After a very hard time of four-day second semester final exam, all international students of Northwest A&F University was organized to have a five-day four-night trip to Henan (河南) and Shanxi province (山西), which was called “Summer Cultural Trip”. The main destinations of this trip were Luoyang City of Henan province and Pingyao Ancient City of Shanxi province.
July 4,2014 was the departed date of our trip. It was a fantastic day with a lovely weather. According to our plan, international students were asked to gather in the dorm lobby at 7am. When the time arrived, just within a few minutes after 7am, a very quiet dorm lobby had changed to be very crowded. Everyone started to greeting warmly to each other. We stood in twos or threes, and talking while we were waiting for the bus. The amount of international students that joined this trip has around 60 students, with two tour guides. Moreover, four teachers (Teacher Zhang, Teacher Zeng, Teacher Wang, and Teacher Pang) also joined with us in order to organize the students and facilitate this trip. Within a very short time, two big buses arrived in front of our 21 dormitory building. No need to wait, after we got on buses, at 7:20am, buses departed from our dorm. Only 15mn later, our buses reached Yangling Nan Zhan, which is a new high-speed railway station in Yangling. Then, our two tour guides helped use to complete the procedures in the station, and waited for the train.
At 8:36am, the train left Yangling Nan Zhan toward Xi’an Bei Zhan. The speed of this train was very fast, sometimes it was more than 300Km/h. Just only 30mn later, this train reached Xi’an Bei Zhan. Train stopped there around 10mn before departed for Luoyang Longmen Zhan. It was 10:50am when we reached Luoyang Longmen Zhan. In Luoyang, we met another two local tour guides. They went to the train station to meet us, and took us to have lunch. From train station to the place we had lunch, it took more than 40mn. However, on the way we had a good chance to enjoy the beauty of Luoyang city.
Luoyang city (洛阳市)
Luoyang is a prefecture-level city in western Henan province of Central China. It borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the east, Pingdingshan to the southeast, Nanyang to the south, Sanmenxia to the west, Jiyuan to the north, and Jiaozuo to the northeast. The name “Luoyang” originates from the city’s location on the north or sunny (yang) side of the Luo River. It is a historic city with more than 3,000-year history. It was the capital for nine dynasties, including the East Zhou, East Han, Caowei, West Jin, North Wei, Sui, Wuzhou, Late Liang, Late Tang, so it is named as the “Ancient Capital of the Nine Dynasties”, ranking top one among the 7-ancient capitals in China. The most prosperous period of Luoyang was in the Sui and Tang dynasties with the population more than one million. Known as the oriental start of the “Silk Road”, it had wide political, economic, cultural exchanges with countries of Europe, North Africa and Asia. The ancient capital Luoyang also boasts rich humanistic cultures. The fables about Fuxi, Nuwa, Yellow Emperor, Tangyao, Yushun, Xiayu in ancient China were mostly originated from here; the generation and development of traditional Chinese cultures: Confucianism, Buddhism, Daoism, are closely related with Luoyang; the Book of Changes and The Eight Diagrams were generated here; Laotze wrote the Daoism here; Confucius once asked the ceremony here; the Historical Book of Han Dynasty and Comprehensive Mirror for Aid in Government were complied here; Zhang Heng invented Armillary Sphere and Seismograph here; and the great poets Du Fu and Li Bai left their ever-lasting poems here. The rich and abundant historic culture of Luoyang has done its contribution to the Chinese nation and also leaves endless wealth and relic sites for the following generations to visit and ponder on the past. The ancient capital Luoyang is among the first batch of China’s historic cities declared by the Chinese government.
We went to a big Muslim restaurant for lunch. It was not only a good-environment restaurant, but also decoration and taste of Henan food were fantastic. After lunch at 1:30pm, our tour guides took us to one famous Buddhist Temple, called “White Horse Temple”. We spent around 2-hour for visiting there.
White Horse Temple (白马寺)
White Horse Temple is located 12km away from Luoyang city, established by the Han Dynasty in 68AD. This temple is believed to be the first Buddhist temple built by the government in China. According to historical records, Emperor Ming of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220AD) once sent his minister on a diplomatic mission to western region to learn about Buddhism. After finishing study, they came back with two eminent Indian dignitary monks, and a white horse carried the sutra and the figure of Buddha. In order to memorialize the contribution of the white horse, Emperor Ming has built the temple and named it “White Horse Temple”. White Horse Temple was regarded as the “originating court” and the “Cradle of Chinese Buddhism” by the Buddhist disciples. Since its establishment, it was rebuilt for several times in which the restoration during the reign of Emperor Wu Zetian was especially notable in its large scale. Today’s White Horse Temple is a rectangle courtyard facing south. The gate of the White Horse Temple was built in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Covering a total area of 40,000 square meters, the temple mainly consists of Tianwang Hall, Great Buddha Hall, Daxiong Hall, Jieyin Hall and Pilu Pavilion.
