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The Tian Chen Valley N Broken Bowl River Adventure

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to you What an unexpectedly awesome day today was. After a few nights on the Coronas the day began much too early for me. So I took on my Grandpa's advice and decided that seen as though I was awake I would accept the fact and enjoy the day. So why was the day so awesome? Several weeks ago I headed to the ancient town of Heping with my friend Mary. In my Travelpod entry for that day I mentioned the reason that it had taken me so long to get there was that the school had said on several occasions that they would organise a day adventure for us. It never occurred so off I went off I went with a beautiful girl instead. Well, at the end of last week we got news that the adventure had been organised and we were heading off to the ancient town of Heping. Two weeks late but better now than never. Actually the adventure was organised as Alexa's friend Sonya flew in from England last week. Friday night we had a huge dinner with the school to welcome her and we then continued on to Ting Tings Bar for a Corona night. Stupidly after a huge dinner and many beers we decided to allow Daniel to show us how to play the 'drinking' card game 'Fark Off'. Not really the best decision but hey, it was a heap of fun at the time. I have no idea what time it was but sometime in the early hours we introduced 'The Great Northern Noodles' to Sonya and then went home to set the skies ablaze in beautiful colour by letting off fire works and chasing each other around the school playground with huge sparklers. It's been a long long time since I've done something like that without adult supervision. China mate, ya gotta love it! Huh? I am an adult? Oops, sorry it totally slipped my mind. We were joined by Carol, one of the Chinese English Teachers from Daniels school and her daughter. We all hired a mini-van and a driver for the day. It didn't matter that I had been to Heping before, it is such a beautiful little town and I was more than happy to visit again. On the drive to Tian Chen Valley we found out that the morning would actually be spent on bamboo rafts slowly drifting down what is known as the 'Broken Bowl' River that runs through beautiful Tian Chen Valley. It's a pity I can't write much about Tian Chen Valley or the Broken Bowl River as I've Googled both and have come up with zilch information. What I can write though is that they are both exceptionally beautiful. After a nearing two hours drive through beautiful broccoli coloured mountains we arrived at the Broken Bowl River. The bamboo rafts come with four little bamboo seats and two Pole People to help stop us both crashing into the huge rocky river sides and running aground in the more shallow areas. We spent a wonderful few hours slowly drifting down the river which snakes its way through the lush green valley. Everything was so alive and so full of colour due to the crazy amount of rain we've had over the past few months. When we weren't passing through huge rocky cliffs filled with strange crater like holes we were totally enclosed by a thick blanket of green. It was so relaxing on the mind, so peaceful...so not Gansu! Sadly I was on the raft without the Chinese English Teacher I never got to ask any of the questions I wanted to ask about the rivers name and the customs that allowed its creation. Daniel was yelling some jibberish from his raft but we had no idea what he was saying as we couldn't hear him most of the time. I have added only one picture of what the rivers sides look like and believe me when I say it, the entire time we were making our way down river, not only the sides of the river were the same but the river bed also. There must me hundreds of thousands of broken pottery bowls scattered all along and throughout the river. Daniel and Alexa did the same journey when they first arrived in Shaowu and when they told me about the scattered broken bowls I pictured some here and there in little piles but nothing prepared me for what it was actually like. Sadly I have no idea who broke them and why or even when for that matter. I don't even know if it still continues to happen to this day? Anyhow, an answer will arrive soon enough I'm sure. Our rafting river journey came to an end at the foot of a high cliff. After saying good bye to our pole peoples we climbed the stairs that zig zagged us to the top. At the top we found two skeletons enclosed in glass cases. The story is as it is all over the world. A rich girl fell in love with a poor man. The rich girls parents wouldn't allow them to marry so they both ran away and committed suicide. Their bodies were found a few centuries later and enclosed in glass to become a tourist attraction. Sad story but pretty awesome when you're there! We then spent the next hour or so walking through the valley. The walk took us beneath and between huge boulders where the gap in some parts was so thin that it had actually made some 'large' peoples return the way they had came. True story from six months prior. The scenery was stunning with mountain sides coved with trees all shades of green creating the picture of one hell of a huge broccoli plant. We ascended and descended the mountain by way of steel stairs, some safe others...well...safe enough I guess.

The following was sent to me by my buddy in Singapore. The world thanks you Simon, you're a champion! (Saturday, 21st April 2007) About 350 years ago, when the Ming Dynasty was being replaced by Qing (the Manchus from the Northeast China) a master craftsman of the Royal Kiln in Jingdezhen, decided not to serve the incoming new master, quit his post and came to this remote village of Fujian. The village is now known as Bowl Factory Village (wan chang cun) situated at the jetty of the Tian Chen Gorge-Jin Xi River bamboo rafting. The village's kaolin earth (material to make porcelain) is of high quality and the master continued his practice to produce excellent works. Soon he got worried and stopped making high quality porcelain (when his works were popular among the people). He feared that the Qing Royal police would come knocking one day. He then started making the lowly kitchen bowls and thus the name of the village. There's no legend about the riverbed broken bowls, The only logical explanation is: I suspect that his bowls were so popular that people came and bought lots of them. Transport was by the Jin Xi River bamboo rafts, since the village was not easily accessed by land. Over these 350 years , accidents happened and thus the riverbed broken bowls increased day by day. Midday found us back in our hired minivan heading towards the ancient town of Heping. When we arrived we were met by our Chinese English Teachers brother in law who treated us to lunch and sadly for the second time in several months busted our balls for over an hour trying force alcohol down our throats. Don't get me wrong, the lunch was beautiful and we all had a great time but when someone continually tries to force more beer down your throat it gets a little painful. Especially when there were four people explaining that they had had enough beer over the previous two nights and really didn't want to drink anymore today....over and over and over again. He then proceeded to ring two of his friends who arrived soon after to join him trying to pour more beer into our glasses and bowls. This my friends is the side to some Chinese males that I really can't bare to be around! Not all of course but some. Most of the time it depends on their job and where they are in the hierarchy of life here in China. Enough said, the four of us said our good byes and not long after we were joined by our friend. We all happily entered the ancient streets of Heping where we wound our way around taking photos for an hour or so. It really is such a wonderful place to visit. One of my favourite things, besides the buildings and the one million year old people walking around with big smiles, was the bright green moss that covers the lower parts of the building walls and some of the little stone alley ways. There is something about moss that I love so much. It can add character to almost anything. Look what it's done to my brain! Tee hee. Beers N Noodles to ya...shane The soundtrack to this entry was: The band 'Endorphin' and their awesome album 'Skin'

Tian Cheng Valley & Heping Town

Tian Cheng Valley & Heping Town


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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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