Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tianhou Palace

So I got invited to go somewhere with someone and do something last Sunday.

Sorry, was that sentence a little vague? That's because that is basically all the information I had, and I figured it was enough for me to say "sure, why not."

I asked if Josh could come along since I figured they'd actually appreciate another foreign English speaker and he had nothing to do that day anyway.

It turned out to be an absolute blast of a trip out to a southern district of Guangzhou called Nansha with the wise-headmaster of one of my schools (as seen that night with the sailors...hah), her husband, and her daughter, Jasmine (that's her English name, and she's 16 years old but mentally 20 or so. I'm not even kidding, she had an incredibly well-developed intellect).

I doubt I'll be able to adequately explain the trip, but that's mostly because I still don't quite understand everything; but it was all fantastic!

The walk in to the park with the temple.

A map with some specific information as to our location.

First temple sighting - Jasmine wondered [out loud] why I bothered taking a picture here but I don't think she quite understood how excited I was to finally go to a place like this.

A view out to the sea to the South / South-East. I think this is in the general direction of Hong Kong.

This picture's going to be fun to explain: behold, the turtle pond

The Chinese believe that if you release your pet turtle in to the wild, or in this case, a turtle pond, you will receive good luck. This was an enclosure with no steps or anything to get down there, so I asked Jasmine how exactly people "released" their turtles here. 

Me: " they just toss 'em in and hope they hit the water...?"

Well, do you see that silver ramp to the side of that picture? Oh yes. That's exactly what you think it is. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the turtle slide.

Turtle statue in the center, turtle slide to the left. If you toss a coin in to this guy's mouth, you get good luck. After failing at that, Jasmine informed us that you can actually land it anywhere on the statue and still receive good luck.

That is so cool!

Me: "Firecrackers!" Jasmine: "Oh yeah, they'll light them later." Me: "That guy's walking toward it with a lit cigarette in his hand...I think he's...yep...he's lighting it with his cigarette. That guy's cool." 

Then he ran like hell.

...probably a good idea.

I missed the grand finale, where the box on top explodes; I didn't expect that...I thought it was just a box.

The wishing tree! You buy a piece of paper attached to a ball, write your wish(es) on it, then toss it into the tree somewhere. However, according to Jasmine, you're making a commitment here, because if your wishes come true the tree expects you to come back and thank it, or else it takes away whatever it gave you. I'm okay with that.

Jasmine and Josh writing out their wishes, with my backpack being a jerk and blocking the shot.

I had a few questions for Jasmine regarding the rules of the wishes (jokingly): "Does the tree understand English? Does spelling count? If you throw it higher, are your wishes more or less likely to be granted? If the tree grants some but not all of your wishes, do you still have to come back?"

Mine's the one that is barely holding on to the tree. If my wishes aren't granted, I'm going to assume it's because it fell out...

So many stairs but well worth the view.

Back down at the beach. Apparently the Chinese translation of "BBQ" is "BBQ." Also, take note of this picture: hot dogs, corn, chicken wings. Are you sure we're still in China?

Lunch at a small brewery restaurant nearby; it was amazing and one of the best lunches that I've had!

Taking a ferry across the Pearl River later that day.

Josh and Jasmine looking confused and/or concerned for some reason.

I'm not sure why I took so many pictures of the ferry ride...I think it's because I fell asleep in the car and awoke on a boat, so I was excited.

We ended up at an old naval academy that seems to be a popular tourist site for locals interested in Chinese military history, but not so interesting for foreigners.

Later, we went to Jasmine's father's friend's house for a snack. He does Chinese calligraphy (awesome!).

Colorful buildings as we head back to my side of the river.

Sorry for the lack of pictures of the family and us as a group, but it's really because we took all the group photos with the family's camera and Josh's camera, so I didn't want to toss my camera into the mess when I can just get the pictures later from whomever; I'll be sure to post them when I get them.

All in all, a really fantastic day out.


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