ Kaifeng, Henan, China

How? ~ Fly into Zhengzhou (an international airport). Grab the train or a bus to Kaifeng (takes about 2 Hours)

Recommendation ~ Don’t go later in the winter than November 20th or so.  All the cultural sites will be winding up their activities and events, so you’ll miss all the fun things to do there.  For example, we caught the last showing of the Millennium Park War (a major thing to see).

Cost ~ Please note that the costs below are what was reported to me. To be honest, costs vary from week to week here. So it could be as much as 20CNY higher or lower (about $4) for each place, or it could be what I told you. It really depends on the day.



The Ancient City of Kaifeng 开封 (kI fuhng) lies in the heart of central Henan Province, China and trails just south of the Yellow River.  The local Henan people speak of Kaifeng, the capital of six different dynasties and a town filled with beautiful flowers and famous dishes, with the greatest respect and awe.  


“Open and Shut”

Dating to 364BC, a small city of canals and waterways linked to the Yellow River was created. This little town would eventually morph into a thriving business and merchant city, now home to almost 6 million people. The city would be destroyed, abandoned, and re-built many times in the following centuries, and remnants of these cultures can still be seen at the local cultural sites and the city museum.  In fact, for about 114 years, Kaifeng was the largest city in the world! The tour guide compared it to Tokyo, New York, and Paris in its time.

The characters in the name Kaifeng represent the phrase “Open and Shut.”  Officially, this name represents the fact that Kaifeng represents open and shutting doors.  Kaifeng has always been open to new ideas, new theories ~ a center of business, technology, and politics.  But it is also closed, remaining true to the traditional values and beliefs of its ancient inhabitants.  This is why when you visit, you can find both Ancient villas that appear unmarked by the intervening centuries and modern Shopping.

Secretly, our guide says “Open and Shut” is the name because if you open up the windows in Kaifeng, you’re blown away by the winds.  Perhaps true, it was seriously freezing and the wind could have cut through a sheet of glass.   Continue reading


Blue Skies Smiling At Me

4 Aug



Rising Through the Mist

23 Jul



Stepping Up

21 Jul



Festival Carver

5 May


Stone-Faced Buddha ~ Longmen Grottoes

22 Apr


Longmen Grottoes

Took a little trip to the Luòyáng , China this past weekend as part of a culture trip hosted by the University! 

Pronounced something like “loi yahng,” this beautiful home to the National Peony Festival (I’ll add an update on the Peony Garden later) is one of the “cradles of Chinese Civiliazation” and one of the ancient capital cities of China (Henan has 2 of them! – Luoyang and Xinzheng).  The city itself is amazingly clean and open, the streets are unlittered and it’s pretty modern.  


The best part of my visit by far though was the Longmen Grottoes and the Peony Garden.  This week was part of the 2 week festival they have each year for the Peony festival, so people were everywhere despite the rain.  


The Longmen Grottoes themselves are absolutely mind-blowing ~ an amazing feat of human design and capability. To imagine that such intricate  design, specific carvings, and gentle touch art were feasible so many centuries ago is one of those things that always stops me in my tracks. I know a lot of people aren’t as interested as I in history and stone statues (several of the teachers I was with were fairly denigrating about spending so much time in a “Stone Garden). But to me, standing on the same ground, touching the rocks they touched, seeing the art they created, glimpsing pieces of hearts long past. It’s simply miraculous.


The Grottoes are home to thousands and thousands of carvings on the stone faces of the mountain cliffs. Most are of Buddha or his followers, some are pagodas, buildings, and other designs. The varying stone colors used to frame and decorate the statues, each one different from the rest.  Carved over a period of centuries (5th – 15th Century AD), each set was designed by a different artist, many from completely different times. You can trace the changes, both in religion and philosophy (skinny to fat Buddhas for example) and in art styles.


One of the other reasons the grottoes is so stunning is the River Yi (pron. ee) that runs alongside the valley in front of the rocks. The river is clean and beautiful, sweeping along a lovely walkway as antique-style dragon boats float up and down.  Stone bridges line the view, criss-crossing over to the other side that offers views of antique buildings lining the mountain paths.


 It’s just a beautiful way to spend a day


Anti-Smog Truck!

7 Jan

Living in Henan, we are kind of in the middle of some of China’s worst pollution. If you look at the Air Pollution map, you’ll see that Zhengzhou tends to run parallel with Shanghai and Beijing for some of the most hazardous conditions for people’s health. This is due in no small part to the fact that many foreign companies have built factories in Zhengzhou, such as Apple (yes, we saw the iPhone 6 first! 😛 ) Having watched skyscrapers literally disappear feet in front of me on the really bad days, I can say that it is definitely horrible to try to be outside in.  The city looks like a ghost time about half the time because of the smoky look and the abandoned cast that it gives to all the buildings.  

So, I’m pretty excited about this news!  Some people said that our numbers actually went down so maybe this will really work 🙂 That would be completely awesome! **DB

Anti-smog Carrier Appears in Zhengzhou

by Sun Wanming via “CRI

A truck loaded with a massive aerosol gun is seen ejecting water spray at Zhengzhou, capital city of central China’s Henan province on January 5, 2015. An operator says the carrier with a capacity of 10 tons of water can eject spray particles for 75 minutes. He added that the water spray can effectively relieve the haze weather in the area by dissolving the pollution particles and dust in the air. The anti-smog tool is said to cost 800,000 yuan. [Photo: tencent.com] . . .


Happy Winter Solstice!

22 Dec

In China, the shortest day of the year is a pretty big holiday full of yummy food, friends hanging out together, and lots of memories.

 It is especially important this year to my seniors.  College in China is arranged a little bit differently than in America, or at least the program here at SIAS is.  The seniors won’t really be returning next semester; they will spend their final time at college working on a major thesis and getting practical experience in the big wide world.  While many of them have decided to stay in the area, life is changing for them right now.  No more classes all together, no more busy dorms and exciting group activities await them.  Mostly its a time for timid dreams and future worries; a time when they are reminded of just how precious this 3.5 year period, and these wonderful friends, have actually been.  

For the past seven semesters, each set of students have lived together (dorms are divided by major and year), studied together (as freshman, they are divided by major and exam-score, so that each group of students has every class with the same students for the rest of the school career), played together (KTV, KTV, KTV!!!), and grown together.  They encourage and prod and love each other to death for this brief, but much beloved time. Then, as it does for all college students, it ends as quickly as it began.  Suddenly, they find themselves drifting in different directions, with this one headed to Shanghai, that one to Australia, and these two King’s College in England.  They are realizing just how scary that future is and trying to cling to as much of their time together as they can.

Thus, Winter Solstice, the last holiday before the semester ends in China, is an especially important one for my students this year.  According to tradition, people must get together and eat dumplings on the Winter Solstice; otherwise their ears will freeze in the coming winter and they will both fall off.  Supposedly, eating ear-shaped dumplings will help you keep your ears warm in the future. It’s a time for friends, fun, and storing up great memories for the present. A time to love and remember that you are loved.  

So, in honor of my much beloved, parting students; they would like me to wish you the same spirit of the season. We would like to wish you all a very happy Winter Solstice. May today’s dumplings be your best dumplings! May all of your friends be present! and May all of your Memories be Cherished.


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