A Travellerspoint blog

August 2011

Jiangxi Province, Nice Place For Beers N Noodles

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

New school and new school year. But where in the land of Beers N Noodles am I?

If you are a traveller looking for a place that will give you a variety of interesting options, then Jiangxi province in southern China is definitely the place for you! An interconnected web of rivers, lakes and shimmering rice paddies, Jiangxi is defined by its water along with the pristine beauty of its misty mountains. Farmers in slickers and heavy boots till the fields in drizzling rain as snow white birds whirl overhead, and off at the edges of the province, low lying hills of pencil thin pines give way to more substantial mountain ranges, seemingly shrouded in perpetual mist.

Jiangxi Province is situated in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and its neighbouring provinces include Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Hunan, Hubei and Anhui. Jiangxi got its name during the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907) and because the Gan River runs through this province from north to south, it is also called Gan for short.

At the northern border is Poyang Lake, which is not only the largest fresh water lake in China, but also the largest winter habitat for white cranes. When winter approaches, nearly three thousand white cranes migrate to Poyang Lake to spend their winter. On the east side of this lake is Mt. Lushan with its lush mountains, enveloping clouds and mists, rapid streams and numerous deep pools and waterfalls. Mysterious and enchanting sceneries nestle in its secluded valleys and deep ravines. Sudongpo, a well-known poet of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), in honour of the 'Cloud Sea' of Mt. Lushan for its ever changing mist, wrote;

The failure to get a real perspective of the mountain, Only results in the fact that you are right in the midst of it!

Its modern as well as ancient Chinese historical sites will whet your appetite for learning about its culture. To top it off, Jingdezhen 'China's Capital of Porcelain' is also found within the province borders. Ceramics were produced here over one thousand eight hundred years ago and it was once the sole supplier for the Forbidden City in Beijing. While it certainly doesn’t wind up on many people’s travel lists, the province has its own surprises and it can be just the spot if you’re after a more remote corner of China.

Jiangxi makes it into most history books on account of its revolutionary credentials.

The Nanchang Uprising on 1st August 1927 marked the origin of the communist army, and seven years later the fabled Long March began from the First Red Army’s beleaguered outpost in the Jinggang Shan Mountains. But underneath the nationalist veneer lies some truly beautiful scenery. Its bucolic charms of Wuyuan, with its preserved villages, terraced rice fields and deep hallows splashed with wildflowers along with the rarely visited Hakka Country on the borders of Guangdong and Fujian provinces beckons travellers looking for a slice of authentic rural China to break the trip.

<u>History</u>

Jiangxi’s Gan River Valley was once the principle trade route that linked Guangdong with the rest of the country in imperial times. Its strategic location, natural resources and a long growing season ensured that the province has always been relatively well off. Jiangxi is most famous for its imperial porcelain, although its contributions to philosophy and literature are perhaps more significant, particularly during the Tang and Song Dynasties. Lushan was an important Buddhist centre, and also served as the home of the famous White Deer Grotto Academy, re-established by the founder of neo-Confucianism, Zhu Xi (1130 &#8211; 1200) as the pre-eminent intellectual centre of the time. Taoism played a role in Jiangxi’s development after Longhu Mountain became the centre of the powerful Zhengyi sect in the 8th century.

Peasant unrest arose during the 16th century and again in the 19th century when the Taiping rebels swept through the Yangzi River Valley. Rebellion continued into the 20th century when Jiangxi became one of the earliest bases for the Chinese communists.

Here is a list of links to when I travelled northern Jiangxi during my 2009 Summer Beers N Noodles Adventure…it honestly does have some of the most beautiful scenery found in China!

