Archive for the ‘Henan Travel’ Category

Drive from Zhengzhou to Hanzhong

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Mr. Chen Weixiang and his wife Chen Ya came up to my hotel early this morning, picking me up and placing my personal luggage onto the trunk of his white High Lander ( 4x4w) and starting off for the long driving journey. Driving up to an overpass leading to G30 Expressway, we are soon leaving the city of Zhengzhou far behind.

Drive from Zhengzhou to Hanzhong

Drive from Zhengzhou to Hanzhong

Situated 136 km to the southwest of Chengdu, Ya’an (雅安) is the launching pad to further explore the West Sichuan Province.  But Ya’an is about a 1330-km drive from Zhengzhou. Tonight we decide to put up at the city of Hanzhong (汉中) in Shaanxi Province, 753 km from Zhengzhou,  approximately 9 hours driving. For the 753 km drive,  we first go west from Zhengzhou to Xian for about 470km along G30 Lianhuo Expressway (连霍高速), then run south along G5 (京昆高速) from Xian to Hanzhong for the rest of the distance.

On the route from Zhengzhou to Xian ( G30 ).

On the route from Zhengzhou to Xian

On the route from Zhengzhou to Xian

Mr. Chen and I drive the white horse in turn. It is my first long-distance self-drive experience, a kind of challenge for me, used to drive slowly in the congested Beijing city. I’m excited with much expectation. It is a 4-lane expressway from Zhengzhou to Xian. The convenient service areas along  the expressways make our self-drive trip much easier. They offer a range of services –  toilet, dining, hot water, local products, gas station, auto repairs and more.

Sanmenxia (三门峡) Service Area is our first stop among plenty of service areas on our 6000km round trip to the West Sichuan Province. A huge signboard points to Sanmenxia Service Area reminding you to drive off the main road to the roadside stop area.

A huge signboard points to Sanmenxia Service

A huge signboard points to Sanmenxia Service Area.

The city of Sanmenxia in Henan Province borders Shaanxi Province on the west. The picture below is the main building of Sanmenxia Service Area.

The main building of Sanmenxia Service Area

The main building of Sanmenxia Service Area

The buffet at Sanmenxia Service Area offers a wide range of food and dishes.

The buffet at Sanmenxia Service Area

The buffet at Sanmenxia Service Area

After Sanmenxia it is my turn to rev the white horse onto the expressway and roll it towards Xian. Pre- and post- my starting  the engine, Mr. Chen takes one stereotyped picture of me to imprint the important moment on my memory.

A stereotyed photo of me by the white horse.

A stereotyed photo of me by the white horse.

A stereotyed photo of me by the white horse.

At Xian we branch off G30 Expressway and diverge to G5 Expressway down to the south running into the northern Sichuan Province.  Between Xian and Hanzhong ( our today’s destination ) lies Qinling Mountain Range ( 秦岭 Qin Mountain ),  a major mountain range located mainly in the southern province of Shaanxi, in China. Qinling Mountain is the most important climate dividing line between northern and southern China. The north side range is prone to cold weather while the south side enjoys a subtropical climate due to the physical barrier of the mountains with the rich and fertile landscape and a wealth of wildlife and vegetation.

I cannot supress my excitement over the physical touch on the mountain range which has been long lingering in my mind  dating back to my high school when I was educated to learn the name of Qinling in China geography lessons for the first time. Qinling Mountain Range looks more vivid and interesting than what we’ve learned from our geography book. Numerous tunnels cut through the mountains in the range extending over 100 km! What a human feat! Salute to the road builders!

Driving through Qinling Mountain Range.

Driving through Qinling Mountain Range.

Driving through Qinling Mountain Range.

Running through numerous tunnels dug through the mountains extending over 100 km.

Running through numerous tunnels

Running through numerous tunnels

Take a break at Qinling Service Area 1311 meters at sea level.

Qinling Service Area

Qinling Service Area

When we get to the city of Hanzhong, it is getting dark. Hanzhong is a small, but clean and pretty city with Han River passing by, one of the tributaries of Yangzte River. Lying on the south side of Qinling Mountain Range, it has a rich and fertile landscape.  Settled down in a nice hotel by the city square where local people sing and dance like other cities in China, we begin to look for something to eat.

