We finished our meetings in Shenzhen early, so I had some time to do some sight seeing before my red-eye flight out. Our local representative was kind enough to send a lady from their staff to show me around, and we visited Splendid China (click here). This place can best be described as a “theme park” about China. I have to admit that when I first heard about it, I thought I’d be bored out of my mind. But I went out of respect for our rep, who wanted to share this with me. As it turns out, it was pretty cool. Not Disney World cool, but cool nonetheless. I got to see all kinds of regional architectural themes, and discover a lot about their culture. Here are some of the things I saw.
Dragons are a big part of Chinese culture, and they use them a lot.
These elaborate covered bridges were used as gathering places, to come hang-out. I imagine it's cooler over the water or something.
This was a different construction than I've seen before. Typically water wheels will have buckets of some sort that pick-up the water and dump. That often requires the bucket to tip in some way, and that movable object reduces reliability. In this case they just used a piece of bamboo that was mounted at an angle, so it would pour the water off to the side of the wheel. Very smart.
I have to admit that my knowledge of eastern religions is rather lacking. I knew that Buddhism was the largest religion, but I didn't realize how significant Hinduism was.
I never really knew what "Lama" meant. From the plaque on the wall... "Lamaism is a branch of Buddhism. It is practiced by Chinese Tibetans and Mongolians. Lama in Tibetan language means "supreme wise person". Lamaism is a combination of Buddhism and the local religions. Its temple is called a lamasery. A lamasery is a treasure house for its architectural splendor, storage of musical instruments, sculptures, wall paintings, and library."
Longmen Grottoes was first built in Northern Wei and the project was carried on until the Tang Dynasty. Construction lasted more than 400 years. At present, there are more than 2,100 niches and 97,000 statues. Feng Xian Temple is the largest open air grotto. It's principal Buddha, Losana, is 17 meters tall. Flanking the Buddha are "Bodhisattvas" (heavenly guards). This is the masterpiece of the sculpture art in the Tang Dynasty., is 17 meters tall. Flanking the Buddha are "Bodhisattvas" (heavenly guards). This is the masterpiece of the sculpture art in the Tang Dynasty.
Dragon boats are raced during the Duanwu Festival. The origin of the races isn't clear, but most stories include the drowning of Qu Yuan, a poet and statesman of the Chu kingdom during the Warring States period.
The whole temple is suspended in mid-air against the high and steep cliffs of Cuiping Peak in Shanxi Province (north central China). With the upper end fastening to a perilous crag over a deep valley, the temple was built on a base which had been chiseled into a rock. The whole building is a wooden structure in which there are more than 40 halls and pavilions. There are statues of the great founders of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism.
This observatory is the oldest one now existing in China. It was built by astronomer Guo Shoujing during the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). His computation gave 365.2425 days for a complete revolution of the earth around the sun, which agreed closely with the Gregorian calendar appearing 300 years later.
I forgot to take a picture of the plaque, but it didn't say much other than noting that there were buildings withing the outer wall, with each roof getting taller. There was only one entrance to the circle, so I suppose this was an easily defensible structure.
This was a pretty cool village setup, in an area that clearly had lots of water.
We watched a very cool show that reenacted a battle between Genghis Khan and somebody. All the commentary was in Chinese, so I have no clue who he was attacking, but all the horses made for a fun show. There were sword fights on sword back, bows & arrows, spears, etc. Well done.
More from the battle
Me and my wonderful tour guide.
I'm not sure what these orange flowers were, but they were all over, and made a nice splash of color in the otherwise boring January colors.
The ponds were full of these beautiful lilies.
And finally, a caption contest. This sign was spotted in a subway station on my way home from Splendid China. What do you think it says? I know, but the real answer won’t be nearly as fun as yours. :) Leave a comment with your caption.