A Travellerspoint blog

January 2008

A Village/Temple Bike Ride with Amigo

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya, WOW, I can't believe how quickly the last year has passed but passed it has! The end of term has arrived and it is now day two of my Winter Break. Give it another fifteen or so days and Spring Festival food will be placed upon millions of tables not only here in China but in many countries all around the world. This time last year I was on a train heading to the coastal city of Xiamen where I spent several days with English Daniel and Alexa before they headed off to Thailand. I then visited many awesome villages and cities before grid lock completely stopped me back in Xiamen. The problem last year is the same as this year. My VISA expires around this time every year so it makes it very difficult to travel as I have to return half way through the holidays and send off my passport to Guangxi Province. It then takes many weeks for it to be returned. So obviously half my holidays are spent 'at home' That's a real BUGGER! At the end of last year I headed down to Nanping for my yearly Visa Medical and we sent my passport off straight away and several weeks later there still is no sign of my passport. BUT, the difference is Luo Wei has been here with me since the end of last year and there has been no need to travel.

We have been more then happy in each others company getting to know each other more and more each day. The 'problem' will begin on the 26th January as Luo Wei after a battle secured the LAST ticket for a sleeper train back to Kaifeng City. Even if I had my passport there wouldn't have been a ticket for me. It really is insane travelling this time of the year. In the space of an hour or so the next ten days tickets were sold out pretty much all around China. They release ten days at a time and WHAMO! Bloody gone mate! So the most important thing is she got a ticket back to the closest city to her city. She will be home with her Mother and Grandmother for Spring Festival. I'll probably still be waiting for my passport! BUGGER! Anyhow today I borrowed Canadian Jo's bike and I took Luo Wei (Amigo) on my Village/Temple and Loggers bike rides. She took a tumble even before we made it out of the school gate. I'm sure the young kids here are fed rice wine for breakfast. None of them can walk a straight line. One second left, then right, then straight, then left and then right again.

Poor Amigo had no idea where Rice Wine Baby was heading and soon she was off the bike and had landed on her knee. I'm sure it bloody hurt but she kept her chin up and soon we were heading out of town. It was grey, windy and bloody cold but we had a fantastic day. We even stopped into a small village and got some traditional medicine for her mother. It took some time but the guy finally gave in and gave her the ingredience. That stuff is not cheap I can tell you! Not here nor back home! Beers N Noodles toya.....shane _________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was The Propellerheads The album was 'Decksanddrumsandrockandroll' Awesome!

Village Temple Ride With Luo Wei

Village Temple Ride With Luo Wei


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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

The LABA (Eight Treasure) Rice Festival

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Today was absolutely freezing mate!

The classrooms were so cold and everyone of us spent our time jumping here and there trying to keep warm. After classes ended Luo Wei and I headed for a walk on Pagoda Hill and then across the river to the train station to see if we could get her a ticket home.

No luck at all! Every single ticket sold until the 24th january 2008! Spring Festival really is the craziest time ever here in China! What an absolutely crazy freaky thing to do...give 1.3 billion people the same holiday every year!

Enough about that, it is only going to get worse over the next month and I'm sure I will fill this Travelpod full of whinges and complaints. Hey, got to yell at someone! ha ha!

Anyhow, today China celebrated yet another of its huge list of celebrations and festivals. If you like rice and a bit of history about how 'Eight Treasure' rice make its way from India to China..........

.....Read On!

