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Sandy Giggles, The Heavenly Queen & Treaty Ports

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Arrrgh, the sea matees! Remember the first time you saw the sea? I don't as my family has been swimming and boating for as long as I remember! Not always at the sea but we've shared our time between rivers and the sea/ocean. Big boats, small boats, fast boats, slow boats, speed boats, row boats, house boats, sail boats.....You name it my family has had more than their fair share of boats of all shapes, sizes and speeds.

I do believe though that once you have a love of the beach, it doesn't matter how often you visit it, each time you see it you are filled with joy and wonder. It's so opposite your work place where you spend most of your life. I know I could spend just as much time at the beach and yet I could sit there hour after hour just staring or sitting with my eyes closed and listening to the waves crash and never get bored but at work you are always busy yet you get so bored.

For those like me that can't remember the first time you visited the beach then think about the first time your friend or a member of your family took their young child to the beach for the first time. Remember the surprise look on their face when they first saw that huge expanse of water and the joy in their eyes along with the giggles that flowed freely from deep inside them as they played at the waters edge for the first time.

That's exactly what I got to watch Lou Wei live through when I took her to the sea side for her first time.

She splashed about and watched in surprise as the waves began burying her feet, she chased after sea weed and threw it into the air, she joined in with children searching for jelly fish to squish and wonder at and then trade with other kids for sea weed or shells and then as we sat waiting for our feet to dry so we could dust off the sand she then smelt the salty air for the first time and all this was at Yantai's little pebbly/sandy Number One Beach after dark.

She then questioned what the floating ball things were in straight lines out in the water.

I then introduced to her the wonders of the Shark Net and how they stop people from becoming Human Fillets, People Chops and Man Flake for the hungry sharks that are swimming around somewhere out there beyond the net. They, like us are at the top of the food chain. We on land and they beneath the surface of the big blue yet things are hardly even between us as we simply won't allow that.

Like everything else on planet earth we have almost made the shark extinct.

Yet we continue to do so without thought or care of what will happen to the world beneath the surface of the big blue once those at the top of the food chain have either been totally eaten or have dwindled down to so few that they barely mater anymore. If you are wondering what in the world I am on about just think of what would happen to this planet if humans were to simply vanish. Besides everything being better and more just, think of how unbalanced and confused things would be and for how long. Now think of what will happen when we finally batter up and flake the last shark. The big blue would be turned upside down and confusion would rein for an unknown amount of time.

Yet we continue to fish and fish and fish by the huge boat load day after day after day. Allowing no balance, just taking it all for us....Luo Wei had never thought of the world beneath before.

Anyhow, to the blog.....besides visiting China's most popular province and being treated as a cash cow by greedy Shandong people, the main reason for coming here with Luo Wei was to take her to the east coast where she could visit the beach for the first time in her life so after Ji'nan she decided it was time for us to head to the coast. Well, we had no choice as Luo Wei's school had called her and requested that she return as soon as possible to Xi'an to help promote the school for new students.

So our time has now been cut drastically short.

After a huge lunch in Ji'nan we headed to the long distance bus station and grabbed the next bus to Yantai, a port city on the northern coast of the Shandong Peninsula that started life first as a small fishing village and then as a defense outpost where wolf dung fires were lit on the headland during the Ming Dynasty to warn fishing fleets of approaching pirates. Its life ended in the late 19th century when the Qing government was defeated during the opium wars and the city was handed over to the British who established it as a treaty port.

Now Yantai has a mixture of foreign and Chinese architecture and several popular pebbly beaches. We can also not forget the growing bar scene and a hell of a lot of seafood restaurants.

We were then re-introduced to the greedy Shandong people.

Please remember that when I use the term 'greedy' it is not meant to describe the normal Shandong People as I have found them to be just as beautiful as all the Chinese people I have met on my travels. When I use the term 'greedy' I am using it only to describe those involved in the tourist industry and the common road side stall located around the common tourist site. I have found there is a big difference between those in the north and the south of China.

This of course is common in all countries around the world.

The journey from Ji'nan took just over six hours and when we arrived we joined the many whom were either just beginning or midway through the Hotel Shuffle. We were all searching for the same thing, a normal priced hotel room yet none of us had any luck what so ever. At first we were told the high prices were due to a CCTV music festival but we soon learned that the music festival was not for another several weeks. We then caught them on this at each new hotel we visited and we were then simply told, its summer and you either pay or you leave.

The same went for the water we purchased along with the food.

Even our cab driver was astonished at what was happening as being a local and wanting us to love his city he even went back into the hotels we had left and asked them what the hell they thought they were doing to the tourists who were visiting his city. They simply sent him out the door just like they did us. He was so apologetic and his frustration was more than genuine. In the end we returned to the first hotel we priced and paid twice that it should have been. Being one not to allow money to spoil things I paid for several nights and did my best to put it behind me allowing the thoughts of getting Luo Wei at the beach to help do so.

