A Travellerspoint blog

Confucius Says

This morning we had a hell of a time finding Master Yang for breakfast. He said to meet him on the 2nd floor, so we hit 2 on the elevator. We came out of the elevator, turned right, entered the breakfast area, and he is nowhere to be found. We headed back up the elevator, knocked on Master Yang's door, no answer. We went back to our room and tried calling him on his phone, no answer. We went back down to the 2nd floor, scarfed breakfast by ourselves, and then Joe headed back to the room to see if anyone would call us there, and I went down to the main lobby to see if they were waiting for us to leave. I found Bing Qing in the lobby. She was sent down there to wait for us (she couldn't eat breakfast anyways b/c she wasn't staying at the hotel). She and I walked up to the second floor and it was a completely different breakfast area, and Master Yang and his father were sitting at the first table when you waked in, just finishing up their breakfast with Wei Ping. I told them that we already ate, apparently on the 3rd floor, and that we were ready to leave when they are.

Master Yang said that he was going to spend the day with Master Wong going sword shopping, but that Joe and I were going to take a trip with Wei Ping and Bing Qing to Confucius's temple and grave site. He said that he has already been there 9 times, so he didn't want to go again, but we should defiantly visit it as one of the major places to go in China. But before we left breakfast Wei Ping handed me a large bag with a winter coat in it. "SheaShea" I told him, and I pulled out this long black jacket that reminded me of my old jacket from back home that Brittany now has in England (way to steal my warmth! Or purchase it from my apartment sale! Whichever!)

When we met back up with Joe and headed out we ran into Master Wong who came to Joe with a new, larger jacket for him to try on. This one fit really well, and Joe actually gave him a man hug (that pat on the back thing). Master Wong told us "No problem, no problem, you are my friend," and little did we know that even after only meeting this guy for one dinner, he actually was.

Wei Ping pulled his car around and Joe, Bing Qing and I pilled in for a rid I thought may take 20 minutes or so, but ended up taking hours! We drove and drove and drove, down these Chinese highways that were actually really nice. Rather than using those pillions to block opposing traffic head lights they used bushes and trees the entire way! Bing Qing explained that of coarse they would use trees in the medians because they are beautiful and they help produce oxygen to counteract all the car pollution. Makes sense to me.

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Then we finally made it to Confucius's town.

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Wei Ping dropped the 3 of us off and said that he would pick us up after we were finished. I felt a little bad that he drove us all this way and wasn't going to go inside the temples, but I guess he had some business he was going to attend to locally, so it was all okay. Tickets were like 100 yuen (only 75 for Bing Qing b/c she is a student), so we could see why he may not have wanted to go in.

After passing through the main gates to the temple we found ourselves surrounded by many pagoda like temples with huge turtles with scrolls on their backs. This, the largest turtle, they couldn't even fit inside a building:

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That last picture is of the golden dragon that circles above the turtles with the scrolls on their backs and is said to live at every major spiritual place, protecting and watching over everything.

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It was said that the emperor was very jealous that Confucius's temple had these dragon pillars that were made in better likeness than his own, so he had them covered up for years and years with cloth so no set of dragon pillars would rival his own at the Summer Palace (which everyone in China simply says is a terrible translation, and then leave it at that).

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That is a picture of the hall of alters dedicated to Confucius's student's and their fathers. Bing Qing told us that honoring the son without honoring their father isn't an honor at all. Joe asked if today people were less respectful to their parents, and she said maybe a little, but mostly no matter how shitty your father is, you generally obey and respect him anyways. She thought it was the craziest thing when I told her that it had been so long since I last spoke to my father (2, maybe 3 or 4 years?) that I couldn't remember. Then she told us a Chinese story. It starts out with a normal Chinese family that is suddenly struck with a disaster and they no longer have enough food to survive. So, out of great respect of his father (the grandfather of the story), he kills his youngest son and serves him to his father. Bing Qing said that many people in China revere this man as having a good sense of respect and honor for his father, but that she does not think he is so good because it is a father's duty to protect his children as well.

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That was Confucius's well where he (or maybe his servants) would get water everyday. Then after passing through maybe 20 temples, each one built by new emperors who wanted to show their people that they were good leaders by honoring Confucius, we made our way back to the front entrance and we had some snacks. Bing Qing thought it was really gross that Joe and I would eat raw carrots and that raw carrots are dog food (sound familiar? Corey?) Then we headed over to Confucius's family's temples.

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Here Bing Qing told us that Chinese people thing that straight things are not so beautiful, so this is why their bridges to pagodas are often zigzag shaped. In honor of the zigzag Joe will now preform some Xing Yi:

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(Everyone wants to take pictures with the laowie (nice way of saying foreigners, meaning foreigner, not ghost).)

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Then we headed out and walked about 30 min. to Confucius's grave yard.