  • *********************************

Falling on the eighth day of the 12th lunar month, Laba Festival was originally an occasion for people to give sacrifices to their ancestors, and to pray to heaven and earth for a good harvest and good luck for the family. Many years later, it has become a Laba rice porridge eating event. A porridge that contains different types of rice, beans, dried nuts, bean curd, and meat. The 12th lunar month is called 'La' in Chinese and eight is pronounced 'ba', which is how the name 'Laba' was derived. It is not only regarded as a day of sacrifice, but also the day on which Sakyamuni (founder of Buddhism) realized truth and became a Buddha. Laba is celebrated on the eighth day of the last lunar month, referring to the traditional start of celebrations for the Chinese New Year. La in Chinese means the 12th lunar month and ba means eight. Legends about the origin of this festivity abound. One holds that over 3,000 years ago sacrificial rites called La (&Agrave;&deg;) were held in the twelfth lunar month when people offered up their preys to the gods of heaven and earth. The Chinese characters for prey (&Aacute;&Ocirc;&Icirc;&iuml;) and the twelfth month (&Agrave;&deg; La) were interchangeable then, and ever since La has been used to refer to both. Since the festival was held on the eighth day of the Last month, people later appended the number eight (ba in Chinese), giving us the current Laba. The majority Han Chinese have long followed the tradition of eating Laba rice porridge on the Laba Festival. The date usually falls in mid-January. <u>The Legend of Laba Festival:</u></b> It is said that Laba rice porridge originated from India and was first introduced to China in the Song Dynasty about 900 years ago. Buddhism was well accepted in the areas inhabited by the Han Chinese, who believed that Sakyamuni, the first Buddha and founder of the religion, attained enlightenment on the eighth day of the twelfth month. Sutras were chanted in the temples and rice porridge with beans, nuts and dried fruit was prepared for the Buddha. With the passing of time the custom extended, especially in rural areas where peasants would pray for a plentiful harvest in this way. There is, however, another touching story. When Sakyamuni was on his way into the high mountains in his quest for understanding and enlightenment, he grew tired and hungry. Exhausted from days of walking, he passed into unconsciousness by a river in India. A shepherdess found him there and fed him her lunch -- porridge made with beans and rice. Sakyamuni was thus able to continue his journey. After six years of strict discipline, he finally realized his dream of full enlightenment on the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month. Ever since, monks have prepared rice porridge on the eve and held a ceremony the following day, during which they chant sutras and offer porridge to Buddha. Thus, the tradition of eating Laba porridge was based in religion, though with the passing of time the food itself became a popular winter dish especially in cold northern China. According to written records, large Buddhist temples would offer Laba rice porridge to the poor to show their faith to Buddha. In the Ming Dynasty about 500 years ago, it became such a holy food that emperors would offer it to their officials during festivals. As it gained favor in the feudal upper class, it also quickly became popular throughout the country. <u>The Eating Laba Rice Porridge Custom:</u></b> The custom first originated in the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279) and became popular in the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). Now it has been over one thousand years that the Chinese people eat Laba porridge on Laba Festival day. As is known to all, since ancient time&iexcl;&macr;s Chinese people have attached great importance to growing crops, so when the land bears a good harvest after years of hard work, the farmers will show great appreciation by sacrificing to the ancestors, and heaven and earth. Boiling Laba porridge is one way people celebrate their harvest. The ingredients of Laba porridge are various items that are full of nutrition. It is made of diversified rice (glutinous rice, oats, corns etc.), beans (soy beans, mung beans, kidney beans, cowpeas etc.), dried nuts (chestnuts, almonds, peanuts, etc.), bean curd and meat. Melon seeds, lotus seeds, pine nuts, sugar, and other preserved fruits are added to give more flavors. After 10 centuries of development, there are now over one hundred different cooking methods. After hours of boiling, the porridge is offered as a sacrifice to the ancestors and is presented to friends before noon. Family members eat Laba porridge together and leave some, symbolizing a good harvest next year. Some kind people hand out the porridge to the poor to show their pity. And in some regions people believe that pasting porridge on the flowers and fruit trees indicates the blossom of flowers and good fruition. Laba porridge is now regarded as a very nutritious food in winter that has the function of strengthening the spleen, stimulating the appetite, and soothing the nerves. It is welcomed by all people of different ages. Controlling the heat is of great importance in making Laba porridge. At the start, the flame must be high, but the fire is then turned down to let the porridge simmer until it begins to emit a very delicious smell. The process is time-consuming but not complicated. Laba porridge is not only easy to prepare, but also a nutritious winter food because it contains amino acids, protein, vitamins and other nutrition people need. Cooked nuts and dried fruit are good for soothing nerves, nourishing one's heart and vitality, and strengthening the spleen. Perhaps that is why it is also called babao (Eight Treasure) porridge.

