As part of my attempts to get back into more regular blogging, I’ve decided to set up a schedule for myself. Every weekend from here on in, you will be able to look forward to a post about my adventures in China.
Consider it my contribution to your lazy weekend reads!
Qufu – A Most Pleasant Surprise
If there was one place that turned my expectations of China on their head, it was Qufu (pronounced choo-foo).
Located in Shandong Province and with an urban population of approximately 60,000, Qufu would be the smallest place we would visit during our voyages. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that had it not been for the Husband’s Masters program, we would have never found our way to Qufu.
And that my friends, would have been a huge miss.
Going into this trip, and being the massive over planner that I am, I googled every single one of our destinations. And while I found a lot of information about every other site, I found next to nothing about the small city of Qufu.
Of course, the lack of information only helped to make me all the more nervous. Just how small was this place? Would we be the only tourists there? How would my peanut allergic self manage in the city? I was, truth be told, unnecessarily full of nerves.
In reality, Qufu is a small ancient city that is famous for being both the birth and death place of Confucius. Indeed, the Kong family sites (Kong was Confucius’ last name) are incredibly popular and well preserved locales that form the center piece of the region.
Upon our arrival at the train station we came to understand that we were in for a treat. The locals were so friendly (truly living up to the reputation of Shandong Province), the streets were so clean, the city was so quaint, and everything seemed borderline festive. Frankly, our taxi driver must have thought we were a bit nuts because we kept on clapping with childish glee and exclaiming, “THIS is China!!!”
Needless to say, we couldn’t wait to start exploring!!!
Our First Afternoon
By the time we arrived in Qufu that first day, it was mid-afternoon. We were starving, and so we checked into our hotel and quickly headed out to explore the inner walls of the fortified city in the hunt for some food.
We had read ahead of time about a particularly delicious Muslim restaurant, and although we never did find it we were lured into a nearby establishment by a friendly family willing to serve us lunch. We did a bit of pointing at our guidebook (I think we pointed at the characters for meat, and rice – HA!), I flashed them my please don’t kill me by feeding me peanuts card, and we were off to the races.
That’s when our dishes arrived . . .
This pictures is for everyone who has ever been afraid of hygiene standards in foreign countries (Hi Mom!!). Pretty well everywhere we traveled in Shandong, our cutlery and plates were delivered to us shrink-wrapped in saran wrap. That’s because the dishes are sent off site to be disinfected and then presented to diners in a pristine state. Ingenious, I tell you!
Sorry about the lack of the pictures of the food, it was delicious, and we absolutely devoured it! Actually I do have to add that about Qufu – the food there was outstanding!!!! That’s why you can expect a food post in the near future!
After our lunch, we wandered around the city some more and happily explored sites that were at once familiar, and entirely new to us. Along the way, we also discovered that the local people didn’t quite know what to make of me. This came as a bit of a surprise because I’m not white, fair skinned, or blonde – and yet that seemed to make all the difference. If I had to describe the reactions of the locals, I would say that it was as though they didn’t know what to make of my not quite Chinese, and yet not quite white features. On that first afternoon, I even had one elderly gentleman stand with his mouth agape, and turn on the spot while I walked past him. HA!
After a couple of hours wandering around the city, we bought some buns for our next breakfast, and headed back to the Queli Hotel (above) to call it an early night.
Although I didn’t know it then, our week in Qufu would prove to me why it’s so important to wander further afield on voyages abroad. Sure the great cities of the world are indeed impressive but there’s a lot to be said for quiet locales that allow you and the locales more of an opportunity to interact with one another.
I’m sure it’s plain to see that we loved our time Qufu, and I can’t wait to share more of it with you!
Question: When you travel do you prefer to stick to big cities or do you wander to smaller locales too?