Friday, June 5, 2009

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Day 451
I was up early and packed my things before breakfast. As soon as I had eaten I headed straight out.

I think that everyone has heard of Confucius, but maybe, like me, doesn't know a whole lot about him. I'm not about to tell you either, it's a secret, just kidding. He lived from 551 - 479 BC and had very little impact in his own lifetime, but his family became quite wealthy when his followers published The Analects of Confucius. It wasn't really a religion, but more of a moral code. He taught that son should respect father, wife husband, peasant official and so on. You would think that this would fit in well with China's later Communist bent, but they didn't like old ideas and considered him a feudal educator. He heirs fled the country in 1949.

My first stop was the Confucius forest, the cemetery where he is buried with over 2000 years of his ancestors. It's basically a really pretty park with some statues in it and tombs hiding in the overgrowth. Confucius' tomb was quite plain, I like to think that that is what he would have wanted.

Towards the end of my walk in the forest a terrible thing happened. Long dead Confucian heirs and the stone animals came to life. They saw me and felt hat I was a trespasser. In no time they turned on me, the animals with grating stone growls and the skeletons with bony laughter and wind whistling thru the holes in their skulls. Ok, this might be a bit of an exaggeration. But what did happen is awful. My camera began to die. Every few pictures would just come out white. I love my camera and feel that we have become quite close of the past almost 15 months now. It was a gift from my parents and I had expected us to ring in the New Year in New York this year. With the feeling that I might soon have to say goodbye to a beloved friend I left the forest.

Next up was the Confucian Temple. It was nice but pretty much like all the temples I had seen before so I wasn't much in the mood. Plus, my camera was acting up. When I was moving on to the herretitarial mansion of his heirs a woman offered to sell me a chop (name seal) for 1Y. I made a point of making sure that was all. She asked me my name and then carved it on the bottom. Then she showed me that it was 10Y per letter making it a 71Y purchase. I was livid and refused to pay. She told me I could have it for 10Y in total, but I told her I wanted it for the 1Y she had quoted or not at all. 10Y is about $1.50, but I was angry. She then carved my name in a different seal and said that I could have it for 5Y, I told her I didn't want that one, I only wanted the other one. Eventually I got it for 6Y and walked away.

The mansion were really only ok, very typical looking so I hurried thru. I had also begun to get hungry and wanted some lunch. The place I found didn't have anything in English and I ended up using the words vegetarian and not spicy that someone had written down for me. I eneded up with a place of unidentifiable green gundge. Yummy.

After some more internet hours I bought some snacks for my train ride. I grabbed my things from the hostel and went to the bus station. I needed to go back to Yanzhou, about 20 minutes away. Despite the fact that I arrived at the bus station 2 hours before my train was meant to depart I made it with just 10 minutes to spare. That was the slowest moving bus in the history of the world.

I fell asleep quickly on the train.

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