Shandong Excursion: Day One (Qufu)

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» Shandong Excursion: Day One (Qufu)
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Posted on: July 15th, 2010

Well, considering I got almost no sleep the night before and went to bed pretty late last night (because of packing!); you can imagine the amount of willpower and effort it took me to actually get up this morning to get ready for our coach ride at 6am!

Somehow though we all managed it (except Sam and Gemma who were 30 minutes late…tut tut!) and by half 6 we set off. Since the coach journey was about 6 or 7 hours, that gave me lots of time to catch up on my sleep. Although, that said, sleeping through the driver’s crazy driving wasn’t easy and a number of times we were all rudely awakened by a long beep of the horn and swerving….just another day in Chinese traffic!

After many hours of driving with a few rest-stops, we finally arrived in Qufu. It was quite clear we were there as all the buildings had a very characteristic old-style look to them. The bus dropped us off and we decided it was time for some lunch so we all made our way to one of those cool milk-cart buses (remember them from Forbidden City?!) and got a quick meal in before heading to the Confucius Tourist Site (by milk-cart bus again!)

This really is the best way to travel around China! 😀

Our first stop was the Confucius Temple. The whole place was very scenic, with lots of old-style architecture and history. We walked through a multitude of ancient gates; admiring statues, stone tablets and other artifacts.  Near the end of the Temple, we witnessed incense-lighting at a shrine (with a large statue of Confucius in the center) and got a picture of the prayer wall (a wall covered in decorative plastic red blocks with prayers enscribed into them).

I loved the smell of incense here, almost as much as I love the smell of birthday candles being blown out 😯

We also discovered a stone tablet with the Confucius Family Tree engraved on it. It was very worn and quite hard to read but still made a nice picture 🙂 Next stop was the Confucius Mansion.

The Confucius Mansion consisted of a few more structures and buildings similar to the Confucius Temple, but with a quirky little feature of having to squeeze through a small space in between the walls to move on! The main highlight was the garden at the end though:

Confucius has a way better garden than I do 🙁

There was also the Confucius Cemetery but as we were exhuasted by this point we decided to skip that part and instead made our way to the exit, having to go through tons of the usual souvenir stalls with over-enthusiastic salespeople! I managed to buy the Confucius Analects on bamboo scroll, which was mentioned in our Confucianism lecture a couple of days ago, before heading back to the bus. Finally, before we got on the bus, I actually found a giant Confucius statue in the shopping centre. I was beginning to wonder if I’d actually see one in Qufu considering the fact you get Confucius statues all over the world and not seeing one in his hometown would be kind of strange!

As the bus made its way to the hotel; I have to admit we were a little nervous as we passed dingy looking hotels, worried that the bus would come to a stop outside them! Luckily I had no need for concern as we stopped outside a huge and very plush-looking hotel! We all excitedly jumped out of the bus and admired the very glamorous lobby as Issac arranged our room keys. We were thrilled when we reached our rooms on the 11th floor, they were so modern and stylish! Oh and most importantly, the beds were actually soft! A very refreshing change from the hard beds we’ve endured for the past month! Like little children we all ran in and out of each others rooms exclaiming features and things we’d discovered in our rooms! After we settled down a bit, we decided to grab some dinner. Unfortunately everyone suggested McDonalds (suprise, suprise!) so Sam, Nia and I headed our own way to find something else to eat. Although after ages searching, we couldn’t find anything so they eventually both gave in as well (Sam had McDonalds, Nia decided to go to bed hungry!)

Determined not to end the night eating McDonalds or starving, I went to the hotel restaurant in hopes of finding decent food (despite the fact reception said the hotel restaurant was closed). I pretended to be a clueless foreigner when I entered the restaurant and it worked! Despite the fact they’d already closed, they convinced the chef to cook me a meal and opened the restaurant up just for me! It was a little lonely being the only one sitting in the room, but the waiter made me feel welcome and I got to try some really good food (and actually had black-bean sauce, something we have scarcely seen since we arrived in China)! He also recommended the local Taishan beer, which was a really tasty cloudy beer. It was a great way to end the night, and now I’m about ready to drop my head in this comfy pillow and go to sleep!

Tomorrow is the day I’ve really been looking forward to (although I know some others are dreading it)! We’re going to be climbing Mount Tai! Expect a post from a very exhausted Marc tomorrow! ‘Till then…再见!

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I'm a 21-year-old university student currently living in Oxford, UK. I love travelling and hope someday to move abroad permanently. The best part about travelling for me is having new experiences, soaking up all the culture and making new friends from around the world. As well as travel, I love music (live or otherwise), gaming and cinema.
Marc
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