Dancing at Hanzhong Square

Dancing at Hanzhong Square

Searching online, we get to know a back street north of the square, where we are supposed to find the local flavors or snacks. “Remianpi”(热面皮) is a local snack, literally meaning “Hot Flour Skin”. Putting a bowl of liqid flour onto a steamed grid, a thin skin of Remianpi is dipped with soy source with hot peppers and bean sprouts, sotft and delicious.

The making of hot flour skin

The making of Remianpi

The making of Remianpi

A bowl of hot flour skin

A bowl of Remianpi

A bowl of Remianpi

The night view of Hanzhong City.

The night view of Hanzhong City.

The night view of Hanzhong City.

Hanjiang River winds past the city of Hanzhong.

Hanjiang River winds past the city of Hanzhong.

Hanjiang River winds past the city of Hanzhong.

Any questions, just drop a line.

West Sichuan Self Drive Trip Starts from Zhengzhou

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Our 20-day self drive tour of  the West Sichuan Province (  the historical region of “Kham”) kicks off at Zhengzhou (郑州). A year before I’ve planned this great trip joining one of my former college classmates – Mr. Chen Weixiang’s couple team for a self-guided drive tour from Zhengzhou to the Western Sichuan Province covering such dreamy places as Daocheng, Yading, Kangdi, Danba, Hailuogou, Siguniangshan and more. 

Yesterday afternoon I took the 3-hour high speed train from Beijing West Railway Station to Zhengzhou East Railway Station. The first class cabin was quite spacious with two soft and large seats for one row, quiet and less crowded.

The first class cabin was quite spacious

The first class cabin was quite spacious

Taking advantage of the precious 3 hours to cram up for travel and geographical knowledge for this long trip, I flipped over the related pages of the travel guide book “Lonely Planet” and the newly bought “West Sichuan Tourist Atlas”.

cram up for travel and geographical knowledge

Cram up for travel and geographical knowledge

Arriving at Zhengzhou East Railway Station, I interchanged for Subway Line 1 and got off at the station of Green City Plaza. At the exit I was met expectedly by Mr. Chen Weixiang and Song Yuan, the only two former college mates in the city. My hotel was just a ten-minute walk from the subway station, not far from Mr. Chen’s residential block.

After a quick check-in at our lodging hotel in Zhengzhou, we soon found us at a nearby Sichuan food restaurant, very clean and a bit noisy, a typical Chinese restaurant. Mr. Chen brought a dozen of canned beer from home. Life was so beautiful with two of my former college classmates sitting before me, eating, drinking, talking about the past, present and future. Do we have future as a man over 50? Just forget the question and enjoy the present life!

Cheng Weixuang and Song Yuan

Life was so beautiful with two of my former college classmates sitting before me.

It was a dinner for the former classmate get-together, a dinner for wishing the success and smoothness for our coming self-drive trip starting next day. We hated to part for the night, but  there is no never-ending feast. A little bit dizzy, I walked back to my lodging hotel and fell a sound sleep. 

Waked up by the sunrise glow coming between my hotel hotel window curtains, I feel lucky at the site of the beautiful sunrise in a city often shrouded in smog. The sunrise glow is possibly a good sign for our coming 6000 km round trip to the West Sichuan Province.

the sunrise glow coming between the hotel window curtains

The sunrise glow coming between my hotel room window curtains.

Follow us to explore the West Sichuan Province. Any questions, just drop a line!

Top 10 Attractions in Henan

Friday, July 11th, 2014
facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Plan your Henan Tour? I’ve rounded up the top 10 attractions in Henan, a  province that  is an essential cradle of China’s civilization bestowed with long and thick Chinese history.

1. Longmen Grottoes
The Longmen grottoes and niches of Longmen contain the largest and most impressive collection of Chinese cave carvings entirely devoted to the Buddhist religion at the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (316-907). These renowned artistic treasures are now protected as a National Key Cultural Relics Protected Unit and listed as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 2000.

Basically, visiting Longmen Grottoes takes about 3-4 hours. If you arrive at Longmen Railway Station from Xian or Zhengzhou before noon, you are highly advised to go directly from Longmen Railway Station to Longmen Grottoes. Longmen Grottoes are located 12km in the south of Luoyang city center and 5km south of Longmen Railway Station.

