Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Quanzhou is a medium-sized city in Fujian Province, a historic port city that Marco Polo once raved about as the largest port city in the world. I like all the temples and religious buildings and whatnot, and actually visiting this city was my impetus for the larger trip. While it was a nice enough city, I'll admit it was perhaps the low point of my trip to Fujian.

But I'll start by saying: yes, there really are a lot of old temples and shrines scattered here and about. Many of them still seem in use, not just a tourist draw the way temples can feel in Beijing or Shanghai. Here's the largest and most famous, Kaiyuan Temple:

But really just walking down the street, it was possible to come across active shrines and temples. I didn't go on a big day for Buddhism, but the Guandi Temple was quite active, and even on the sidewalk people stopped to burn incense. There were prayer pillows just sitting around on the sidewalk, for people to kneel in prayer. I wish I had gotten a better picture of it:

And a little out of the way was Chongfu Temple, an interesting modern neighborhood temple with a beautiful grounds, and a lot of Buddhist monks busily going about their business:

Additionally, there were a few other religions represented: the world's sole remaining (crypto) Manichean Temple is located in a village nearby, UNESCO sponsored a very interesting paper about it. There's also the remains of the Qingjing Mosque from a thousand years ago:

It wasn't all old churches, of course, and Quanzhou has several long streets, filled with shops and restaurants. It's not nearly as vertical as with larger cities, though: most of the shops were kept to a single floor. It all had a lot more character than one might expect: here's a shop that sells only red dresses:

And here's a side-street full of restaurants, this one's sign offers lamb, goose, and dog meat. But all I saw was roast chicken:

While there wasn't much in terms of nightlife, I did see a really cool take on DDR, the rhythm-based video game. It was hooked up to a real drum set! This girl was good, from a distance I thought I was hearing some rock band, playing in a club:

Anyway, these shopping streets are very, very long. I walked them back and forth a few times, and got so tired! In addition to taxis, there were also a large number of pedi-cabs. It seems Chinese-y, I guess, but it's the first time I've seen them in a way that wasn't entirely directed at tourists.

And continuing on with my earlier discussions on xiaolongbao, I ordered the local variety, and it was one of the strangest versions I've ever had. The dough on the outside was thick and mealy, tasting more like wheat bread. The meat filling was hearty and rich, and the dipping sauce was a hot-sauce, rather than vinegar. I like it, but it was really stretching to call it xiaolongbao! Most people ordered it with a broth that had some peanuts added.

No comments: