Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ancient Chinese History: Jinli Pedestrian Street and Wuhou Temple ~ Two wonderful tourist attractions in Chengdu China!

When we visited Chengdu, China, we had many places we wanted to visit and sight see on our list.  Of course we love to eat good local food, shop for gifts and souvenirs, explore China’s ancient history in modern days, and have fun along the way.  The Jinli Street shopping district and the Wuhou Temple was a perfect place for us to stop on our vacation with our family.

JinLi Street is an ancient street that was a busy commercial area in the Qin Dynasty around 200 BC.  The Three Kingdom period followed the Han dynasty and was just before the Jin Dynasty.  

Courtesy of Internet Images
During the Three Kingdom period, there were three Chinese states in this area known as the Wei, Shu and Wu.  (See map above courtesy of an image from the internet).  All three were powerful kingdoms ruled by their own emperor each with strong minded warlords.  In the early years, it was a chaotic time with numerous wars, infighting among various warlords and internal power struggles.  It was a bloody time in China’s history and a large percentage of the population died during these years.

Somewhere around 220 AD, Jinli Street became one of the busiest commercial areas for the Shu Kingdom.  This area has survived for many, many hundreds of years  to the current day. This famous and historic area was finally restored and reopened to the public in 2004.

JinLi Street is not a place to buy ancient treasures.  It is a modern shopping area for modern gifts and souvenirs, as well as a fun place to explore, be entertained, and have fun.  We found many small shops, with beautiful gifts to buy, as well as a number of small stalls with artisans working their crafts and even puppeteers putting on performances for the young and old to enjoy. 

Of course there are many restaurants and stalls selling local food and bars to sit relax and have a few drinks with family and friends.

For me personally, I mostly enjoyed the variety of ancient architecture style buildings, stores, shops, etc. These buildings have all been restored or rebuilt, but this area excited my senses and helped me imagine what this area was like almost 2000 years ago.

Jinli Pedestrian Street 锦里古街: 231 Wuhou Hall Street, Chengdu, Sichuan Province.


Wuhou Temple 
(Memorial Temple of Marquis Wu)

The WuHou Temple was built for Zhuge Liang, the Marquis Wu of the Shu Kingdoms during the Three Kingdom period of time.  This famous noble person was loved by so many people of his time for being honest and trustworthy with high degree of intelligence that solved many of the problems which people faced during this chaotic time.  Many memorials have been built in his honor but the most famous one is the Wuhou Temple in the southern part of Chengdu, China.

This is a huge temple area covering almost 400,000 square feet. When it was built, it was built next to and later combined with the temple of Liu Bei, the emperor of the Shu Kingdom.  The current temple was rebuilt and restored in the 17th century.

When we toured the temple, the grounds, pond and garden were very pristine, and we thoroughly enjoyed the many statues, carved stones, gates throughout the temple area.  We took a lot of pictures at this lovely temple site.

To get there from downtown Chengdu, you can take any of the following Chengdu public buses including number:  1, 57, 82, 334 and 335 and then get off at the Wuhouci Station. 

You can also get there by taking the Chengdu Metro line #3 and then exit the Metro line at the Gaoshengqiao station. From the station, it is only about a 5 minute walk to the Temple by walking east along Wuhouci Avenue. 
The cost to tour the temple is only 60 RMB and the temple is open to visitors from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm.  I suggest you plan on about 1 to 2 hours time to see everything at the Temple and to take lots of pictures.

 武侯祠 The Wuhou Temple in Chengdu's South Suburb


Friday, August 4, 2017

Du Fu Thatched Cottage, Chengdu, China, Famous Chinese Poet, “A Quatrain”, Tang Dynasty, Kuanzhai Alley

Du Fu Thatched Cottage and Kuanzhai Alley ~ Interesting places to visit when you are in Chengdu, China!


When we visited Chengdu China, we heard a lot about the famous Chinese Poet, Du Fu and his Thatched Cottage park and museum.  Du Fu is known as one of the greatest of all Chinese poets and he lived from 712 AD to 770 AD during the Tang Dynasty.   The Thatched Cottage park and museum is on a 24-acre site located on the western parts of Chengdu City in the Sichuan Province of China. This famous poet was truly honored in 1961 when the Chinese government made this park a National Heritage site.

I am an avid collector of worldwide postage stamps, and I have a number of stamps depicting the image of this famous poet.  Du Fu was raised and trained at an early age to become a civil servant and follow his father’s footsteps, his greatest life ambition. But with the deadly Lushan Rebellion of 755 AD, he fled for safety and eventually headed to Chengdu in December 759 AD. It was at this time in his life that he began to develop his talent for poems and also wrote poems as a means to make money and survive.

We fell in love with this serene place to visit and was pleased to learn about the life of this Chinese literature master.  The park has one of the most beautiful gardens in China with gorgeous ponds bamboo trees, pagodas, and so much more.   China built many fine pathways with stone landscapes taking you on a journey through the park.   This was a great place to take pictures and to enjoy the beauty of this park.

Du Fu wrote about 250 different poems in his life time and one of his most well-known poems describing the scenery he enjoyed while living in this area is called “ A Quatrain”.  He wrote the poem at his tiny cottage in 764 AD. 

A Quatrain (by DuFu courtesy of Wikipedia)
A pair of golden orioles sings in green willows
a column of snowy egrets flies off in blue sky
my window contains peaks with a thousand years of ice
my gate harbors boats from ten thousand miles downriver

Thatched Cottage of Du Fu 杜甫草堂

The thatched Cottage that Du Fu originally lived was destroyed but has been rebuilt and reconstructed to show how modest he lived while he wrote his many classic poems.  The museum in the park has many of his poems, images of DuFu and there are a host of statues and sculptures in the museum and park.

After our visit to the Thatched Cottage Park, we wanted to do some local shopping in an old section of Chengdu known as Kuanzhai  Alley 宽窄巷子, built/established during the Qing Dynasty.  This area consists primarily of Kuan Alley (Wide Alley),  Zhai Alley (Narrow Alley), and Jing Alley.  

This is a fabulous place to find great souvenirs, eat superb local foods, relax in bars/pubs, and people watch.  Millions of people visit this district every year.  

You can also see many displays from local artists and craftsmen.

The architecture in this area of downtown Chengdu, shows ancient Chinese lifestyles of the powerful military and the wealthy that originally inhabited Kuanzhai  Alley.  I found it thoroughly enjoyable admiring the variety of architecture in the buildings, the many inviting courtyards, open style restaurants, and the energy of all the people living in and visiting this area.

We spent an entire afternoon wandering and shopping and wished we could spend more time here.  We will definitely visit again on our next trip to Chengdu and our plan is to explore and enjoy Chengdu’s nightlife at Kuanzhai Alley.

Kuanzhai Alley 宽窄巷子