So it saves both time and money to visit Longmen Grottoes directly from Longmen Railway Station. The taxi ride from Longmen Railway Station to Longmen Grottoes costs between RMB20 and 30. Or you may take the public bus No. 67 or 71 within close proximity to Longmen Railway Station (bus fare RMB1).

2. The Archaeological Site of Yin Xu
Yinxu, literally “Yin Ruins”, is the remnants of Yin, the last capital of China’s Shang Dynasty (1559BC-1046BC). The Yinxu archeological site now is one of China’s oldest and largest, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site (2006).

Yinxu is home to the first form of Chinese writing ( oracle bone script ). The massive architecture consists of palace area, emperor tomb area, general tomb area, handcraft workshop area, civilian inhabitancy area and slave inhabitancy area.

Yin Xu ( Yinxu ) is located 7km northwest of the city center of Anyang, 510km south of Beijing. The city of Anyang is easily accessed by highspeed trains from any cities along the Jingguang Railway Line such as Beijing, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Wuhan and Guangzhou.From the city center of Anyang, you may take the public bus No.01 fromt the bus stop of Shirenda (市人大) and get off at the 14th stop of Yinxu Museum, then walk north for about 900m and you will reach Yin Xu, officially known as Foundation Sites of Palace and Temple of Yin Xu (殷墟宫殿宗庙遗址).  Of course, you also can taxi there for a small amount of money.

A Rock Stone inscribed with the Chinese name of Yinxu.

A Rock Stone inscribed with the Chinese name of Yinxu.

Entrance Fee:RMB 90

Guide Fee:RMB 80-120
Opening Time:8:00  – 18:30(April – Sept) 8:00 17:30(Oct – March)
Tel: 0372 – 3932171/3161009
Fax:0372 – 3161009

3. Historic Monuments of Dengfeng in “The Centre of Heaven and Earth”
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is composed of eight clusters of buildings and sites around the foot of Mount Songshang represented by the buildings in Shaolin Temple, Zhongyue Temple, the Zhougong Sundial Platform and the Dengfeng Observatory.

Travel to Shaolin Temple overland is the only choice of transportation. You may prebook a taxi or rent a private car from local travel agency in Luoyang which costs you around RMB 600 for a round trip.

For money saving and more interactive contact with the locals as well, you may go to Shaolin Temple by taking the long-distance bus from Luoyang Long-distance Station which is located across Luoyang Railway Station in the city center. Plentiful buses pass by Shaolin Temple. Just get up early and buy your bus ticket on the spot from Luoyang to Shaolin Temple.

4. White Horse Temple
White Horse Temple is the oldest Buddhist shrine in China. The temple is the important cradle of Chins’s Buddhism, which was introduced into China from India in 68AD in Eastern Han Dynasty (25 AD – 220 AD), the same year when the white horse temple was built.

The white horse temple is located about 20km east of Luoyang City center. You may take the public bus No.56 starting from Luoyang Railway Station and ending at the White Horse Temple. Or you may take a taxi (RMB 50) directly from downtown Lulyang to the enetrance to White Horse.

Shanmen Hall means the entrannce to the temple

Shanmen Hall means the entrannce to the temple

5. Henan Museum
Henan Museum, as one of the four grand museums in China, is situated in Nongye Road, Zhengzhou. It was originally constructed in 1927 in Kaifeng and relocated to Zhengzhou in 1961.

The present building was built up in 1991. Its appearance of hourglass seems to tell you what will deposit here after the time flies.

Henan Museum

Henan Museum

6. Shanshangan Guild Hall
Shanshangan Guild Hall was the former lodging and meeting place for the merchants from Shanxi Province, Shaanxi Province and Gansu Province. It was first built from the ruins of Xuda Palace in 1775 during the reign of Qianlong Emperor in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Xuda was one of the founding fathers of Ming Dynasty ( 1368-1644). The name of the road where the present Guild is located is called Xuda Palace Road.

The past 200 years have seen Shanshaangan Hall going through numerous ups and downs. What we we see today is a small part of the riginal guild. Or more exactly it is the only remaining Guangdi Temple building inside the original guild hall. The whole temple architecture is rife with exquisite carvings out of stone, brick and wood, which vividly tell the Buddhist stories and folk tales with great artistic value.

The remaining Guangdin Temple is mainly composed of 7 parts- A huge screen wall, Opera Tower, Bell and Drum Tower, East Wing and West Wing Halls, Traditional Pailou (decorated archway), the Great Hall.