Romantic Serenity in Small Likeng Village Fruity Meejyo Bars in Big Likeng Village A Beautiful Ancient Bridge & City Adventure Jingdezhen, A Vibrant City Full of China Feeling Glazed At The Ancient Royal Kiln! Luotiancun, Shuinan & Jingtai Village Adventure On The Crossroads of Hunan, Hubei and Jiangxi A Sunny Afternoon On the Yangzi Mc Stunners & The Dongling Monastery The Beers N Noodles Adventure Ends On Mt Lushan Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Sound Garden The album was &#8216;Louder Than Love’ ____________________________________________________________

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

The 2011 Manchurian Beers N Noodles Adventure Ends

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

VISA Medicals hey. They are a pain in the arm at the best of time! Let alone those ones totally forgotten during Summer Adventures!

When I was in Anyang packing to take off to Guoliangcun Mountain Village I got a call from my boss reminding me that my Visa would expire in several weeks and also reminding me that I needed have my yearly medical for my Residency Permit.

After hanging up I sat down on the bed and said with a sigh; Well that puts an end to the 2011 Summer Manchurian Beers N Noodles Adventure!

I spent the next twenty five or so hours in hard seat on a train that seemed far colder than snowboarding naked. It was freezing and the size of everyone’s goose bumps was far more scary that the series of books in the same name and by the time I departed in Wuyishan, not only did I have a headache worse than that on a Sunday morning after a night on cheap wine but my joints and muscles had began to cramp. Thankfully it was nearly forty degrees outside so by the time I reached my trusty cheap hotel I had not only thawed but was more than happy to wash the last two days away beneath a cold shower and sleep for the next few hours with the air conditioner on.

After two days spent walking the lush, peaceful and bamboo and tea tree covered hills I woke feeling the worst I had felt in many years and spent the next three days trapped in my room shivering with fever until I finally woke with just enough energy to rise and catch the bus back to Shaowu to collect my things from YuwenJins home and wait for my new school to come collect me.

That never happened as by the time I arrived in Shaowu I was so dizzy and ill that I had to cancel the school collection and then spent several more days with cold sweats until I woke feeling 'still’ in both mind and body. I then reorganised the school collection and spent the following four days walking around Shaowu saying my goodbyes to my favourite temples etc during the day.

Nights were spent in the company of friends. Whom I would sadly have to say yet another sad goodbye to.

The saddest of course being LiPing (Joyce), who had just returned from a month in Singapore with a new and opened mind to what the world can offer her. She is no longer tiny village Joyce as over the following days and nights I watched and listened in amazement as she viewed her China through completely different eyes and no longer were the beeping horns, spitting and organised chaos innocently accepted the way it was prior to me leaving for my Manchurian Adventure two months prior.

As for the school collection and medical?

Due to the chaos of the new term starting the school forgot to ring my boss to inform him that they had no time to come to Shaowu and that I would have to catch a train. This would have been fine if I had of known four days before and when Buckland’s rang to find out how my medical went, things began to get a little chaotic in my life as two weeks had passed since I left Anyang city and I now had to do my Visa Medical alone and after calling them Friday, YuWenJin found out the Entry & Exit Hospital in Nanping was closed on weekends.

Anyhow, to cut a long story short;

He rang a friend who rang a friend and on Monday morning I caught the first bus to Nanping (three and a half hours), where I was met by YuwenJins friend at the bus station. We then caught a cab to the Medical Center where four of her friends were waiting and even though the staff had finished checkups for the day they still happily did my check up with good humor. All seemed to go well and I’m now just waiting for the blood test results which of course are the worst to wait for. After my check up I treated everyone to a delicious seafood lunch across the road where I also got to taste Beef cooked in Coke which was much more awesome than expected. I then caught the bus three and a half hours back to Shaowu and after packing I caught the night train five or so hours to Shangrao city arriving around four in the morning

Such a short yet so sweet and helpful friendship. Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Dan Melchoir The album was &#8216;Das Menace Christmas For The Crow’ ____________________________________________________________

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

Relaxing Lamaist Stupa Style Dagoba Steeple Days

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

After yet another long haul (around fourteen hours), I can now be found in the city that was the very first of China’s ancient capitals. I left the ancient Ming Dynasty Walled city of Xingcheng and bused it to Beijing where I raced between several bus and train stations trying to find one that had a single ticket south. After many hours without luck finally a lady overheard my despair along with my chosen destination and with a smile she took me by the hand and within minutes I was put on her friends bus (without ticket) and on my way eight hours south.

During the day it is a very slow paced city where I’ve found myself sleeping until well after midday the last few days. I then spend the afternoon searching for small alleyways and tiny family run noodle eateries. The evenings have been spent writing while people watching in the cities very vibrant mall area that after the sun heads elsewhere for another night the place transfers into a night food and clothes market.

<u>Tianning Temple</u>

At the heart of the Old Town and not far from the central Bell Tower can be found the Tianning Temple along with its curious pagoda. The temple was established Zhou Dynasty (BCE 1100-221) and entering through the magnificent front gate brings you into the first courtyard, which is dominated by the Hall of the Heavenly Kings, a three room hall that features hanging eaves over ornate gables along with a jolly golden statue of the Maitreya Buddha along with some large temple guardians.

Rising from the temple's second courtyard, Wenfeng Pagoda was originally completed the year 925 and renamed during the Qing Dynasty (1644&#8211;1911) to reflect its proximity to a Confucian temple. The pagoda stands on a two-meter high stone pedestal and is decorated with multi eave roofs, carvings of Buddha’s and Bodhisattvas along with a ten meter Lamaist Stupa Style Dagoba Steeple at the top. The unique pagoda is a beautiful sight as it rises up like a majestic umbrella from the streets of Anyang’s old town.

<u>Bell Tower</u>

At the heart of old quarter survives the onetime pacemaker for the people who lived here yesteryear. Now thoroughly restored, complete with new bell and looking (well, ancient I guess) finds itself situated within a wonderland of boutiques and chain stores, including the inevitable KFC. The warren of hutongs and homes that for hundreds of years provided refuge for the ancient city’s residents have sadly been swept away by modern developers whilst bringing the city into the 21st century but if you spend a bit of time darting down the small lanes and alleys in the area I’m sure your camera will leave with a smile.

<u>Now For a Bit of History</u>

Anyang is situated at the northern tip of Henan Province and is at the crossroads of the three provinces of Shanxi, Hebei, and Henan. With well over three thousand years of history this forgotten little town is the earliest of the eight great ancient capitals of ancient China, making it an important focal point of the Chinese nation and culture. It was authorised as the capital city of the Shang Dynasty (16 to 11 BC). This is the site where over one hundred and fifty thousand oracle bones were discovered and the inscriptions have proved to be the earliest written characters. The far western edge of the city was home to prehistoric cavemen during the Stone Age and over seven thousand artifacts (including stone tools and animal bone fossils) have been unearthed here representing what has been dubbed the Xiaonanhai culture.

Around 2000 BC the legendary sage kings Zhuanxu and Emperor Ku are said to have established their capitals in the area around Anyang from where they ruled their kingdom and their mausoleums are today situated in Sanyang village south of Neihuang County.

The capital served twelve kings in eight generations, including Wu Ding under whom the dynasty reached the zenith of its power, until it was wiped out along with the dynasty that founded it by King Wu of the Zhou Dynasty in BC 1046.

Anyang's Tangyin County was the seat of Yue Village, birth place of the famous Song Dynasty General Yue Fei. This was also the historic home of Zhou Tong, Yue's military arts tutor and in 1899, in Xiao Tun Village of Anyang City, Henan Province, villagers found many tortoise shells and bones carved with letters and symbols, which unveiled to the world Yin Xu, an ancient city with a long history and splendid culture. About three thousand three hundred years ago, the emperor of the Shang Dynasty (16th - 11th century BC) moved his capital city to Yin, which is today's Anyang city, and Yin then became the capital city for more than two hundred and fifty years.

Today Yin Xu is the earliest remains of an ancient capital city in written record.

