A Travellerspoint blog

The Rural Ancient Plank Road Ride & Happy Birthday

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Though I’ve found several 'cool’ bike rides in and around Hanzhong in the five months I’ve been here I have never actually found or had one of those rides that at the end of the day makes me kick back with a few coldies and say ‘that was a freakin awesome ride mate’.

Yesterday and today it finally happened! Oh, and why did it happen on a Monday and Tuesday?

Here in China we are celebrating the Dragon Boat Festival and after teaching Monday and Tuesday’s classes on Saturday and Sunday we now have three days off to eat, drink, ride and be merry. For those who are interested in the history of the Dragon Boat Festival I have added some information at the end of the blog. Celebrations began Sunday afternoon with all one hundred and twenty teachers attending a huge hot pot dinner at one of the city’s most popular hot pot restaurants.

Crusty Simon….be jealous my friend!

Strangely though it was an individual hot pot and not the common communal hot pot that I am used to and personally prefer. The end result is of course the same but I like the shared hot pot as it always seems to bring a table full of ‘new friends’ together more so than the individual hot pot. The communal hot pot allows the group to add the food together and it then allows my favourite part to occur;

It then allows the ‘chopstick dumbasses’ to show themselves.

The group then helps each other retrieve the slippery food such as the thick and slippery rice noodles to the plate of the hungry individual who can’t seem to get a hold of it and this is always done with huge bursts of laughter and cheery beer toasts to all those sharing the messy table. Brad and I shared a table with several men we didn’t know and who couldn’t speak any English but thankfully one unlucky Chinese English Teacher was placed with us.

Sadly though it was easy to see that she wasn’t that happy about her placement.

Unlike any other school I have taught in my current schools Chinese English Teachers seem to have no interest in their foreign teachers, their lives and the country they come from. We arrive at the English Office each morning and we then say Hello and Good Morning and to date none have ever bothered asking us about our lives, our mother country nor any of our travels.

Personally this make me feel very uncomfortable as no matter where I have been in the world and in China, be it a hostel or a school we all want to know about each other’s realities.

Happily soon though it will be my past and soon I will once again be treading a new future pathway in life and one that will hopefully take me back to my beloved Fujian Province. Each night over the past week has found me sorting through the little that I call my life’s worth and once again halving it to then continue sorting and trying to rid even more.

Before I leave I will leave it on the side of the road for someone who needs and will benefit from it much more than I do.

<u>Now to My Awesome &#8216;Rural Ancient Plank Road’ Ride.</u>

Several weeks ago on our way home from&#8216;The Wrong Rive Ride’ Brad and I were separated due to yet another wrong turn and I missed the large Ding that sits somewhere on the road to between Hanzhong and Mingxian town. So yesterday I decided to head North West and see it for myself but what I found was a smallish Ding that sat upon a large stage. I was hoping more for an actual large Ding that sat upon a small stage like the one I visited on Dinghua Shan (the worlds biggest Ding) near Zhaoqing city in Guangdong Province that I visited during my &#8216;2010 Beers N Noodles Winter Adventure’.

A &#8216;Ding’ is a ceremonial Chinese Pot with two handles and three or four legs. The Nine Dragon Vessel on Dinghua Shan is around two stories high!

The Hanzhong Ding is surprisingly located in the middle of &#8216;no freaking where’ and for the life of me I can’t understand why it had been placed where it was. Normally such a thing would be placed in a popular park or on a mountain near a popular temple but here its simply in a tiny square located on the side of a busy road not only far from anywhere special but simply far from anyone and anything.

After visiting the smallish yet high Ding I decided to venture further north and visit some of the nearby villages.

With the northern hills in the distance one thing led to another and I soon found myself leaving one village to then visit another while moving further north, all the while the northern mountains were becoming more of a larger reality than something looming in the distance. I then thought of the Ancient Baoxie/Shimen Plank Road that I had visited with English Sarah several months prior and decided to spend the afternoon village hopping it towards the town of Baoxie/Shimen that sits at the foot of the northern hills.

For some reason all afternoon I had the bridge that you cross to the entrance to the Baoxie/Shimen Plank Road Park in mind but I never once thought that that is where I would end up. This is not the first time I have had that feeling AND found that exact spot!

I spent several hours riding north from village to village and riding through fields being tendered by farmers and on more than several occasions having to retrace my pedals due to dead end tracks. I knew that I would soon come to Baoxie/Shimen town and when I arrived I thought I would then have to decide whether I would even bother trying to locate the &#8216;Ancient Plank Road Park’.

Which could have been anywhere to the left or right of my arrival.

I rode through rice fields, along bumpy dirt tracks, on small rural concrete roads which then turned into more bumpy dirt tracks to then venture further onto tiny creek side tracks all of which then led me to the actual bridge that takes you across the Bao River to the ticket office to the actual Ancient Baoxie/Shimen Plank Road Park. Of all the places I could have ended up riding through such rural areas, how in the world did I end up in the exact spot that I imagined that I would? It took me back to last year’s Dragon Boat Festival ride whereI finally connected several of my rides and once again ended up in the exact spot I thought I would.

How does such a thing actually happen? Anyhow, none of that really matters!