Entrance Fee: RMB 30
Opening Hour: 8:00 – 18:30
Add: Xufu Street, Kaifeng. 开封市内徐府街
How to get there
Take Bus 1,13,18 and 31 or walk from Temple of the Chief Minister

 Shanshangan Guild Hall

Shanshangan Guild Hall

7. Temple of the Chief Minister
Originally built in 555 AD, the temple were rebuilt for many times in Tang Dynasty, Northern Song Dynasty, Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. Fires and Yellow River breaches were the main causes for the fatal damages to the temple.  The present temple was renovated to a great extent in 1990s.

Temple of the Chief Minister was in its prime during Northern Song Dynasty (960-1126),  the monks totaling 10,000, 64 subordinate temples and an area of 540 mu ( 35 hectares ), an imperial temple for Northern Song Dynasty.

The present temple is mainly composed of the Heavenly Kings Hall, Mahavira Hall, the Octagonal Glazed Hall,  Sutra Depository Building and the Four-Faced Thousand Eye Guanyin within the Arhat Hall.

Entrance Fee: RMB 45
Opening Hour: 08:00 – 18:30
Add: 36 West Section of Ziyou Road, Gulou District, Kaifeng 鼓楼区自由路西段36号
Tel: 0378 – 5665090
How to get there
Take Bus 1,2,5,8 or walk from Kaifeng Bus or Train Station ( 2. 5km).

Temple of the Chief Minister

Temple of the Chief Minister

8.Zhuxian Zhen ( Zhuxian Town )
Just about 23km south of Luoyang, Zhuxian Zhen is one of the four great ancient towns in China – the other three are Foshan, Jingdezhan and Hankou. Zhuxian Zhen is famous for its 1000-year-old craft of woodlock printing.

The woodblock new year paintings in Zhuxuan Town is an untangible cultural heritage in China. It has been on the verge of extinction due to the new printing technology. Recently the governments at all levels have allocated funds to support and develop the craft of man-made new year paintings

Zhuxian Zhen ( Zhuxian Town )

Zhuxian Zhen ( Zhuxian Town )

9. Guoliangcu ( Guoliang Village )
Guoliang Village perches on the clifftop at the Wanxian Mountains in the north of Henan. The village is famed for its mountain scenery, vernacular dwellings and The tunned road is now well known as “Long Corridor in the Cliff” or “Precipice Gallery”.

In 1972, 13 strong villagers from Guoliang Village wanted to change the situation of inaccessibility to the outside world and started carving a road off the east side of the cliff,  a three sided tunnel that would stagger today’s average construction firm.  The carved tunnel is 12 or 13 feet across,  about 15 or 16 feet high and a mile long. The tunnel road is praised as one of the 8 road wonders in the world. The road was opened in 1977.

Guoliang Village is located 82km to the northwest of Xinxiang, 90km north of Zhangzhou, easily accessible by highspeed trains from Beijing, Shijianzhang, Wuhan and Guangzhou since Xixiang is on the Beijing – Guangzhou Railway Line. From Xinxiang, you may take the bus from Xinxiang Long-distance Bus Station first to Huixian County, then connect the local bus to Guoliang Village.

10. Nanjiecun ( Nanjie Village )
114km south of Zhengzhou, Nanjiecun is China’s very last Maoist collective. A trip to Nanjie Village is a journey back to the revolutionary Maoist time in 1950s, a redisccoery of commmunism with Chinese characteristics.

Nanjiecun is the last enclave of the Mao-style collective in a sea of socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics.  It is an anachronism, a quaint ,  lovable oddity and a Maoist Disneyland in the competitive market economy in China.

Nanjiecun Village is located in Linying county 128km south of Zhengzhou along the Jingguang Railway ( Beijing – Guangzhou ) ,  National Highway No.107 and Jingguang Expressway ( Beijing – Guangzhou ).  Nanjiecun is easily reached by the buses starting from Zhangzhou.  Now there are 848 families with a  population of 3100 people in  Nanjiecun Village and an area of 1.78km square km.  Over 10,000 migrant workers live in Nanjiecun Village. These migrants work in the factories and enjoy partially the welfare of the villagers of Nanjiecun.

Any questions, just drop a line.