As you have read above, that I did! That was last night and today was a new day. The hotel money was already paid and we could begin afresh!

Today I decided to do my best to show Luo Wei the coast line and the LP states that Bus Number 17 takes you to both beaches and from looking at the bus schedules at the bust stops Bus 17 also seems to have the longest route. So what better to do that simply ride it to its end and then return and stop where ever we saw fit. On the return journey we departed the bus at the end of Beach Number 2 where went for a walk along the short pier and took photos with the Moon Man. We then decided on a walk along the board walk but both of us were amazed that they wanted 40 Yuan to walk it. We decided against it and then let our stomachs do the talking and headed over for some sea food bbq. Once again we raised our hands in defeat as they wanted 6 Yuan for one seafood bbq stick when we both knew it was 5 Yuan for five seafood bbq sticks.

Sadly we departed Beach number two and bused it back to Beach Number 1. Freakin greedy Shandong people!

<u>Yantai Catholic Church</u>

Here I decided to head up to Dama Lu to visit the small Catholic Church that was built during the treaty port days and happily for me it was actually open as it was closed when we went past several hours prior. Here in China it is actually unbelievably hard to find a church that is open to the public outside of worshipping hours. For those that know me, I am a huge fan of temples and churches yet I am not a religious man what so ever. I simply put my faith in the stars as when a star explodes it creates star dust and star dust is what has created everything in our solar system, from the planets to everything that is on each of those planets.

Look around you and everything you see is actually created from the elements of star dust.

I've had many people throw the same question at me time after time and that's the fundamental question of 'who created those stars?' Well when I look at history and watch the news that's the same question that all the wars are over, trying to answer this simple question. It's a question that there is no answer to and there never will be an answer to because each religion has their own god who created this and that. All of that is, is but a thought and it can never and will never be a reality as it is but a belief and a question of faith. When I haphazardly came across 'star dust' life became so much simpler, we are born of star dust, we are living star dust and when we die we go back to being star dust just as we always have done and will continue to do so. Wars are continually fought over which god is The One, but no one will ever truly know if god exists.

God and faith are both simply a doctrine and a belief yet star dust is something that is real and unquestionable but don't get me wrong I do respect those that follow a religion as each person is entitled to their own beliefs.

So yes, I do have a fascination of what lays beyond the Stars but it is a fascination that was born from the absolute stupidity of those who go beyond simple faith. It goes to the extremists of all religions who are willing to kill and die for an unobtainable answer yet somehow they have come to the conclusion that their belief, that their God is The God.

It all confuses me. Religion, it really is and always has been one huge confused mess.

But, then again, the above is through my eyes and I know most of the worlds population don't have a problem with religion at all. Maybe they are the lucky ones who can simply concentrate on one religion and do so without question or proof as their faith is enough to get them through life without comparing their god to another. I can't do such a thing as there is so much dogma floating about the place, so many religions, so many unanswerable questions attached to them all.

They all make my head spin so fast. But at the same time I do find it all so fascinating! SO YANTAI, what does Yantai have to offer me and anyone else who decides to visit?

Yantai is a small sleepy port city that to this day still retains some of its colonial charm. It is located on the northeast coast of the Shandong Province, is bordered by both the Yellow Sea and the Bohai Sea and lies across from South Korea and Japan. The city is fairly small but there is a bustling development zone and large container and shipbuilding ports. There are supposedly a number of western expats working the on the docks and teaching English but the only westerner I saw during my entire visit was the funny looking feller staring back at me in the mirror. The seaside is home to a beautiful promenade for walking, exercising and relaxing and if you are the shopping type, its markets have almost everything you can imagine, including Chinese cultural knickknacks, calligraphy sets, silk paintings, tea houses and tea shops, sculpture and statue shops, as well as many computer outlet markets, clothing shops, furniture stores and department stores.

In 2004, Yantai was recognized as the most "Charming City in China."

It was visited three times by the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, Qinshihuang (259BC-210BC). During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) a fire platform, called Langyantai Platform, was constructed on the northernmost city hill, as a means of defense against pirates. General Qi Jiguang of the Ming Dynasty fought against pirates using this platform, and developed Penglai Water City, a navy base which remains well-preserved to this day. Although Yantai is located in North China, monsoons regulate the climate, keeping it warm and humid. The average annual temperature is 11.8C (53.24F). Fruits and vegetables are plentiful and the long coastline with over sixty islands make the area ideal for any seafood connoisseur. Sea-cucumbers, abalones, scallops, crabs and prawns are all easily available. Yantai's earth is rich with resources as well and its gold reserve, in particular has the highest output in China.

