Friday, February 7, 2014

Confucius Temple is an ancient must-see

A Qufu mother and baby
 in 1984
I visited Qufu, the ancestral home of Confucius, on my first trip to China in 1984.  We stayed overnight in a quaint hotel on the edge of his family compound where we played ping pong that afternoon. The next day, we toured the Confucius Temple. Back then, Qufu had just opened up to foreigners, and we were quite an oddity. Wherever we went, we drew crowds who would shyly touch us.
So I was pleased to see Qufu and the Confucius Temple placed at the top of a CNN list of 15 must-see ancient places to see.
The Confucius Temple was built after the ancient Chinese philosopher died in 479 BC. We toured the cemetery where he was buried. Today, an estimated 100,000 of his Kong family descendents are buried there.  The article notes his tomb is a pilgrimage site.
I haven’t been back to Qufu since then, but it’s on a list of places in China I want to return to someday. While I was there, I took a walk around the town, and snapped this picture of a proud Chinese mother and her baby outside their simple home on a side street. She was so pleased I wanted to photograph her and her baby. I often wonder what they are doing now.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Is it Mexico or is it China?

Street market in Algodones, Mexico
We made a day trip from Yuma, Arizona, to Algodones, Mexico, today, and soon felt we’d been transported to China instead.

We stopped at a restroom right after crossing the border from California to Baja California, and were hit with the first sign: An attendant sitting at the door handing out, not toilet paper as they do in China, but paper towels, for which he expected a tip, though a sign at the entrance said the toilets were free.

The minute we stepped onto the street, we were accosted by shills for dentists, optometrists and pharmacists. This reminded me of being accosted by shills for hotels as you leave a train station in China.

Street markets in China
Americans go to Algodones for low-cost health services, particularly dental needs. But, of course, there is the requisite shopping. Street markets abound within a couple of blocks from the border. Mexican vendors are just like those in China: though they’ve never set eyes on you before, you are immediately their best friend. And, just like in China, bargaining is expected. My husband now has an international cane collection, having added a highly decorative one to the intricately carved ones he’s bought in China. The seller originally wanted $30 for the cane, but he paid $10; I think he could have gotten it for less than that, but he was happy with the price.

Are you going to China?

 If a trip to China is in your future, check out Cheryl’sChina for tips and recommendations. And feel free to email me if you have questions about traveling in China.