What matters to me is the fact that I actually found and rode &#8216;that ride’ and that I can now leave here with a feeling of completeness when it comes to my riding. As for teaching, I will sadly have to leave simply knowing that I did turn up to all classes trying to make a difference to those who were unwilling to listen.

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane PS: For all photos please scroll down beneath all text. ______________________________________________________________

Today is the 16th June which marks a very important and special double birthday for two of the most important people in my life so there has been a very strange random play going on whilst I have been typing this entry and I’m sure that any Chinese person who has been listening would have been confused as to whether they should have been partying, drinking, packing a cone or two or slamming their head against the nearest wall!

For my Big Brother it has been Inxs and The Dandy Warholes. For my good buddy Glenn it has been Bolt Thrower and KISS. All of which have taken me back to some awesome times! You have no idea how much I miss the both of you! ______________________________________________________________

<u>Dragon Boat Festival / Double Fifth Day</u>

The Dragon Boat Festival which is also known as Double Fifth Day falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. From what I can gather there are many different stories as to where and how this festival came to light. But the most popular version and the one officially accepted is about Qu Yuan, a minister during the Warring States Period.

(475 - 221 BC).

<u>Legend of the Dragon Boat Festival's Origin</u>

At the end of the Zhou Dynasty (1100 &#8211; 221 BC), the country known presently as China had fallen into a state of conflict and despair. The Zhou Dynasty had now ruled for several centuries but many other states were trying their best to rise above being a feudal domain and become their own kingdoms. One of these states known as Qin finally rose above them all and once it became victorious it unified all of China under one rule for the first time in history.

Qu Yuan served as minister to the Zhou Emperor. As he spent his life fighting against the corruption within the courts he was both loved and feared by the other court officials. Upon Qu Yuan’s advice to avoid conflict with the Qin Kingdom along with his repeated advice aimed at how to deal with political corruption, these same officials pressured the Zhou Emperor whom soon removed him from the courts service and sent him into exile.

During his time in exile, which lasted for many years he traveled far and wide. He taught and wrote poetry and here is how he became Qu Yuan the legend! In 278 BC the capital of Chu was lost to the state of Qin. Upon hearing this Qu Yuan wrote the following poem and in a state of despair he threw himself into the Milou River.

<u>His last poem reads: </u>

Many a heavy sigh I have in my despair, Grieving that I was born in such an unlucky time. I yoked a team of jade dragons to a phoenix chariot, And waited for the wind to come, to sour up on my journey

Qu Yuan was adored by the common peoples whom then rushed to the river and on long boats they beat drums to scare the fish away. They then began throwing Zong Zi into the river to feed both Qu Yuan and the fish to stop them eating his body.

For many years after this, local peoples would row their boats down their local river and throw sections of bamboo filled with rice into the water as an offering to Qu Yuan. Now the traditional food known as Zing Zi is thrown into the water as an offering to him.

<u>The Modern Dragon Boat Festival</u>

From that time until the present, people have continued to celebrate Qu Yuan’s death by way of the Dragon Boat Festival where they have Dragon Boat Races, eat Zong Zi and do many other fun filled activities.

The Dragon Boats bring huge crowds to the river sides where they sit to watch brightly coloured boats race each other down the river. The boats themselves can be anywhere from forty to one hundred feet in length. Their front is shaped like a dragons open mouth and the rear is shaped as a dragon’s tail. An unbelievable eighty rowers can power them as they race other Dragon Boats to grab the flag at the end of a water course. Along with the rowers there is also the flag catcher and a drummer. Prior to entering the race the Dragon Boats must be brought to life by way of a sacred ceremony when the Dragon Boat receives its eyes

<u>Zong Zi (pyramid-shaped dumplings)</u>

Some say that there is another part to the legend. Some say that someone met Qu Yuan’s spirit on the same river bank. Qu Yuan supposedly told this person that all the food offered to him had been eaten by a dragon. Qu Yuan then told him that dragons fear bamboo leaves and &#8216;five-coloured’ thread. Therefore people began making the traditional food known as Zong Zi.

Zong Zi is glutinous/sticky rice with a small filling of pork, beef or something sweet. It is shaped into a pyramid and wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves. It was traditionally held together with &#8216;five-coloured’ thread but now many people use normal thread of strips of dried bamboo leaves.

<u>Talisman and Charms</u>

As the Dragon Boat Festival is held at the beginning of summer, people also wear talismans to fend of evil spirits whom supposedly bring diseases. People also place a picture of Zhong Kui at the door of their home as he is the guardian against evil spirits.

Adults can drink Xiong Huang Wine and children can carry silk pouches filled with fragrance to ward off evil spirits. Some also believe that if you can balance a raw egg on its end at exactly mid day, the rest of the year you will be very lucky!

Unlike Moon Cakes I actually love Zong Zi. Some foreigners say they are too bland but many like me really like their taste. How sticky are they? If a plane wing falls off in mid flight and if someone had Zong Zi onboard you could pretty much stick the wing back on and it would stay until something more appropriate could be used.

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A


Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Dragon Boat Festival &#38;amp; Village Ding &#38;amp; Plank Road A

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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