Friday a bus trip to Yanguan
Trip Start Jun 01, 2011
110Trip End Jul 01, 2017
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Where I stayed
What I did
Sea God temple and other cool shit!
On Friday, my British friend Steve and I decided to go on a bus/walking trip for the day. Steve is very much a walker, and can go for miles at the age of 62. I mainly ride bikes, so my walking muscles do need some work. We took the 868 bus to the bus station out of Xiasha, with tons of humanity swinging from the handholds like sides of beef with the smells and noise and hell from this capsule of humanity, crammed into one hot bus with little ventilation
So Steve and I went walking around Yanguan and saw things that I haven't seen before, considering that this was my third trip here. First we went to the riverside park with a giant pagoda: it was very expensive to get in (4 dollars) and the pagoda was locked. No one was there except a few girls who enjoyed the same shade tree as us
We then left the expensive tourist trap (with no tourists there) and headed to the central part of Yanguan. After entering the new looking replica of the river gate of the town, we saw an old temple that was mainly intact. "The Temple of the Sea God" which was from the early 1700's. China has many types of temples folks, just like America has many types of Churches.
Traditional Chinese beliefs in Various Gods harken back to the Greco-Roman or even earlier times where people traditionally sent sacrifices to their Gods. They still do this here. they pray to these Gods. I think the fact that China has the ancient religions intact, as well as the later Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Muslims, is something special. I know of no other country that is this ancient and leaves old religions to their practitioners. Yes, Many of the local fishermen here pray and burn incense to the dragonlike fish gods of the waters and expect healthy returns.
How many modern Egyptians pray and give sacrifice to Horus or Isis anymore? See any Greeks burning sacrifices to Zeus and Apollo? They still do this here. From what I see they only sacrifice money and incense, but I'm sure in the mountain villages they probably sacrifice other things. These are pretty much the same Gods as in the Greek pantheon and more. People along the Qaintang often worship their version of Neptune. Blacksmiths worship their version of Vulcan the God of Fire. Even the Buddhist temples have a collection of more ancient dieties for people to worship
I guess that my main point is that: China is not the spiritually vacant commie land that many outsiders believe it is. The Chinese, even the atheist ones all participate in the "Ching Ming" festival or "Tomb Sweeping" day. On this day they clean up and clear the old grass and brush from the graves of their ancestors. They also burn money and incense in order to remember and honor their dead relatives. Much like Mexico;s "Dia de los Muertes" or day of the dead.
I see none of this traditional Chinese expressions of belief in brand new sterile "Xiasha" where I live. But Xiasha has beautiful parks and scenery. I like Xiasha as well as the older places. But the older places are more interesting. This is why I visit Yanguan quite often.
So Steve and I walked about Yanguan as far as my walking legs could carry me, then we ducked in to a pleasant open restaurant for some fried Jouset (dumplings). Like little ravilolis filled with pork or fish with green onion and rice
Steve and I walked back to catch the 868 and we waiting in the tiny bus station for over an hour before we abandoned the idea in favor of the t-106 which would take us nearer to our home but we would have to catch another bus at another station. I was wishing for a folding bike that would carry me away from all this madness. But soon enough we were back in lovely Xiasha and home once again.
Sunday I returned to Yanguan with a Chinese friend named "Sunny", he is a post grad who works half the week which is rare amongst 25 year old college students who have never known work. Many wealthy Chinese do not want their children to do any outside work
We stayed the night there in a nice castle like farmhouse which had a modern gate and beautiful tile on the outside. In China you will see many of these three and four storied "farm houses", Although they are huge they save on things like central air and heat, insulation and are mainly concrete brick with tile on the outside and smooth cement for walls. Most Have a giant concrete fence and a huge ten foot gate made of stainless steel. The tops of the outer walls occasionally have broken glass cemented to them to prevent thieves. Each one is like a small castle in nearly every way. They only cost about 50 grand on average, and the entire family works many years to contribute to the "Castle Fund"
Sunny and I left Yanguan on Monday and rode to Zhekou which is another 20 k down on the last peninsula of the river before it becomes total ocean. In fact, the river is so wide there that one can't see the other side unless its a perfectly clear and sunny day. There are huge sandy beaches on the river shore due to the big daily tidal bore that sweeps violently up the river every single day. We were pretty much at the ocean. The breeze, the view, the beaches, the salt water, ect.. all signified OCEAN. But if fact the South China sea was another 30 kms away and too far for us to ride to when we had to be back in Xiasha the same day
Sunny and I raced back to Yanguan but I got a flat tire at the last 7 kms. We fixed it with my tools but I neglected to find what caused the flat in the first place (I havent used a patch since high school but now I know). I simply folded up my bike and waited at a bus stop and got a cramped but welcome ride back to Yanguan. They Charged me a double fare where was 1.20 total. Once in Yanguan I went to a shop where the folks were friendly and knew me. They brought be to a tire fixer guy a few doors down. This wonderful man dropped the huge truck tire he was working on (I didnt know how to say "I am staying here tonight, no hurry), the truck guy was there first" but I just know how to smile and act grateful which I was. I sat on the outdoor table of the restaurant next door and had a couple beers while I waited. He found a very tiny yet evil looking sliver of metal sticking into my tire. My kevlar tire is nearly impervious to punctures, but this sliver was so thin and strong, he could barely remove it with pliers. He did caution me to replace the tube since it had two patches on it now. I have ridden over 200 kms since then and can attest to this man's tire patching abilites
Sunny soon caught up then headed back to Xiasha which was another 30 k for him to go. I stayed in Yanguan. Today I rode 60 Kms, Sunny did 90 k, which is 10 k farther than I have ever gone. And Sunny kept up with me just fine although he wasn't a regular rider. Most non regular riders fail to keep up with me, but Sunny can. I stay in Yanguan merely because I wanted to enjoy another night in this magical town and I wanted to be there alone with no assistance from Chinese friends. My first overnighter in a small Chinese town totally alone. I liked it a lot, but I see the wisdom in buying an electronic English to Chinese translator.
I wandered around town on my bike for awhile, found the North Gate of the ancient city all new and rebuilt. I rode around, looking for restaurants that had pictures on the walls and found a decent Muslim place. I saw a dish with onions and meat on top of noodles, I pointed to it and said "Baaaaaaaaaa" meaning that I want sheep or goat mean rather than beef (Chinese beef is usually old milk cow or water buffalo), and the owner understood
I went back to my hotel and watched Chinese TV for a couple hours and crashed after a decent days ride. Woke up at 7 AM took a shower, said goodbye to my new family, grabbed a bite to eat and stocked up on water. Then did the 30 K sprint back to Xiasha alone. Great experience overall.