Day 1: Piety Lasts Longer. This journey begins in Guangzhou. If you need advice or assistance getting to Guangzhou then please contact us. We focus on the ancient sites today which all tend to be religious in nature. Secular sites, it seems, just can't survive the ages. Our first visit is to one of the oldest: the Bright Filial Piety Temple. The temple achieved elevated status when one of its monks, Hui Neng, became Master of Chan (Zen) Buddhism back in the 7th century.
His "Ancestor Hall", the Mahavira Hall and the two iron towers are wonderful examples of devotional architecture. The Six Banyan Tower gives its name to our next temple stop. This tower was built to house Buddhist relics and is well worth climbing for views down and out. In the afternoon we will visit Lianhua Shan Lotus Hill a series of red-sandstone outcrops quarried from time immemorial. We will tour the cliffs to get the very best views. Meals: lunch, dinner.
Day 2: Multi-storey Fortresses. Kaiping City is the centre of a strange phenomenon: Diaolou. Diaolou are unique. They are tall, defensive structures though often delightfully decorative. The resulting towers are attractive yet functional: where function means not just living but keeping oneself and one's property safe from the unfriendly neighbors. We spend the day driving around various towns in the area to take a look at these strange structures and to hear more about their history. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 3: Dead and Buried: but not forgotten. On this last day we visit two important sites: the Nanyue King's Tomb is from the period just BCE. The Nanyue kingdom was a tributary state of the Western Han Dynasty and a wealthy one if this tomb is anything to go by. The exhibition is pretty much in situp and contains a huge array of burial items. The corpse was wrapped in a very impressive jade suit that is, unusually, held together with silk cords. Elephant tusks and Frankincense are evidence enough that Guangzhou was already an important trading center.
Our last stop is the Chen Ancestral Hall, a place where the members of this clan would offer up sacrifices to their predecessors. The Hall only dates back to the Qing Dynasty (the last) when one of the clan achieved third highest rank in the Imperial Examinations, gained a high government position and therefore became fabulously wealthy.
Note: The day's activities are planned to end mid-afternoon. You can therefore plan to continue your travels this evening. If you want to stay in the city for a bit longer to do your own thing then you can easily book extra nights at the same hotel with us.
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