Thursday, December 10, 2015

Quanzhou City and more...

China - #7

The coastal China town, Quanzhou City, is renowned for being the largest port in Asia during the Song (960 - 1279) and Yuan (1271 - 1368) dynasties and became our destination for a day's exploration.   Eight million people now inhabit this seaside city.  A city often overlooked by tourists for the more popular, Xiamen, about 55 miles southwest.  Pio, Yessi's brother, offered to treat us to this day's outing, with Uncle graciously loaning his car.   We are hugely grateful to both Pio and Uncle.

Pio's good friend living in Quanzhou City, charmed us by meeting us on arrival and leading us, he in his car, Pio following in Uncle's car, to the temples we'd come to see.  Weaving through amazing traffic, down narrow roads, through throngs of people, and beautiful old buildings, we arrive at the temples. 

Much of what we saw we could not photograph.  Inside the temples, out of respect to Buddha and  worshipers, no photographs were allowed.  Nevertheless, you won't miss the splendor from our few images.  I'm  embarrassed to admit that many of the questions I now have thought of were left unasked.  I have excuses, like language barriers, not enough time, the overwhelming nature of what we were seeing, but, more to the point, I simply didn't think quickly enough.

Our first stop...

Our second stop…

What a world these two wonderful people
have opened up to us

We're in awe of the beauty, history and architecture. 

One of the Chinese Buddha spiritual traditions is to "burn money", or to burn Joss Paper, also sometimes known as ghost money.  These sheets of paper-craft are burned as offerings.  Temples always have stores available for the purchase of joss paper, incense, lanterns, and other accessories for paying respect to the dead or for the expulsion of negative energies.

Stacks of joss paper.

One example of beautiful joss paper.

Joss paper being burned in a temple oven

Incense is also burned at temples for purging negative energies.

Gina to the right

But, as always, children are the highlight of any outing.  

And then, there's that Mr. Ed again.  This cute-woman-in-red very much wanted a picture with that tall guy in the hat.

On another day, Pio, and his friends out did themselves -- again.   This water sport is definitely not a common experience in China.  

Followed by coffee at this amazing coffee shop…

We ate chocolate waffles for yet another kind  of "too good to be true" experience.

Toward the very end of our China trip, Yessi's family included Ed and I in a very memorable event -- the visit to Yessi's father's and grandparents' tombs.  There is an annual event in China to worship ancestors and pray for them called Qingming Festival.  Although this day wasn't festival day, it was selected because it was the last day before Yessi and Brad departed for America. 

The ritual is to go to the graveyard for tomb-sweeping and the sacrifice of ready-to-eat food, tea and flowers.   Also, according to tradition joss paper and incense are burned at the tomb.  The stacks of joss paper you see in the photo below, were burned, as was the incense, before we departed.    Yessi's Dad died when she was very young.  We are grateful to him for our dear Yessi.


"The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude."

~ Thornton Wilder

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