Because of its great value in not only the historical relics of Chinese culture but also the human civilisation, Yin Xu topped the one hundred Greatest Archeological Discoveries of China in the last century and it was listed in the World Cultural and Natural Heritage List of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Lemon Jelly The album was 'KY’ ____________________________________________________________

Relaxing In Anyang City

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

Yin Ruins & The Worlds Oldest Writing

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Another amazing day in the life of eddakath!

Just like many days of my life, today was another one of 'those’ days that when I kick back and try to write about the place I visited yet I simply am lost for words. So to try to make it simple, ask yourself these two questions without re-thinking your answer.

Where do the earliest remains of an ancient capital city in written record come from and where does the world’s oldest writing come from?

Anyang City lies in the northernmost section of Henan Province and is separated from Shanxi Province by the Taihang Mountains in the west and from Hebei Province by the Zhanghe River in the north. Anyang was the first of the eight great ancient capitals of ancient China (Shang Dynasty 16th - 11th century BC), making it an important focal point of Chinese culture.

Around 2000 BC the legendary sage kings Zhuanxu and Emperor Ku are said to have established their capitals in the area around Anyang from where they ruled their kingdom.

At the beginning of the 14th century (BCE 1700 - 1100) King Pangeng of the Shang Dynasty established his capital two kilometers north of the modern city on the banks of the Huan River. The city, known as Yin, was the first stable capital in Chinese history and from that point on the dynasty that founded it would also become known as the Yin Dynasty. Lasting for some two hundred and fifty five years, their reign saw a succession of twelve kings over eight generations ending with the cruel and decadent King Zhou, whose perjorative posthumous name &#8216;Zhou’ refers to the part of a saddle or harness which wraps around the horse's tail which would lead it to be soiled first

Yin Xu has proved to be the earliest remains of an ancient capital city in written record.

Xiaomintun Village, two kilometers northwest of Anyang, is where archeological excavations uncovered the ruins of the Shang Dynasty (BCE1700-1100) capital. Excavations between 1928 and 1937 and more recent work by the Academia Sinica show that occupation starts in the 13th century BC. In 1899 Wang Yiron, director of the Imperial College of China, was proscribed dragon bones for his malaria and upon examining these curious artifacts he concluded that the script on them was a prototypical form of Chinese script. The bones were eventually traced back to the site in Anyang and China’s earliest archaeological excavations followed.

Further investigation proved the writing to be a much earlier form of Chinese writing and far more pictographic than its modern progeny.

Later excavations north of Anyang turned up more of these &#8216;Oracle Bones’ and also uncovered the Yin Ruins also referred to as the Yinxu Ruins. Yin was the final capital of China's Bronze Age Shang Dynasty. Covering a grand area of twenty four square kilometers, Yin Xu had a palace district, civil residences, tombs and workshops and was divided into two parts by the Heng River. The city was found to preserve a great number of bronze, stone, bone and jade articles along with the eighty seven kilogram Simuwu Ding, a four legged bronze cooking vessel which is the is the largest and heaviest bronze ware to be found in the world.

Much of what is known about the dynasty comes from the oracle bone inscriptions.

Made from items such as turtle shells and cattle skulls, the oracle bones were touched with hot metal so they would crack and divinations were made based on the cracks. Writings on the shells and bones detail the questions posed and answers received, providing insight into the Shang Dynasty, which had previously, like the city of Troy had been considered legend rather than history.

Also providing details into the ancient dynasty is the remarkably intact Tomb of Fu Hao.

The wife of Shang King Wu Ding, Fu Hao was also a military leader in her own right and entrusted to ceremonial duties by her husband. Fu's tomb held funerary objects as well as the remains of the human slaves buried with her. The distinctive Anyang style of bronze working with prominent designs suggests a strong interest in death and ancestor worship.

Its oracle bones provide important information on early social organisation.

