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NZCFS Tour: NZ Heroes in China – discover China anew! October 2023

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Xian at night
Xian at night.

The focus on Rewi Alley and  Kathleen Hall in this tour has established the itinerary. It also captures for us the dramatic changes and development that China has undergone, through their lives and experiences almost 100 years ago to the achievements of the last 30-40 years to today. Included are some famous sites (Great Wall, Terracotta Soldiers) and some less visited  sites (Wolf Tooth Mountain, Peking Man site) that fit into an efficient but full programme.

For more detail go to NZCFS NZ Heroes in China Tour and NZCFS NZ Heroes in China Tour PDF

This promotion for the tour focuses on some of the other activities in this diverse itinerary. Specialist food of the region is always a feature of NZCFS Tours. Special sites include three UNESCO Heritage sites in Shanxi Province. See below for more details.

Three Unesco Cultural Heritage Sites, all different and unique.

The Xuankong Hanging Temple of Hengshan.

The Xuankong Hanging Temple of Hengshan.
The Xuankong Hanging Temple of Hengshan.

  In 2010, Time Magazine revealed the world’s top 10 most precarious buildings, and on a list that included the Abu Dhabi Skyscraper and the Meteora Monasteries of Greece was the “Hanging Temple” of China. A great architectural feat in Chinese history, the gravity-defying monastery has remained wonderfully intact for over 1,500 years. For more pictures of this ancient architectural wonder of the world, click here.

But to be there is to climb the steps and walk through the different temple rooms to enjoy the well preserved statues and frescoes inside

Clinging precariously to Mount Hengshan’s cliff face, in Datong in Shanxi Province at 75 meters above the ground, a cluster of wooden buildings embedded in the rock face hangs like an ancient Chinese castle suspended in the sky. Surrounded by massive boulders that overlook a deep gorge below, the “Hanging Temple” in Hengshan is one of China’s most formidable ancient wonders and premier tourist hotspots.

The Hanging Temple is the only remaining building in China that accommodates the combined worship of Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. At its highest peak is the main hall, the “Sanjiao Temple,” with a Sakyamuni Buddha sitting in the center, Confucius on the left, and a Taoist sovereign on the right. Many statues of varying materials can be found in the monastery, marking different reigns of Chinese dynasties that once occupied the temple.

The temple’s unique structural form was built using 27 excellent hemlocks pinned to the cliffside through chiseled holes, while the main support is fixed deep in the bedrock. There are 40 rooms throughout the building interconnected by a maze of passageways and pillars. The precarious altitude of this religious site and its ingenious architectural design have made the Hanging Temple a popular tourist spot.

One of the greatest wonders surrounding the temple is its unbelievably well-preserved condition over the centuries, revealing the sheer ingenuity of its builders. Not only had the location been chosen for its seclusion and serenity, but the rocky outcrop on which the temple is embedded also provided the buildings with natural protection from the sun, winds, rain, and snow. The lofty height was also effective in minimizing damage from floods.

Datong – Yungang Grottoes

Yungang grottoes
Yungang grottoes

The massive Yungang Buddhist grottoes were cut from the mid-5th Century to early-6th Century AD.  Comprising 252 caves and niches and 51,000 statues within a carved area of 18,000 square meters, the Yungang Grottoes represent the outstanding achievement of Buddhist cave art in China. The Five Caves created by Tan Yao design. The will of the State is reflected in Buddhist belief in China during the Northern Wei Dynasty since the Grottoes were built with Imperial instructions.

While influenced by Buddhist cave art from South and Central Asia, Yungang Grottoes have also interpreted the Buddhist cave art with distinctive Chinese character and local spirit. As a result, Yungang Grottoes have played a vitally important role among early Oriental Buddhist grottoes and had a far-reaching impact on Buddhist cave art in China and East Asia.

After the seat of the Emperor moved to Henan Luoyang, the art style and history  of Buddhist art moved to there, where it is further represented in the Longmen Grottoes.

In Datong, we will also see the extensive and newly built City Wall, and old style buildings. Old, but new, still an impressive recreation of the time when Datong took its turn to be Imperial Capital in the Northern Wei dynasty, around 400 AD.

For more detail and photos click here

Ancient City of Ping Yao

Ancient city of Ping Yaos
Ancient city of Ping Yao

Ping Yao is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a traditional Han Chinese city, founded in the 14th century. Its urban fabric shows the evolution of architectural styles and town planning in Imperial China over five centuries. Of special interest are the imposing buildings associated with banking, for which Ping Yao was the major centre for the whole of China in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

For more details visit here

For more images click here

These images do not present a true feeling of the commerce and government of the day. We are free to roam the streets and narrow avenues to visit the key sites of China’s first bank, government building, temples, and a range of shops still offering their traditional wares, as well as some modern samples to buy and try.

A special bonus is, at night, to attend Zhang Yimou’s “Encore Pingyao” show for an impactful presentation of life in old Pingyao when it served as a commercial outpost for Beijing. In particular follow the lives and families of those young men who often spent over two years away from home, escorting money and goods in caravans far to the west. The audience mingles with the street activity, as we moves from stage to stage for a great sense of participation.

For more detail and expression of interest go here. We look forward to hearing from you!

Snapshots of previous NZCFS tours