Adding to the draw of Yantai's natural resources, the picturesque scenery in and around the city has earned the area acclaim by the United Nations, which lists it as one of the most inhabitable places in the world. Undulating hills rise above the area's many rivers and are framed by beaches and neighboring islands. Yantai's local food is well-known around China as local cooks take advantage of area's abundant sea food, vegetables and fruits, creatively crafting tasty dishes. Yantai is also the cradle of wine production in China, housing the largest wine production base in Asia. With its high quality and more than none hundred years of history, Zhangyu Red Wine from Yantai is a widely known brand in China and abroad.

In 1987, the International Grape and Wine Bureau dubbed Yantai the "International Grape and Wine City."

Today, with the city's rapid economic development, facilities in Yantai are improving, and transportation is becoming more and more convenient. Ships, trains, planes, buses and taxis have modernised daily life and continue to attract more and more tourists. The city now has several Mc Donald's and KFC eaters along with a Walmart. It's shopping district is huge and it would be very difficult to think of something you couldn't find.

After visiting the church I Luo Wei back at the beach and we scampered around for awhile eating bbq seafood sticks before deciding on what we were to do next. Luo Wei decided on a walk around town window shopping and then slowly heading back to the hotel. I decided to visit Yantai Hill and the city Museum which I believe took twenty two years to craft and send by sea from Fujian Province to here in Yantai in Shandong Province. Now that is something that is worth getting excited over but as we were standing beneath Yantai Hill I thought it best to begin my afternoon there.

<u>Yantai</u><u> Hill Park</u><u> (Next to Beach Number 1)</u>

Mount Yantai, located in the north of Yantai near Beach Number One and the Golden Gulf Hotel. It is 42.5 meters high, has an area of 45 hectares and is surrounded by sea. In the Ming Dynasty in order to defend the city against Japanese pirates, a beacon tower was constructed where the light house now stands today. In 1862 Yantai was opened to the world and sixteen countries setup their consulates, churches and a post office. All this now stands as a beautiful leafy green museum of well-preserved Western treaty port architecture that includes the former American Consulate, the Yantai Union Church (1875), the former British Consulate, the former Danish Consulate, the former Japanese Consulate (fully equipped with a torture inquisition room - or so I've read) and at the very top of the hill at the foot of the light house sits the beautiful Dragon King Temple

The park costs 30 Yuan to enter and is well worth a few hours of your afternoon. Take Bus Number 17 from the new train station.

<u>Palace of Heavenly Queen - The Mazu Museum</u>

Situated on busy Nan Dajie is the unmistakable Mazu Museum that is located within a fabulous guildhall built by merchants and sailors of Fujian Province as a place of worship to Tianhou (Heaven Queen), Goddess of the Sea and protector of sailors. The museum coast 10 Yuan to enter and though it is small only a fool would rush through and spend less than an hour here. Remember that this temple took twenty two years to carve, ship and construct. You really must spent most of your time studying the amazing carvings you can find all around the place.

Along the great stretch of the east coast of China you will find many palaces of the Heavenly Queen. Among those there are two palaces assessed by the Chinese Government as National Key Cultural Relics, one is located in Quanzhou in Fujian Province and the other is here in Yantai. The Palace of Heavenly Queen in Yantai (also known as the Fujian Guildhall) began construction in 1884 (the 10th year of Guangxu Period in Qing Dynasty) and was financed by the shipping traders and the merchants from Fujian Province. The design, the preparation of materials and the pre-cast structural components were all created in Quanzhou in Fujian Province. Everything was then shipped to Yantai for assembly. The palace was finally completed in 1906, with a construction period of twenty two years. It was and still is the only great Palace of Heavenly Queen north of Fujian Province.

The Heavenly Queen refers to Mazu, who was also named Lin Mo.

She was born in Putian in Fujian Province on March 23rd in the year 960 (Lunar Calendar), first year of the Jianlong Period in the Northern Song Dynasty. She remained unmarried and devoted her life curing and patients. Unfortunately, Mazu died on September 9th in the year 987 (the 4th year of the Yongxi Period in the Northern Song Dynasty), at the age of twenty eight. After her death, folk tales began to spread that Mazu often made her appearance and that her power could be felt on the sea to bless the safety of the passing vessels. Therefore Mazu was conferred with the title of Heavenly Queen by the Imperial Government of the time and many temples were built along coastal regions to offer sacrifices to her. The moving legends of Mazu were handed down for generations prior to the Mazu Culture taking shape.

The Mazu Culture is blessed with the core content of love and mercy for humanity. This has enabled it to last and circulate for centuries among the Chinese people in coastal regions which also include Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well other countries in the world.

Beers N Noodles toya.....shane

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The soundtrack to this entry was by The Doors. The album was the awesome 'In Concert' ____________________________________________________________

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum


Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum


Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum


Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum


Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum


Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

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Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum


Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum


Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum


Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum


Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum


Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum


Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum


Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Night Beach, Yantai Hill &#38;amp; Museum

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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