Perhaps the most important finds from the city relate to the cemeteries, which included over a dozen royal tombs. Each consists of a large square pit fourteen meters across and four meters deep entered by either two or four ramps. At the centre an inner pit contained the body of the king set in a large wooden coffin. A small pit below the coffin held the bones of a dog and other animals. Around the central burial pit and on the ramps there were placed many grave goods and the bodies of the king's retinue (men and horses believed to be buried alive). Around the tomb, excavations have revealed numerous smaller pit graves and these seem to represent the accumulation of burials over a long period after the central prestige grave had been completed.

<u>The Museum of Yin Ruins</u>

Here amongst the eighty rammed earth foundation sites for palaces, shrines, tombs and workshops you can see the informative new Yinxu Museum home to the Simuwu Square Ding amongst other artifacts which include the Exhibition Hall of Chariot Pits that contains the excavated remains of six horse drawn chariots, the remains of an ancient road, the Oracle Bone Pit (source of the original dragon bones) along with the magnificently preserved Tomb of Fu Hao.

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Placebo The album was &#8216;Without You, I’m Nothing’ ____________________________________________________________

Yin Ruins &#38;amp; Royal Cemetary

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

A Relaxing Day At The Beach

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

Another day at the beach!

This morning after finding out that there were no train seats available anywhere for next several days I decided to check out the bus station and found that no buses from the Xingcheng bus station seem to go anywhere except Beijing or further north east from where I came I decided to stay another day and see about a bus to one of the close seaside towns. As I had time to spare I couldn’t resist just one more walk within the ancient walls and thankfully I did as I met a guy (I think his English name was Max and his English was totally amazing!) on a seven day holiday who was checking out three of the main locations that back in the day held invaders at bay, Xingcheng being one of them.

As he had seen all that he wanted to see within the walls we decided to head to the beach together and as luck had it, he was travelling by car.

As Max spent 'some’ time trying to find cheap (at a sea side resort town, yeah right) accommodation and swimming I ended spending my day slowly walking along the main beach finding several small temples and secluded beaches full of old fishing boats and nets left out to dry. On my return journey I come across couples having their wedding photos taken and if my baby was with me, with that amazing bridge as a back drop i don't know if I could have helped my self either! Max and I ended up meeting later in the evening and sat for a delicious meal of fresh seafood and chat before I grabbed a bus back into town to pack and get ready for my next adventure.

I would have loved to have stayed longer but as time and money is beginning to run 'lowish' and I also have several other places I wish to visit I decided to grab the bus to Beijing tomorrow and see about the first ticket out.

Just a short ferry ride from the coast lies beautiful Juhua Island. Which in Chinese means Chrysanthemum Island. Obviously due to the amount that grow there.

For those who choose to arrive at Beach No:1 you will find a huge statue of Juhua Nu, or Chrysanthemum Women who according to local legend , changed herself into an island to protect the people of Xingcheng from a nasty sea dragon. Her island form can be found nine kilometers from the coast and at thirteen square kilometers it is the largest island in Bohai Bay. The island is home to a fishing community, bodhi trees (rare in the north) several small beaches and temples, caves and natural rockeries along with an ancient holy well that is still being used by the locals after many generations.

Beers N Noodles toya…..shane ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Chinese Wu Bai The album was &#8216;Li Hai’ ____________________________________________________________

Xingcheng Beach

Xingcheng Beach


Xingcheng Beach

Xingcheng Beach


Xingcheng Beach

Xingcheng Beach


Xingcheng Beach

Xingcheng Beach


Xingcheng Beach

Xingcheng Beach


Xingcheng Beach

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Xingcheng Beach

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Xingcheng Beach


Xingcheng Beach

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Xingcheng Beach


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Xingcheng Beach

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Xingcheng Beach

Xingcheng Beach


Xingcheng Beach

Xingcheng Beach


Xingcheng Beach

Xingcheng Beach


Xingcheng Beach

Xingcheng Beach

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