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Jinan - Qufu
Jinan - the capital of Shandong province, is for most travellers a transit point on the road to other destinations around Shandong. Jinan is most commonly noted for its springs. Also many Chinese celebrities come from Jinan, i.e. Bian Que, founder of traditional Chinese medicine, Zou Yan, founder of the Yin and Yang five element school, as well as Zhou Yongnian, founder of Chinese public libraries. The area has been inhabited for at least 4000 years. Modern development in Jinan stems from 1899, when contruction of the Jinan to Qingdao railway line began. When completed in 1904, the line gave the city a major communications role.
Amongst the most interesting things to see are Thousand Buddha Mountain, Big Brilliant Lake and Springs.
Tips and Suggestions: The most convenient way how to get to Jinan from Beijing is the train. The best one is T35 leaving every day from Beijing Railway Station (the main one) at 13:30 and ticket is 73 RMB (hard seat). There are several train to go to Jinan from Beijing, however this one is only the direct one and therefore the fastest one. The trip takes four and half hour. The same train from Jinan to Beijing is called T36 and leaves Jinan at 7:30 in the morning.
Thousand Mountain Buddha (Qianfo Shan)
The statues here were disfigured or disappeared during the Cultural Revolution, but new ones are gradually being added. There is also a grotto with copies of the four famous Buddhist caves of China. A cable car can take you to the top of the mountain, however better is to climb it up. Inside the park is also a big statue of Golden Buddha, which overlooks the whole city.
Tips and Suggestions: Nice walk during the summer, but you will feel that many Buddhas are recently reconstructed. From the peak you get an all-embracing view of Jinan and the countryside (in case there is no inversion).
Jinanīs 100-plus springs are often quoted as the main attraction of the city. The three main springs are Five Dragon Pool, Gushing from the Ground Spring and Black Tiger Spring. All three are within walking distance of each other, south of Danmin Hu, in the centre of the city. There are also seals inside the areal living in a small pool.
Tips and Suggestions: If you want to escape from the noise of the centre, this is a good solution, however you will meet crowds of people over here, expecially during weekends. You will also feel sorry for those poor seals, which have to live on a pretty small space as well as hate all those little Chinese kids but also adults, who tries to make noise by banging plastic bottles over the side of the pool trying to "motivate" the poor animals to show up. I was wondering they didnīt get crazy from that.
Shangong Science and Technological Museum
Shandong Science and Techonological Museum is located in the centre of the town and it offers several exhibits of exercising tools for austronautsī training, as well as models of rackets. In the ground floor, there is a playroom for kids, which can be used also by adults, if they want to return to the childhood. The second floor offers some exhibitions regarding earthquakes, electrocity transmission, holograms, and the functions of humen body.
Tips and Suggestions: Good for rainy days. There were more staff people than the visitors and the staff was apparently bored. They have many displays and educational exhibits you can try to experience the "real" thing, however many of them are turn on only in certain hours (like the earthquake room) and it probably has to be a group of people to convince the staff to turn it on.
Of monumental significance to the Chinese is Qufu, birthplace of Confucius, with its harmonies of carved stone, timber and fine imperial architecture. Following a 2000-year-old tradition, there are two fairs a year in Qufu, in spring and autumn, when the place comes alive with craftspeople, healers, acrobats, peddlers and peasants. It also hosts a huge pary on 28 September to mark Confuciusī birthday.
Main sights are Confucius Temple, Confucius Mansions, Confucian Forest, the largest artificial park and best preserved cemetery in China, and Mausoleum of Shao Hao, who was one of the five legendary emperors supposed to have ruled China 4000 years ago. His pyramidal tomb is 4km from the city.
Tips and Suggestions: The best way how to get to Qufu is the bus from Jinan. Qufu doesnīt have a railway statition since trains would "disturb Confuciusītomb". If you want to go by train you have to go to Yunzhou, 16 km to the west of Qufu and then take the bus from there. If you go to Qufu by bus from Jinan (bus goes every 30 minutes), it can happen to you, that you will be droped off "in the middle of nowhere" and become a victim of taxi drivers who want to take you around the city for 20 RMB. What they actually do is the fact, that they take you to some different park, which is more playground than a historical sight and you get to the main sights at the end. Donīt lose your head! Sometimes the bus arrives in the main bus station, which is near the Cofucius Temple sometimes drops you off in the middle of intersection. If you go there during the weekend or holiday, be sure you have enough cash with you. We experienced hard time to find a fuctioning AMT or a Bank during the New Yearīs Day.
Confucius Temple (Kong Miao)
The temple started out as a simple memorial hall and mushroomed into a complex one-fifth the size of the Qufu town centre. Huge extensions during the Ming an Qing dynasties are mainly responsible for its present scale. The main entrance is Lingxing Men in the south, which leads through a series of portals emblazoned with calligraphy. The third entrance gateway, the Arch of the Spirit of the Universe has four bluish painted figures that refer to the doctrines of Confucius as heavenly bodies that move in circles without end. Roughly halfway along the north south axis is the Graet Pavilion of the Constellation of Scholars, a triple-roofed, Jin dynasty wooden structure of ceremonial importance. The core of the Confucian complex is Dacheng Hall, which in its present form dates from 1724, it towers 31 m on a white marble terrace. At the exreme northern end of the Kong Miao is Shengji Dian, a memorial hall containing a series of stones engraved with scenes from the life of Confucius and tales about him. They are copies of an older set which date back to 1592. In the eastern compound of the Kong Miao, is Confuciusī Well and the Lu Wall, where the ningth descendant of confucius hid the sacred texts during the anti-Confucian persecutions of Emperor Qin Shihuag. The books were discovered again during the Han Dynasty 9206 BC - 220 AC) and led to a lengthy scholastic dispute between those who followed a reconstructed version of the last books and those who supported the teachings in the rediscovered ones.
Tips and Suggestions: It is worth seeing, but I am just not sure, if the ticket for 52 RMB per person is not too overpriced compared to what you can see over here and compared to ticket price to Forbidden City and other sights in Beijing.
Confucius Mansions (Kong Fu)
Situated to the east of the Kong Miao, the Konf Fu dates from the 16th century (Ming Dynasty), with more recent patchwork. The place is a maze of 450 halls, rooms and buildings, and getting around it requires a compass - there are all kinds of side passages to which servants were once restricted. The Kong Fu is the most sumptuous aristocratic lodginds in China, which is indicative of the Kong familyīs former great power. From the Han to the Qing dynasties, the descendants of Confucius were ennobled and granted privileges by the emperors. They lived like kings themselves, with 180-course meals, servants and consorts. Confucius even picked up some posthumous honours.
The main sight to see here is Neizhai Men, a special gate that seals off the residential quarters (used for weddings, banquets and private function). East of Neizhai Men is the Tower of Refuge, where the Kong clan could gather if the peasants turned nasty.
Tips and Suggestions: Since the Mansion is next to the Confucius Temple, it is no waste time to see it. I like it even more than the Temple itself. Even the price of ticket is not as astronomical (32 RMB) as the ticket price in case of the Temple. There are many shops inside, but donīt get too enthusiastic, the same stuff you can buy outside the Mansion much more cheaper.
Source: Information about the history from Lonely Planet