Beers N Noodles toya.....shane ________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was the awesome Collective Soul The album was '1994 to 2001'

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Wuyi Shan Adventure With Luo Wei - Day II

Hey Hey and a Big G&acute;Day toya, Today being our second day at Wuyi Shan we rose early and I decided to take Amigo on my favourite walking adventure in Wuyi Shan. You begin the journey at a small stone bridge and you are then taken along side a small stream known as `Zhangtang Brooklet&acute; that runs beneath huge cliff faces on both sides. The vegetation is so lush and green and the water is crystal clear. Easily the cleanest water I have seen in China. Our first stop was the Huiyuan Temple. This temple was first built during the Song Dynasty and then rebuilt in the late Ming, early Qing Dynasty&acute;s. It was here that Luo Wei began talking to some of the Monks who live at the Temple. She told them that she was from Kaifeng and they were so happy to show her a book they had about a temple there (in Kaifeng). In fact the temple is one of China&acute;s most famous temples. Just up from where I was staying in Kaifeng is the Da Xianggua Si (or the Grand Buddha Temple). Like I said, this temple is one of China&acute;s most famous and the Monk proudly showed Luo Wei a book written by a female Monk who is was very high in this temple and also in China. When the Monk opened the book to show Luo Wei a picture of the author, she (Luo Wei) gave a squeal of delight and excitedly told the Monk that this (Lady) Monk began in a small poor Village Temple in Kaifeng and it was she (the books author and now famous Lady Monk) who was the Monk who raised her (Luo Wei) in the small poor Village Temple where she (Luo Wei) grew up. My Gawd! Bloody Hell that was really hard to write! Did everyone understand what I just wrote? Who was who and all that? Hope so because I&acute;m not going to go through it again. Hahahahaha! The Monk happily gave Luo Wei the book for her to happily cheerish. Anyhow, from the temple we continued through the valley following what is known as the `Huiyuan Temple Fragrance Brooklet&acute;. We were soon also passing beneath the majestic Eagles Beak Peak. As Eagles Beak Peak was lost to our past the huge Jade Pillar Peak stood before us. Here the brooklet changes its name and is simply called `Fragrance Floating Stream&acute;. We continued on towards what is known as `Big Red Robe&acute; or `Dahongpao (da = big, hong = red and pao = I have no freaking idea, I guess robe). What it actually is is a beautiful Tea House. But to get there we had a HUGE climb that took us up the side of a mountain and then back down the other side. Once we found the tea house we sat for some Green Tea Eggs and a cool cup of two Yuan green tea. The tea house is set beneath huge cliffs and amongst a small tiered tea plantation. We were soon walking the `Culture Tourist Route of Wuyi Tea&acute; and there is a reason why so many tourists are brought here, because it is bloody beautiful! For those like us whom wish to continue walking well into the afternoon you will actually need to exit the park through the Dahongpao Tea Trees Ticket Office. For those who hate climbing well over thirty minutes of hill stairs, then you&acute;ll really hate the beginning of this part of your day. BUT...what is found at the top is esily enough to make me climb the same stairs three times over. Sitting beneath a huge cliff face can be found an old temple. Luo Wei, just like Canadian Rob, who just like Aussie Martin and Georgia before him, let out a simple WOW when