Exploring – Qufu, Shandong Province

19 Jul

It was only after we had come back from Shandong province that I got my copy of the July edition of Time Out Shanghai.  Tucked inside in a special section was a visitor’s guide (in English) to Shandong, including Tai An (home of Mt. Tai) and Qufu (home of Confucius).  A little late, but it did fill in some of the knowledge gaps from our recent trip there.

We went to Qufu the day after we climbed Mt. Tai, too tired to contemplate climbing another section of the mountain.  We took a taxi from the hotel about an hour to there and were dropped off near the entrance to the Confucius cemetery.  Qufu’s three most famous attractions are – the Confucius Temple, the Kong Family Mansion (Kong is the surname of Confucius in Chinese) and the Confucius Cemetery.  Conveniently, they have a ticket that allows entry to all three places which we purchased and entered the cemetery.

Li eavesdropped on the guides who were explaining different things to tour groups and I wandered around, wondering how much of what I was seeing was actually real.  We both believed that this area must have been ransacked pretty well by the Red Guards and so each story, each tablet needs to be taken with a grain of salt.  Monuments aside, the place itself is beautiful with long lines of cyprus trees and pathways that seem to continue into the mist.  There are many, many monuments and a long winding path along the outside.  We elected just to see the highlights as we had more stops planned through the day, but I think it would be an interesting place to perch with a sketch book and a picnic lunch – maybe sketch, maybe write poetry and let the history of so many people soak into my memory.

After the cemetery we went to the temple to see how it would compare to others that we have seen.  It is a grand Confucian temple as you can see by the photos.  To tell you the truth, it didn’t leave much of an impression on me – I think the heat may have had something to do with that.

The last main destination was the Kong Family Mansion.  It was set up like a mini-Forbidden City with lots of waiting rooms and halls, pavilions for important decisions and then in the back 2/3rds of the property the house for the family and beautiful gardens.  The gardens were my favorite part – the rooms were sparsely furnished so it was difficult to see them as a true home, but the gardens you could think of children playing or an elderly gentleman going for a stroll.

Qufu was interesting.  It made me think about China’s past and the Confucian values that used to be the basis for behavior.  Despite the fact that many things on the itinerary were reproductions I still got a feel of the importance of this family with the hometown a day’s journey from Beijing.

What place you have visited really made you think?  Please let me know, I’d like to add some more spots to my must visit list.

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4 Responses to “Exploring – Qufu, Shandong Province”

  1. thirdeyemom July 19, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    Looks beautiful! I fell in love with the rooftops of the temples all lined with animals.

    • gkm2011 July 19, 2012 at 10:37 am #

      Yes, that was one of the neatest parts. I think that the engineering involved in getting that many peaks lined up is also fascinating.

  2. expatlingo July 19, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    Interesting to stumble upon these old places in China (especially since, as you mentioned, so much was destroyed in the 1960s or at other points in the last 100 years…). I wonder if the reason it didn’t leave much impression was perhaps because it’s not actively used anymore (well, except for tourism)? Perhaps it’s a little soulless compared to active temples in Hong Kong or Macau? Just a guess.

    • gkm2011 July 20, 2012 at 9:24 am #

      Yes, I think that may have been part of the reason. I remember at one point looking at the magnificent trees and the guides were telling people the history and then asking them to just take photos, not to touch the bark. And then immediately half of the group started swarming the tree, touching it. The lack of respect makes me uncomfortable.

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