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And for whatever reason, I can only find one picture from his graveyard! I don't know what happened to the rest. So to start off, we waked through about 3 huge gates with sayings from Confucius written on them before we made it to the main walled off area of the graveyard. Entering we passed though the graveyard on mini roads that had street signs to direct you though this massive graveyard. In China they don't always have headstones for every individual body, so to mark the graves they make these large mounds of dirt. Walking past these mounds all next to one another reminded me of looking at atoms on the microscopic level. Then there would be one large headstone indicating what family or who were part of the grouping of graves. These graves are for Confucius's disciples or students and their families. Over the bridge:

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Was the way to Confucius's tomb. Walking into the inner walled off area of the graveyard you pass a petrified tree inside a small, maybe 3 foot high pagoda. This tree was planted by one of Confucius's disciples. Then in a row on the right were all of these tall red pagodas with walls on every side and windows that were ornately screened with red carved wood. These pagodas were resting places for the emperors when they would come to pay their respects to Confucius. Each emperor had his own resting area separate from the previous emperor. On the left was a huge mound of dirt that was more like a hill than a grave. This hill was the tomb of Confucius's grandson. Once you walked past all the resting pagodas and the hill that is Confucius's grandson's tomb you came to a 90 degree turn around the grandson's grave, and a marker on your right indicated that this surprisingly smaller sized hill was Confucius's son's grave. Then, just past his grave, still with the grandson's grave on the left, was the grave on Confucius. Now his grave was slightly larger than the son's grave, but the grandson's grave spanned the with of both his father's and Confucius's graves combined! Anyways, just past Confucius's grave was a building that housed some of Confucius's most dedicated disciples who stayed with Confucius years after he died, only leaving his grave site to get food and water. They stayed with him and meditated every day. They were only supposed to stay with him a year or so after his death, but one disciple stayed 6 years!

Now a tour group was coming, so I was trying to get Joe to hurry up with his bowing before Confucius's grave, but then I thought it would be better to have all these Chinese people surround Joe while he prayed and get a video of all of them getting videos as well:

Thats Confucius's grave on the left, then I pan over to the grandson's grave on the right, then around to the building made for housing his disciples.

After this we drove the several hours back to Jinan, and both Joe and I fell asleep. In Jinan Wei Ping took us to a restaurant and bought us all stuffed dumplings for dinner at a restaurant near their football (soccer) stadium. This place was crazy big, the soccer stadium, it reminded me of Jacob's field but with neon lights everywhere. Jinan is into the neon lights. After dinner Wei Ping drove us around the city a bit and we got to see those fake trees with the lights for leaves and all the guard rails lit up with swirling rainbow colors and every building had some sort of neon light show streaming up the 4 corners or even between every window! Very beautiful city to see at night. Wei Ping drove past Baotu Springs and asked if we wanted to go in again to see the lights, but Joe and I were both exhausted. "My uncle said he can get us in for free, do you still not want to go?" Bing Qing asked. "No, I'm too tired. I've got flat feet!" Joe told her, and I think she may have just thought he was being polite.

The last thing we did that night was go to Wei Ping's office. It was right between where we ate lunch and dinner yesterday and our hotel, so right on the way. In his office he wanted us to download the photos we took that day so he could see what we got to do at Confucius's temple. While we did that he showed us a video taken by a news station about him! It was really neat to see Chinese news. They had a special documentary about Wei Ping that started off with a Chinese woman talking about Wei Ping as they showed slow motion footage of him waking down a crowded street in Jinan (so typical news documentary!) Then they showed him tinkering with all sorts of electronics and satellite dishes. It turns out that Wei Ping doesn't just work for the post office, but he is an engineer they hired to invent new technology to be used all across China! Joe was extremely impressed and gave Wei Ping a huge hand shake. I told Wei Ping (through Bing Qing) that Joe would like to be an inventor too when he grows up. Wei Ping smiled big at this and gave us the thumbs up, but then told us that he wasn't an inventor, but a tinker who tweaks things, but not as good as an inventor. Well he rewired their whole system from ATM machines (China Post is more than just mail, they have hotels, restaurants, ATM's, and probably a lot of other things we haven't been exposed to). Basically Wei Ping saved China Post millions of dollars with his "tinkering" and he has his own lab on a lower floor that he wished he could show us, but only his workmates and internship students have security clearance for the lab. Then he gave us pictures from last nights dinner (we didn't bring the cameras) and we were ready to go to sleep because we were sure that tomorrow was going to be another busy day, and Master Yang was on vacation, which meant no sleeping in!

Posted by - Rain 21:26

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ching lee and sean (sorry about the spelling, i'm talking about irene and cheryl's parents next door) loved this blog, we printed it out at danielle's grad party, and they explained the ghost thing to me. she really wants you to contact her sister when you get to Taiwan, and she is emailing and calling her and i will give you the info to contact her again later

by georgi r

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