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Published: August 17th 2011
So after a terrible nights sleep on the train we eventually arrived at Taishan, a smaller city around 7 hours from Beijing. We were all pretty tired, some of us having slept worse than others due to an awful snoring man in a bunk opposite, and we were all looking forward to getting off of the train and freshened up, me especially as I had not slept much at all, I was on the top bunk and felt very claustrophobic and every time the train jolted I thought we were having a train crash which kept me up and scared all night!
We were taken straight to breakfast from the station by a lovely little guide called Selly who was a sweet and kind Chinese lady who was really good to us the whole day. After breakfast we headed straight to our destination for the day from Taishan which was over an hour away in Qufu. Unfortunately we weren't given any chance to freshen up therefore we were all groggy from the overnight train and some of us were still in PJ tops! It was very hot stil in this area, and the smog that we thought only affected Beijing actually seems to occur in the entire region. We arrived in Qufu and we spent the day here seeing the sights of Confucius, a famous Chinese philosopher. We were taken to the Confucius Temple for the morning which was a sprawl of temples, pagodas and gardens. It was beautiful and was around 600 years old however it was incredibly hot and we were all covered in sweat after an hour. We had the choice of going to see the Confucius Mansion straight after or heading to lunch, we opted to go to the Mansion first as we were not hungry enough for lunch just yet. The Mansion was not what were were expecting and looked very similar to the Temples, however we realised that we were expecting a Western style mansion and in fact the Chinese version is like a courtyard full of temples on each side. It was very beautiful and we learnt a lot about the life of Confucious and his decendants and the work and contribution he made to Chinese culture and lifestyle.
Lunch was spent in a local restuarant where we sampled more Chinese style food, we were served some kind of bird, literally the whole bird, head included, as well as a whole fish and some other pancake dishes similar to the duck pancakes we get in England bu they were instead filled with some other kind of veg, meat and rice. We were all stuffed from lunch and luckily the afternoon was less walking around in the heat. We headed to see the Confucius graveyard, a huge sight with some 100,000 graves inside, all scattered underneath beautifully tall trees. We jumped on one of the little shuttle buses that was taking people around the place (I could see why, the place was massive) and after a 20 minute journey we arrived at the resting place of Confucius himself. All the gravesights had a link to Confucius, many of them being his decendants. It was a truly tranquil and peaceful resting place and we all really enjoyed going around it.
By this time in the day we still had an hour and a half drive to our hostel and we were all very tired. It had been a long night and then an exhausting day sightseeing and everyone slept on the way to the hostel, bar the stop we made at a shop selling bamboo cloth products which was quiet interesting, although noone got anything in the end as it was quite expensive. The hostel was really nice and we dumped our stuff and headed out for dinner together. We are back in Taishan for the night and it is a cute little place with some nice local markets and cool street vendors selling everything and anything. After walking around for a bit we went and got an early night as tomorrow we are up and out at early to catch our train to Zhengzhou to go and see the Shaolin Temple which for me is one of the highlights of this trip and something I am very excited about!
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