October 8th, 1999
Maybe I should have realised there would only have been hot water at night, but it’s all part of the learning and experience process. Oh well, a daily shower isn’t imperative. I was up quite early and at the Confucius Temple by 9:30. There I met ‘Auger’ (apologies for spelling) from Geneva Switzerland. We spent the day together wandering around the sights of Qufu. The temple was large, but not as impressive as it could have been. Many of the pavilions were the same or similar to one another and considering the 35Y entrance fee and the scores of other tourists could have been in better condition. The sheer size was the most striking as well as the intricate carvings. A Chinese traditional dance was laid on for us with colourful drums and horns. The costumes, like the surroundings were very intricate and colourful and again I wished I had a camera.
Then we found the much smaller Temple of Zhougong where the paintings and woodcarvings were just as impressive and perhaps more so because it was free to enter and we were the only people there, bar a lone old man sweeping the paths. The neighbourhood surrounding this Temple was also very traditional and quaint with mounds of drying yellow corn lying everywhere there was space. After hiking the back way across ploughed fields towards the Confucius Temple, we once again found our way back on the tourist trail with the annoying trinket vendors and Chinese tour groups with their yellow caps. The park was immense, with some impressive tombs ‘presumably Confucius’ as well other burial mounds. Finished the trip back in town with a local beer by the water, and a chat about the attitude of the Chinese towards rubbish and recycling – or rather lack of it, which was sparked by a fire on the opposite river bank. Then pessimistic Auger got me worried by pointing out I had no idea of the train times nor have a ticket. I wanted to hang around for dinner but was persuaded to get over to the train station and arrange my onward travel by sleeper train to Beijing. I took a pillion ride on a motorcycle for RMB10 to the train station in Yanzhou (30 mins) and managed to buy a hard seat ticket at 9:50 for RMB92. Ate a nice meal at the stalls opposite the station while waiting and then missed the train because I fell asleep waiting at the wrong gate. I had to wait another two hours for the next train. I had no seat reserved on this train and so endured a frequently interrupted sleep to Beijing sat on the floor by the door. Just as I got comfortable in one doorway, we would arrive at another station and the guard would come along and move me to the other side so he could open the door!