Friday, January 9, 2015

Hangin' in Hangzhou!

A day full of firsts.  First “eastern” buffet breakfast for the group with lots of
interesting items to explore and first reports of sleeping habits following a long day of travel…..all in all, this group did well, and managed to look awake and ready to go!

Hangzhou is renowned in medieval China as an earthly paradise and it became the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty between 1138 and 1279.  The city was extolled by Marco Polo who called it “the City of Heaven – the most magnificent of all the world!”  With West Lake at it’s heart, the city is beautiful in many ways, and surrounded by low mountains, streets lined with sycamore trees and the Grand Canal which flows from here to Shanghai. Hangzhou is known today as the "Honeymoon City of China" as it is a very popular destination location for recently married persons.

The Augustana Band at the entrance to the Confucius Temple, Hangzhou.
Our first stop this morning was at the Confucious Temple.  In history of Hangzhou, the Confucius Temple is an important historical landmark. It is also the study center or the classroom of Chinese traditional literature and ancient history. There are six main features at the Confucius Temple: Dacheng Hall, Painting of Confucius’ 72 Leading Disciples, Steles (slate tablets) of Confucianism, Steles of Emperor’s Handwriting, Portrait Stones of 16 Arhats, and Drawings of Confucius’ Saint Deeds. “Dacheng Hall, the main building of Confucius Temple, is the major venue to hold memorial ceremonies for the worship of Confucius. The hall is a wooded
Interior at Confucius Temple.
structure of the Qing Dynasty and gable hip roofed by multiple eaves. Bright and vivid, the numerous decorative paintings found on the ceilings and beams are remains from the last Qing Dynasty, which are rare artistic treasures in ancient times of Hangzhou.Though the main building and some of the other structures were recently rebuilt, the original paintings are truly a treasure and the Steles (Slates) and Portrait Stones of 16 Arhats are impressive with beautiful calligraphy.   The sun was shining which made our time here all the more special!
Enjoying the sun at the Confucius Temple.

Of course we are a curious bunch to young Chinese kids....
but they are absolutely adorable and impossible not to take
pictures of......if you ask their parents first, of course!

Maddie and Becca peering across the courtyard at the museum.
Our next stop was the Hu Qingyu Tang Museum of Chinese Medicine, a stop especially enjoyed by our science and health majors.  Housed in a beautiful an ancient apothecary shop, it was established during the Qing Dynasty and traces the history of Chinese medicine which goes back thousands of years.  They still compound and are an active dispensary and pharmacy featuring roots, ginseng, various mushrooms, animal parts, and a very special box of dried beetles which cost more than $10,000 USD.  (Not sure what they are for, but since we didn’t have that kind of money between us, we didn’t ask!)  J

It's ME.  It's ME!
Off to a delicious lunch where we celebrated no less than FIVE birthdays and then to the Hangzhou Theatre for rehearsal in preparation of our evening concert.  As we pulled into the street adjacent to the theatre, Dr. Schilf exclaimed, “Oh my – look at how BIG I am!”  He was referring to the supersized sign overhead announcing the concert at 7:30 p.m.  While he’s not a Times Square model, it certainly was impressive!

Dinner was fit in between rehearsal and our evening concert attended by more than 750 local citizens.  The Band played well,  (especially considering the fact that it’s the first concert abroad) and were very well received by an admiring crowd.  One standing ovation and two encores and we were calling it a successful evening!

Tomorrow – time to climb Tea Mountain and head back to Shanghai!

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