After 2-hour visiting White Horse Temple, around 3pm, we went to another place, called “Li Jing Men” (丽景门), for strolling down the street until 6pm. After that, it was time for dinner. However, before we left there for dinner, our international students were divided into two groups: Muslim group and Non-Muslim group. Why? The main reason was within this month, it was a festival of Muslim students related with their religion. During this period, they were not allowed to eat or drink during day-time. It means that their eating time was very difference for Non-Muslim students. Thus, separating students into two groups was in purpose of being good in arrangement for them. Because of like this, after strolling down the street, Non-Muslim students group continued to have dinner, when Muslim students group were taken to the hotel for relaxing (they would take dinner after sunset).
The second day of our trip was July 5, 2014. The weather was so nice too. Then, at 9am, we departed from the hotel after breakfast. Around 1-hour later, our tour buses reached one beautiful and famous place of Luoyang, called “Longmen Grottoes”. We spent more than 3-hour for visiting there, but still cannot finish, because this place is too big.
Longmen Grottoes (龙门石窟)
The Longmen Grottoes (or Longmen Caves) are located on both banks of the Yihe River, 6km south of the historic city of Luoyang. They are known at home and abroad for their large numbers, massive scales, variety of subjects, delicate carving and profound meaning. They are an outstanding manifestation of human artistic creativity and prove how marvelous a place can be made by pursuit of excellence and dedicated hard work. On November 30, 2000, the Longmen grottoes were approved by the 24th UN Heritage Commission to be put on the List of World Cultural Heritage. The grottoes, together with Yungang grottoes in Shanxi province and Dunhuang Mogao grottoes in Gansu province, are known as “Three most famous grottoes” in China. The name “Longmen” (龙门) means “Dragon gate”. They got the name because of two mountains (where the grottoes are carved) flanking Yihe River appear as a gate, and when the Sui Dynasty emperor built his palace in Luoyang, it faced the mountain “Gates”.
The carving work began in 493AD, when Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty moved his capital to Luoyang from Datong (where they had carved the Yungang grottoes). At that time, Buddhism was spreading east into China and was venerated by the imperial court. The Buddhists adopted the practice of carving rock temples dedicated to the Buddha. Therefore, the site includes some 1,350 caves, 750 niches and 40 pagodas filled with thousands of Buddhist status.
After lunch at 2pm, our team continued to visit another famous place of Henan province. That was “Shaolin Temple”. We also spent more than 3-hour for visiting there before we left for dinner in Dengfeng city.
Shaolin Temple (少林寺)
The Shaolin temple is probably the most famous temple in China, not only because of its long history and its role in Chinese Buddhism, but also because of its martial arts or Wushu Chan. Shaolin is situated in the beautiful Songshan mountains, which is only 8 miles of Dengfeng and about 50 miles southwest of Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province. It was established in 495 during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534). Batuo, an Indian monk, came to Luoyang, the ancient capital, for spreading Buddhism at that period. Emperor Xiaowen was a believer of Buddhism. So he decided to build the temple in the Songshan Mountains to house Batuo, who translated many Buddhist works and had a few hundred followers there.
Tallin of Shaolin Temple (塔林)
The Tallin of Shaolin temple is all previous dynasties Shaolin temple eminent monk’s tomb. It has 14,000 square meters of total area. In 1996, the State Council announced for the national level key cultural relic preservation organ. Tallin extant Tang, Song, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing; each generation of bricks and stones grave tower 240: Tang tower 2, Song tower 2, Jin tower 10, Yuan tower 46, Ming tower 148, and other towers which are unclear for the Qing and Song dynasty.
On July 6, 2014, we needed to leave Henan for Shanxi province. Thus, after breakfast at 8am, we departed from hotel for Henan’s provincial capital, Zhengzhou, by our tour buses. It took more than 150mn to reach there. We had lunch in Zhengzhou, before we went to Zhengzhou high-speed railway station at noon. The train left Zhengzhou Zhan at 1:30pm, and reached Shanxi’s provincial capital, Taiyuan (Nan Zhan) at 6pm. After arrived Taiyuan, we also met another two local tour guides that would be our tour guides for two-day tour in Shanxi province. After that, we went to have our dinner, but from train station to the place for dinner, we spent more than 3-hour. We were so tired on that day. Thus, after dinner, what we needed was only relax. Then, at 10:20pm, we reached Pingyao Ancient City’s gate, but we needed to walk from there to the hotel inside the Ancient City. So we reached the hotel at 11pm.
On July 7, 2014, it was a cloudy morning, we left hotel at 7am for breakfast. Then, we reached the place for breakfast at 7:45am by walk. After breakfast, we kept continue walking to the city gate. At 9am, we departed from Pingyao Ancient City’s gate for visiting the “Wang Family Compound”.
