Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Kaifeng'ing It Up!

China is filled with history. Everywhere you go you will stumble upon history that has made China the place it is today. Kaifeng is one of the history stops we made during our times off from teaching. 

Kaifeng, deemed as one of the Seven Ancient Capitals of China, was founded as such in 364 B.C-- then known as Daliang and later as Bian, Dongjing, Bianjing and then some more depending on who conquered who.  

Presently, Kaifeng is filled with many reconstructed buildings and parks to retell the story of many different dynasties of life, death, and culture. The buildings we see today were supposedly rebuilt in 1843, according to the reliable, most magnificent internet source: Wikipedia. One hundred fifty years ago is actually thought of by locals as "not very long ago" since China has thousands and thousands of years of history. If Kaifeng wasn't destroyed and rebuilt during and after war, respectively, then floods did the job. The first flood was caused by the Ming army in the mid-1600's by diverting the Yellow River, and the second we can blame mother nature for. After so much destruction and reconstruction, the history books have survived and imitations and replications from the 1800's, thus far, have been preserved.

Rachel and I have been blessed with a friend here in Sias that took us to Kaifeng and gave us a tour. From Xinzheng (our town) to famous Kaifeng was only a one hour bus ride and cost 20 yuan ($3.18) a person.

Kaifeng being such a touristy town, travelers are greeted by many tuk-tuk drivers hoping to taxi travelers to their desired destinations upon arrival. Tuk-tuks are a common mode of transportation in our town, too, but they aren't quite so royal looking as these.
Our first stop was at the famous Xiangguo Temple. Originally constructed in year 555 and rebuilt several times over the years, Xiangguo Temple became an international Buddhism center, attracting many foreigners and great monks. The current structure and layout were built and arranged mainly during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Xiangguo Temple is now widely known as one of China's most famous Buddhist Temples.

Entrance to Xiangguo Temple
One of the first things seen upon entering is the magnificent Bell Tower. Inside this building is a bronze bell weighing 5,000 kilograms and can be heard from all over town. 

Bell Tower
The rest of the temple is filled with Buddhas and other statues revered and worshiped by many locals and visitors from all over the country.
One of the many Buddhas

Dragon made from styrofoam and flowers. 

Its supposed to be a peacock! :)
Kaifeng is also famous for it's well known and the city's most beautiful event: the Chrysanthemum Fair. The best time to visit this town is known to be in the September and October months because of this event. All over town, one can see many different colors and species of Chrysanthemum, the city flower. Unfortunately, we went in November; the flowers were not as vibrant as they would have been a month ago. Nonetheless, they were quite gorgeous and still full of life. Even though I wont be posting all the pictures I took of the flowers, I will put up a post of just flowers soon for people that are into that (like my sister, Becky).

Getting ready to see a million flowers.

Entrance to the world of Chrysanthemums

Rachel, trying her best to fit in ;)

During the latter part of the day, we went to Dragon Pavilion Park. This is the most famous and largest scenic spot in Kaifeng and is a must see. In Dragon Pavilion Park, one can see a huge imperial palace complex built during the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279). Some have even said this is somewhat like Beijing's Forbidden City but on a much smaller scale.

Grand Entrance to the grand Dragon Pavilion

I love how much detail goes into these buildings. They look so simple in some ways and so complicated in others.

The view of the park from atop the Dragon Pavilion

...and another one.

Rachel and I being silly

For lunch, Annie, Rachel, and I went to a restaurant to try the famous Kaifeng baozi! I would never expect a dish in China to remind me of my mother's cooking but this one hit the spot. These amazing dumplings were very comparable (at least for the moment) to the Georgian dumplings my mom makes called khinkali. Baozi are steamed, however, and khinkali are boiled. Both are filled with ground-meat and soup. My, oh my, are they delicious.

The beautiful city comes to life.

Another appealing feature of Kaifeng is its famous night market. Upon dusk, hundreds of locals open their food stands and begin selling their foods right on the street. The less adventurous westerners have more been known to eat at restaurants. Locals, on the other hand, make their way from surrounding towns to enjoy a meal with family in a nice atmosphere.

Grub? Seafood? Crab? Clam? We have it all!

Miniature Lobster

Rabbit anyone?

Chinese cheetos sans the cheese?
How vegetables look so much more appealing than meats lately :)

Mystery meats. 

Crepe-like thin breads for delicious egg wraps. 
Live fish in a half-full mighty muddy bucket.  
Well, this will probably do it for now. Thanks for going on a virtual tour of Kaifeng with me! Hope you enjoyed reading this and looking at the pictures. 

This was certainly only a small part of what we saw and experienced in Kaifeng. To the adventure minded, I highly recommend checking this place out.

Until next time,
Happy New Year!


1 comment:

  1. Babe, this was great! Didn't know half of those facts about Kaifeng! Loved the trip and the post :)
    - rach