Yesterday, Kerun said “Right, you’re having a day off. Let’s go to Qingyan!”
So we did!
The origins of the ancient town of Qingyan situated towards the southern outskirts of Guiyang date back to the beginnings of the Ming Dynasty in the 14th century. It was established as a military outpost and has since been preserved as a cultural centre and major Guizhou tourist attraction.
Happy to see that China is still keeping the dream alive for Richard Clayderman and sketchy waxworks (yes, apparently that’s Steve Jobs)…
…we passed through the town’s perimeter walls into the hustle and bustle of the streets within.
We visited the many beautiful and historic wooden pavillion houses with their tranquil courtyards and distinctive Chinese architecture.
We came upon one courtyard full of pomegranate trees covered in brightly-coloured ‘wishing ribbons’. The lion pictured below had been carved to have a free-rolling stone ball in its mouth- amazing! There were ancient friezes around the walls of Taoist temple nearby with the most incredible detail.
(And I can’t express quite how much I wanted to pet this cute little dog curled up by the ticket booth).
We climbed the fortified town wall with the other holidaying visitors…
…and took in the beautiful- and typically forested and mountainous- Guizhou views from the top.
We ate lots of delicious food today- again a really sociable experience. When one person at the table tried to take a piece of the potato patty, for instance, everyone else’s chopsticks dived in to help them pull off a piece to eat- so lovely. And it was fun sampling the street food together too.
Towards the end of the afternoon, we visited two cafe-bookshops in the town, run by Kerun’s friends. And they were gorgeous! There seems to be a lovely bookshop tradition in China- beautifully designed spaces, often in traditional antique wooden buildings, where you can sit and read with a cup of tea or coffee in your hand, and where the atmosphere is supremely tranquil.
One of Kerun’s friends served us tea according to the traditional tea ceremony- a lovely, calm and sociable experience. The way Chinese people value eating and drinking together is fast becoming one of my favourite things about the country.
We talked during our tea drinking about types of tea and methods of preparing it. Kerun’s friend explained that her method of pouring tea into the brewing bowl was taught to her by a tea ceremony master. Rather than pouring the tea from a height and churning up the leaves, she pours gently so as not to disturb the bowl’s contents. There is almost a symbolic or philosophical underpinning to this, she said- like in life, it’s best not to force or agitate, but to let things come naturally. The others talked about people they knew who started each day with a tea ceremony and some guqin playing, a meditative gathering of oneself for the day ahead. We all feel pretty blissed out after two hours in that beautiful courtyard.
A lovely day!