she first caught sight of this temple. It really is like that, I covered Luo Wei&acute;s eyes and she simply stood there in silence and then said `OH...WOW&acute;. Everyone has had the same reaction so far. After climbing a huge amount of stairs, sweating and breathing heavy you simply see this sight and you simply forget how tired you are.. This time, unlike the last two times we headed across the valley to visit the temple. When we got there Luo Wei and the people who lived there tried their best to communicate. They couldn&acute;t speak Mandarin and she couldn&acute;t understand their local dialect. HHHHHhhhhhhhmmmmmmmm! Since coming here she now has a little bit more of an understanding why I really don&acute;t bother learning much Mandarin. Here they speak completely different than she does (Mandarin that is). Half the time she can&acute;t understand them even though they are both speaking Mandarin. In the north they say Shaowu (as in SHHHHH be quiet). Here they say SSSSSSaowu (as in SSSSSSnake). But most times Luo Wie is as confused as I am walking around my city. She basicly understands nothing anyone says UNLESS she asked them to speak Mandarin and even then sometimes it is hard for her. Kind of like when I used to visit my Scottish Grandparents. We all spoke English but they spoke Scottish English and half the time I had to tilt my head to one side and say....um....ok. Anyhow, after our temple visit we headed across the valley to the little shrine/temple thingy and here we took the track taking us to the left which led us down stairs and into another valley filled with tea trees. Walking in this area really shows you that anywhere in China every little piece of usable space is used. This part of the walk is barely ever walked by anyone other than the happy smiling farmers you walk past whom offer a big smile as they clip and tend to the plantations. It is a lot wilder than both yesterdays and the morning&acute;s walks. Here you are away from the tourist crowds and well kept and signed paths. It is an awesome walk and one that always remindeds me so much of the walks my friends and I used to spend days walking anywhere from the Tweed Coast Area all the way to the Sunshine Coast Area in Queensland Australia. Our afternoons walk was still full of climbs both up and down. The terrain though is a lot different than the mornings walk. In most places, you can see ahead of you for a long distance without having huge cliffs surrounding you. It really is an awesome part of the park that obviously most people never get to see. The walk took us past Horse Head Rock and then down past the Three Nun Rocks and as we rounded the last cliff we were greeted by the view of Wuyi Shan city. We slowly made our way along and down the last leg of our journey that takes you to the park just across the road from the main bridge across the Chongyang River which is actually called the Chongyang Stream. Once we arrived back into the `tourist city&acute; we had to find the new bus station. We tried to find it in the morning to see what time the last bus was and of course it had been moved. We were told that it was now right next door to the hotel we were staying in. Could it be that easy? Strangely it was that easy and several hours later we were sitting at a huge table with Yan and Crew for her husbands birthday dinner. What an awesome weekend! Beers N Noodles toya......shane _________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was the awesome MC5 The album was `Looking At You&acute; Mick Evans, you&acute;re a bloody ripper mate! __________________________________________________

Wuyi Shan With Luo Wei Day 2

Wuyi Shan With Luo Wei Day 2


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The Monk Who Raised Luo Wei

The Monk Who Raised Luo Wei


Wuyi Shan With Luo Wei Day 2 01

Wuyi Shan With Luo Wei Day 2 01

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Wuyi Shan Adventure With Luo Wei - Day I

Hey Hey and a Big G&acute;Day toya, Where does one take a beautiful girl when she comes to visit? To the wonderful Wuyi Shan that&acute;s where! Why? It has a total area of 1000 square kilometres and its core being 636 square kilometres. It has a huge amount of unique and natural scenery that includes the nine-twist river, thirty six huge crags and what have been described as one hundred grotesque rocks. It is also an area for global biodiversity conservation. Domestic and foreign biologists have described it as the following; a showcase of world biology, a world of insects, a paradise for birds and a kingdom of snakes! It is rich in cultural interest and has a huge historical legacy that includes the three thousand year old `culture of the Minyue Kingdom&acute;, over three thousand year old `boat coffins&acute; that can be found in the areas rocky crevices&acute; along with Taoist and Confucius Temples and Nunneries. That&acute;s why! To be serious, we actually nearly never made it. We went out for a huge dinner with the school on Friday night and afterwards we then headed to a very expensive bar with a local reporter who insisted on paying for a heap of rather expensive wine. I of course insisted that he didn&acute;t and he insisted on having others join us. After the bar we kicked on to a very expensive Tea House and drank loads of very expensive tea from Wuyi Shan. I of course insisted that we didn&acute;t and he of course insisted that he top it off by buying Luo Wei a very expensive traditional tea set. When I use the words `very expensive&acute; I am meaning by MY standards. What this guy gets paid puts ALL Foreign Teachers to shame. So luckily for us we were drinking very expensive wine and the Saturday morning when we woke we were both feeling pretty much ok. The day wasn&acute;t so good, grey clouds and a very chilly breeze! No matter, up we got, packed out bags and headed across to the bus station. After a short wait we were on our way. As we woke late we arrived well after mid day and decided on a climb I hadn&acute;t done on my previous visits. So we ventured up the `tourist side&acute; of Heavenly Peak. Both times I&acute;ve been to Wuyi Shan, myself and those I&acute;ve been with have looked at the billions of people climbing the stairs and decided against it. One time the Aussies and I headed the long long way around and the next time Canadian Rob and I just said NO! Thankfully this time there were barely any people and we had most of the stairs to ourselves along with most of the park. Once we reached the peak the tops of the huge crags were beneath us and there was the river snaking its way between them. The bamboo rafts that Canadian Rob and I tried our best to enjoy looked like ice-cream sticks with ants on them. All around us was a breathtaking sight. Some of the crags tops were covered with trees and others were completely bare. Trees or no trees, all were an awesome sight and the view went on for as far as the eye could see. After taking some happy snaps we decided on a rest and a refreshing drink. The drink was refreshing but the price wasn&acute;t! I asked for two mi-zones and the girl said 12 Yuan. I handed over 12 Yuan and she asked for another 12 Yuan. What the? For a 3.5 Yuan bottle of Mi-Zone, she was asking 12 Yuan. So for 7 Yuan we were asked to pay 12 Yuan. It was bad luck as we had already opened one of the bottles. Believe me it was so hard not to throw the second bottle at her greedy head! We decided not to climb down the way we came and to do a reverse walk of the walk that the Aussies and I walked. We headed passed the Beautiful Pagoda and began walking the track behind it. We were soon climbing down hill again and passing beneath the Wuyi Arch. I remember my first thoughts when spotting this last June. `What kind of a person would make someone else carry such huge stonework up a bloody mountain!&acute; We then decided to wind our way down to Peach Blossom Cave which is famous as its "landscape is Wuling like. (Understand? Neither do it. Neither did the Aussies!) Its entrance is "No Path" with doubt and has another interest on it. Inside is rock around it, mountain springs here and there and reflecting the beauty of bamboo, peach and plum and a quiet place which historic famous persons enjoy living here. Peach Blossoming Taoist Temple too. (Ha Ha, that was taken from the brochure) I have a feeling they are trying their best to tell you that the area is really beautiful, full of bamboo and peach trees and if that&acute;s not enough you can go also find a Taoist Temple! If that is what they are trying to say then they would more than be right. It was really beautiful walking around that part of the park and the Kai Yuan or Taoist Temple was a breathtaking sight. Set beneath a huge mountain in a lush green valley it was almost an invitation to move in and live there. Just across the temples green grassy grounds was a huge statue carved out of a huge stone. The statue was almost identical to the one I visited on Qing Yuan Shan (mountain) in Quanzhou. It was a statue of the legendary Song Dynasty Taoism founder, Laozi. We then followed Squirrel Brooklet and made our way down to the Seventh Twist in the river. After making our way back along the river we made our way past the beautiful Shizhao Pavilion and the Clouds Lair on the rivers six twist. We then zig zagged our way through Zig Zag Caves and by the time we reached the entrance/exit everyone had gone home. We then had to begin walking back along the main road and hope for the best that a taxi or a bus came along. Five minutes later on a bus we were and ten mintues after that we were feasting on steaming bowls of delicious Northern Noodles (Lanzhou Noodles). Beers N Noodles toya.....shane _________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was The White Stripes The album was the great `White Blood Cells&acute;

Wuyi Shan With Amigo Day 1

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China Comments (0)