Wang Family Compound (王家大院)
Wang's Compound is located in Jingsheng Town, Lingshi County, 35km from Pingyao Ancient City and 140km from Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province. It is a luxurious residence built during 1762-1811 by the descendants of the Wang Family, one of the Four Families of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in Shanxi Province. The compound occupies a total area of 150,000 square meters of which 45,000 square meters has been declares as a provincial protective cultural relic. It is not only an example of residential architecture, but also a museum of architectural art. Its sculptures of stone, wood and brick can be found everywhere in the courtyard. The crafts are refined and exquisite. Today, the architectural groups open for viewing are Gaojia Ya, Hongmen Bao, Chongning Bao, etc. Altogether there are 231 courtyards and 2,078 houses.
East Courtyard, informally called Gaojia Ya, was built during the reign of Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820) of the Qing Dynasty. It was open to the public as the Art Hall of Chinese Residences on August 18, 1997. The complexity of the structures will make you feel like you are moving through a labyrinth. It is a cluster of courtyards, each with its own kitchen yard and private school yard. In the middle sector are two main courtyards and Beiwei Yard. In front of the main yards is a long alleyway measuring 127m in length and 11m in width. To the northeast is a small side-yard while in the southwest there is a large side-yard. At the four sides of the East Courtyard there are four gates; east gate (to the east of the long alleyway), south gate (in the middle of the alleyway), west gate (to the southwest of the large side-yard) and north gate（to the northeast of the small side-yard).
West Courtyard, informally called Hongmen Bao, which means Red Gate Castle. The castle is 105m wide from west to east and 180m long from north to south, presenting in the shape of a regular rectangle. The main street measuring 133m in length and 3.6m in width divides the whole courtyard into two main areas. Three alleys of west-east direction cross with the main street, thus presenting the Chinese character 'Wang'. Hongmen Bao has 27 courtyards of different styles, splendid or delicate. The Wang Museum in the courtyard is the only example of Wang culture throughout the world.
Chongning Bao was built cooperatively by Wang and other Family in 1725. The style is similar to that of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Liqun Art Hall is located inside the castle. Liqun is a famous painter. Many of his works are displayed in this hall.
After visited Wang Family Compound, we needed to go back to Pingyao Ancient City for lunch. We had lunch at around two o’clock in the afternoon. After that, we spent whole afternoon visiting Pingyao Ancient City.
Pingyao Ancient City (平遥古城)
Pingyao is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city, founded in the 14th century. Its urban fabric shows the evolution of architectural styles and town planning in Imperial China over five centuries. The special interest of Pingyao city are the imposing buildings associated with banking, for which Pingyao was the major center for the whole of China in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Ancient city of Pingyao is a well-preserved ancient country-level city in China, located in Pinyao country, central Shanxi province. The property includes three parts: The entire area within the wall of Pingyao, Shuanglin temple 6km southwest of the country seat, and Zhenguo temple 12km northeast of the country seat. The Ancient city of Pingyao well retains the historic form of the country-level cities of the Han people in Central China from the 14th to 20th century. Founded in the 14th century and covering an area of 225 hectares, the Ancient city of Pingyao is a complete building complex including ancient walls, streets and lanes, shops, dwellings and temples. Its layout reflects perfectly the developments in architectural style and urban planning of the Han cities over more than five centuries. Particularly, from the 19th century to the early 20th century, the Ancient city of Pingyao was a financial center for the whole of China. The nearly 4,000 existing shops and traditional dwellings in the town which are grand in form and exquisite in ornament bear witness to Pingyao’s economic prosperity over a century. The Ancient city of Pingyao is an outstanding example of Han cities in the Ming and Qing dynasties.
On July 8, 2014, it was a final day for our summer cultural trip. It was a day for travelling back from Pingyao ancient city to Yangling. In an early in the morning, we all prepared our belonging properties and left the hotel for breakfast at 7:30 am. Then, we left Pingyao Ancient City at 9am and reached to Pingyao train station at 9:35am. Our train from Pingyao Gucheng Zhan to Xi’an Bei Zhan was 10:13am’s train. We spent a lot of time on the train. Although it was a high-speed train, we still arrived Xi’an Bei Zhan around 2pm. Thirty minutes late, we arrived Yangling.
It was an unforgettable and joyful trip. We could have chance to learn many things about Chinese Culture, and enjoyed many beautiful scenery. Although sometimes we felt tired, we all were very happy. If you ask me, among many beautiful and famous places that we visited during this five-day four-night trip, which place that I most like? I would like to say, I most like Luoyang’s Longmen Grottoes. It is a combination of two mountains and one river with a huge and ancient bridge. The scenery of Longmen Grottoes is very beautiful, with natural view. I like it very much.