Qufu, Tai’an trip
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After lunch we all walked a few blocks to the main Confucius temple where we were going to spend the day
In the temple complex there were many other buildings including a large library, and housing areas. One of the housing areas was only for the emperor when he visited the temple. Much of the temple complex had areas that are only for the emperor, like gates that are only opened when the emperor will pass through it. The bridges and walk ways also have 3 or 5 areas sectioned out for the different classes to walk in, the emperor walks in the center while the common people have to walk on the outside edges and high officials walk on the paths between the common people and the emperor. Along the walk ways there are many trees planted. Much like the different gates these trees were planted by different Emperors and Confucius, some of them are more than 2,000 years old and still standing. Although in some cases they are standing with the help of metal props. Along with those trees there are also trees with stories attached to them, such as the tree they say looks like the phoenix (I didn’t see the resemblance) from the story of the dragon married to the phoenix.
After we were done seeing the temple complex we were taken to the place where Confucius’s tomb is
Contrary to what most people would think Confucius was not the first but the second person to be buried there because his son died before he did. After Confucius died six of his students lived beside his tomb for three years out of respect for Confucius and his teachings. One of which was that when a parent dies the children should stay close to the tomb of the parent for three years
After we saw Confucius’s tomb we loaded into the bus again and drove another hour to Tai’an where we were going to have dinner and stay the night. We had dinner at a restaurant where they once again served us way more food then we could possibly finish. It like always was very good though. After dinner we went to the Datangkaiyue Hotel where we stayed the next two nights.
The hotel was very nice. The rooms were clean and comfortable and the hotel provided a very nice breakfast. One thing about the hotel that I found cool was the shower. The wall between the shower and the main part of the room was fog glass so you could see the person in there’s shadow. Now I know that can be awkward but you couldn’t see anything, the shadow wasn’t clear so it wasn’t awkward at all. The beds were nice and I slept very well. After getting ready in the morning I went down with Shaba to get breakfast only to find that the down should have been up as the dining area was on the 7th and top floor of the hotel
Once we arrived at the mountain we parked the bus and walked up to a set steps leading to a bus station. There we got tickets to enter the park area and ride a bus up the mountain to the half way point. As we were waiting for the bus we had a "TC" moment or a “That’s China” moment when a little girl of about 5 years old stopped beside our group dropped her pants and relieved herself right there not even 60 feet from the bathrooms. That was odd for us but since then we have seen it a lot more and become rather use to it (well as use to it as you can get). Shortly after that we loaded our bus and unwittingly endanger our lives. The bus ride up that mountain to the middle gate was the scariest ride I have ever been on. We flew up those curvy steep roads with sharp drop offs on either one side or the other. Going around corners so sharp they needed mirrors to see oncoming traffic at speeds fast enough to throw people out of their seats. Finally we made it to the gate though and we were all still alive, the next step of our journey… climbing 2,600 steps to the top of the mountain.
2,600 steps sounds like a lot on its own but add in the fact that they are ancient steep, uneven, lose steps and they become a lot worse. Then add in the distances of path that at level or semi-level and you get an unknown distance to the top which we walked. The walk was made worse by the weather which was very cold and foggy
The hike was worth all the trouble though just because of the amazing view that it offered. The steps followed along the side of a stream and crossed over it at times. There were waterfalls beside the path and greenness as far as the eye could see. From the top you could look out over mountains covered in trees and going down you looked out over the valley where the city of Tai’an lay. Along the sides of the path or sometimes spread out on blankets in the middle of it were trinkets you could buy. Little handmade bird shaped whistles, bracelets, carved stones, and even little Buddha’s were for sell. I was able to get a few little presents for people back home. Once we made it down the mountain we loaded back onto the death bus and risked our lives once again to make it back to our van.
After the mountain we had dinner before going to see a puppet show. The show is done with shadow puppets that are made from thin animal skin. They are draw on and painted then cutout and attached to sticks. The puppet master then stands behind a light and a sheet of white material moving the puppets to illustrate a story being told. The puppet show is hard to explain so I will attach a video of it.
The show was the last thing we did on the trip. The next morning we loaded back up into the van and headed back to the university.