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The Nanfeng Ancient Kiln Fires & Foshan City

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, Mate they are bloody everywhere, growing like vines! Miniature orange trees or maybe they are baby orange trees...whatever! The streets have become literally covered with them. In fact whilst walking around I have found several small streets that have been cut off from traffic so they can set up these 'Orange Tree' markets. Strangely as crowded with trees as they already are trucks still come along and unload more of them. While walking down these streets you will see some of the strangest things. Here you will find families all holding up a tree each and comparing them. They all look the same to me! What they are comparing? I just can't to figure out! I could ask Luo Wei or Google it I guess but I am determined to figure it out for myself. I just know it is a Spring Festival thing as this happens every year. As they compared them I would get closer and watch them. One family even began asking me which tree was the best one to buy. I tried to explain that out of the six hundred and forty three billion trees that are on this side of the street alone, the five they were holding up looked identical to all of them. They all seem to have the same amount of oranges and are all shaped the same. So no matter how hard I try I just can't figure it out. But what I do love about these 'Orange Tree Markets' is watching how they get the trees out. Today I was in Foshan City and Foshan is like a billion times smaller than Guangzhou City and obviously has a billion times less money, so much so that I would feel much more comfortable living in Foshan than Guangzhou. All around me I had families with their three wheeler bikes that had one or several miniature orange trees in the back tray. Or there would be Grandpa peddling and Grandma in the back tray holding on tightly to their new Spring Festival purchase. I've been here four years but I will never tire of watching the old family bike going past me. Especially when its Grandma peddling and Grandpa kicking back in the back with grandchild. Foshan City is simple to get to. Buses begin before seven in the morning and run every fifteen minutes until eleven in the evening. That is a hell of a lot of buses for a city that is only twenty kilometers away. It takes about forty to fifty minutes to get there and once there the city is so small that you will have no need for a taxi or even a bus adventure. The LP states that Foshan is one of China's oldest Pottery Towns that dates way back to the Han Dynasty (BC221 to 207). It has been known throughout its history for its ceramics, metal working and carving. Foshan is also famous for its Ancestral Temple (Zu Miao) and it got its name Foshan (Buddha Hill) from three statues of the Lord Gautama that once stood on a nearby hill during the Tang Dynasty (AD618 to 907) when Foshan used to be an important Religious centre. <u>Zu Miao Ancestral Temple</u></b> Costing only twenty Yuan to enter and can be found on busy Zumiao Lu just down from the small bus station and round about. When you leave the bus station don't hold the LP map with the bus station (No 9) to your chest. Turn the book the other way and you'll find that you need not to cross the road in front of you but simply turn to your left and turn the corner to where you will see a Mc Donald's sign. The temple can be found on the opposite side of the road about one hundred meters down. This Ancestral Temple complex was founded during the late 11th Century. Happily for me it is also an awesome example of Chinese architecture from the south. The temple is dedicated to Beidi, Taoist God of the north, commonly represented by a turtle and a snake. You.ll see a statue of Beidi in the main hall, along with some extraordinary caved wooden screens. Some of the buildings within the complex have the 'wok handle style' roofs which can be found all around this area. You will also find ridge tiles covered with delightful ceramic figures taken from folklore. The temple complex is part of the Foshan Museum. So you can also find many collections, including a display on Cantonese opera and martial arts. I spent several hours here slowly walking around and resting while watching as the colourful Spring Festival decorations were being put up all over the grounds. I also stood with many other visitors and was amazed by many of the martial arts shows that are put on by people as young as what looked to be around ten. <u>Renshou</u></b><u> Temple</u></b><u></u></b> Free entry and found only a few minutes walk along Zumiao Lu can be found the Renshou Buddhist Temple which was once a Ming Monastry. As you will find upon entry is also remains an active place of worship today. Inside you'll find a beautiful seven story pagoda which was built in 1656 along with the Foshan Folk Arts Studio which is a house for famous paper cuts. I love Buddhist Temples and I was so happy when I arrived because the whole shebang was going on inside. I sat on the stairs watching, listening and feeling very much at peace with life under a huge blue sky. I'm now at a confused cross road. Being back in the south makes me want to 'come home' so to say but Lue Wei is in the north and we do get do see each other so much more than when I was living in Fujian Province. Oh how tough are the questions that life throws at me huh? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha....just kidding! Back to Buddhist temples. I love the small ones like this that don't have the annoying Buddhist Chants playing over six billion speaks throughout the complex. It goes on and on and on and then they expect you to buy the cd and take it home to listen to. Its not that the chants are actually annoying but all the bigger Buddhist Temples play the same ones over and over again. It's kind of like tuning into Triple M or Fox FM back home! <u>Liangs</u></b><u> Gardens</u></b><u></u></b> At the end of Zumiao Lu you will come to Qinren Lu, take a right here and then a quick left into Songfeng Lu and a short way down you will find an archway on your left. Beyond are the Liangs' Gardens. Entry is still ten Yuan and they are definatly worth the entry fee. When ever I enter one of these Residencies/Gardens I always find myself comparing them to those I visited in Yangzhou or Suzhou in Jiangsu Province. They were built and paid for by those who found extreme wealth as salt merchants or painters during the Qing Dynasties. Foshan Liangs' Gardens are one of four ancient gardens with Lingnan style and were established from the Jiaqing period of the Qing dynasty (AD1795 to 1850). This garden was built by Liang Airu and his three nephews who were all local calligraphers and painters. At its golden period the garden covered 130,000 square meters and included several buildings such as the Stars Hall, Fenjiang Straw Hut, Twenve Stones Studio and Han Xiang House. Due to many years of negligence the gardens lost some of their elegance and even some of its buildings but thanks to the city all/most have been returned to their original splendour. Beyond the ticket box you will find elegantly styled gardens, pavilions, galleries, tranquil lotus ponds, bridges and shady willow lined pathways where once calligraphers, painters, writers and revolutionary tycoons used to seek peace and tranquility. Donghua Lane (Donghua Li) where once homes with their distinctive southern style roofs and doorways looked like they had hardly been touched or changed since the Qing Dynasty sadly have now been demolished on the inside. Soon this area (found between Renmin Lu and Jianxin Lu) will be yet another New Ancient Town. Most tourist towns build a New Ancient Town from the ground up. It looks ancient but its all actually brand new. In a year or so this area will be the real deal and having gone from the 'real thing' an entire city area that had been untouched since the Qing Dynasty it will now still look that way but once you enter the residence you will have moved into a new time period, that of now and being in the now and the area you will find yourself walking past many Pick and Point eateries. These eateries can be found all over China but what makes these ones so special is their seating. I kid you not, in one tiny little room as small as Carey Bradshaw's shoe cupboard can be found no less than fifteen people all rubbing more than elbows while eating. I stood outside waiting for someone to leave as I thought the shoe cupboard was more then full but I soon found myself being beaten and squished like a piece of putty and I was nestled or more like squashed between many people and clicking chopsticks with them all. This more than made up for my disappointment at having been many months too late to experience the tranquility of Donghua Lane. The staff were also more than amused at my own amusement of the entire experience. So if you for some reason find yourself in Foshan City besides trying the pick and point soup places you must also take a relaxing walk along the Fen River. Here you will rub elbows with the locals, eat at little eateries, walk several of the cities river bridges and make the decision on whether to make the journey to the neighbouring pottery of Shiwan. I did but I was sadly much too late. I took a motor bike taxi what was supposed to be two kilometers but it felt like about twenty. I have a huge fear of horses and motor bikes both of which seem to have a mind of their own. I've been thrown off a horse and several motorbikes in the past and I guess the fact that I have no control of any of them has created that fear. During last summers Beers N Noodles Adventure I actually willingly got back on a horse in Inner Mongolia and spent the day so tense that I was sore for days afterwards, but it was more than worth it as I got the see Luo Wei in extreme happiness. She had total trust of her horse and spent the day giggling and laughing while cantering here and there. I on the other hand sat upon my horse in extreme fear of the many bees that were buzzing around its body. When on the back of a motor bike I totally freeze and remember the ride I had several days prior to coming to China back in 2005. Nothing happened but the fact that we were doing well over 200kms down a country road that could have had anything scattered on the road was a little too much for me. Add to that when I was living in Tianyang Town in Guangxi Province after a drunken afternoon in a small village being taken home along a busy highway the driver lost control after hitting a pot hole and we both were thrown onto the on coming traffic lane filled with huge trucks. Not for me, not for me, not for me! Back to Shiwan City. The fact that it houses the Ancient Nanfeng Kiln that has two ancient Dragon Kilns that are supposed to be over thirty meters long was too inviting for me. So on the back of a motor bike I got. Sadly when I arrived the Pottery City was closed. I did though take a walk around the lake and figured that the entire place had become more of a tourist trap than anything. But those of you who have read my blog would also know I love Tourist Traps just as much as I love to find the out of the way villages. So for those of you who love pottery and the fact that Shiwan is one of China's more important ceramics production towns then this would be a highlight of your stay in Guangzhou. For those of you who aren't pottery fans, remember this fact. The Nanfeng Ancient Kilns fires have never been extinguished since they day they were lit during the early Ming Dynasty (AD1368 to 1644). That's a flame that's been alive for many hundred years longer than white man has been living in Australia, Canada and the good old US of A. Think about that the next time you make a coffee and light a cigarette! China! Unfreaking believable mate! Beers N Noodles toya.....shane _____________________________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by one of the most awesome bands ever, Primal Scream! The question is not when is he going to stop, but who's going to stop him! The album was 'Kowalski' _____________________________________________________________________

Foshan City Adventure

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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