Tangyue Memorial Archways
It is a beautiful morning in Huangshan as I take a short walk along the river. The city is teeming with activity as cars, trucks, and buses cross the bridge over the river. There are several people on the opposite bank that are doing laundry or fishing. After my walk I return to my room to prepare for the day and visit the restaurant for breakfast. It is a buffet of Chinese and Western type foods. I target the fresh fruit (oranges and pears), scrambled eggs, and toast. A glass of orange juice and a cup of hot tea complete my breakfast meal. I join a group of German tourists at a large table. They are here on a very short visit, flying in yesterday and departing later today. They went up on the mountain yesterday and then visited a farm before checking into the hotel for the evening. Today they will visit one of the ancient villages before flying on to Shanghai. They are traveling together as a group but did not know each other before the trip. All their arrangements have been made by a German and Chinese tour operator.
I complete a bit of work via the Internet quickly before departing for a full day of activity. Mr. and Mrs. Wang and Christine meet me in the lobby of the hotel and we depart for a visit to the Tangyue Memorial Archways. When we arrive at the tourist site, Mr. Wang parks the car near two women who appear to be preparing some food from the field. We are greeted at the entrance by a friend of Mr. Wang and guided to the site. The 7 archways were erected to honor individuals who were recognized by the Emperor during the Qing and Ming Dynasties. The individuals were recognized for their righteousness, generosity, familiar loyalty, and charitable efforts. This is the largest collection of archways in China. There is a temple with stones recognizing the men of this distinguished family. Next to this building is a temple dedicated to recognize women. The only such temple in China dedicated to women. As we leave the tourist site we stop in the shop of our guide. He gives me a gourd that grows in the area. Don’t worry it has been dried and will not spoil. He sells ink stones, brushes, and other small items. They explain to me that this area is famous for the “She Inkstone,” a required tool in traditional calligraphy). As we return to the car, Mrs. Wang pays the women a few coins for watching over the car.
After our visit to the Tangyue Memorial Archways, we return to the Huangshan International Hotel to meet the Mayor for lunch. We are escorted to a private dining room where we meet Mr. Zhang, Assistant Mayor of Huangshan Municipal Government and Mr. Liu, Director of Huangshan Tourism Committee. We exchange business cards and gifts before sitting down to eat. The server brings me silverware which I quickly refuse but thank her for the courtesy. The food was excellent as expected. I particularly loved the tomato soup which was hearty with large chunks of tomatoes still firm to the bite. There was a root type vegetable and meat dish that was refreshingly light and a steamed fish. A Japanese style tofu dish was rather tasty. I am beginning to develop a taste for Japanese and Huangshan tofu dishes. The meal was completed with several dishes that were similar to last night’s dinner. Of course there were toasts repeatedly throughout the meal. Mr. Zhang toasted me and I replied with a toast to him. Mr. Liu and I exchanged several toasts among toasts among all the remaining guests as well. Every time I started to reach for food a server immediately steps forward to serve me. Yet the others are allowed to serve their own food. This is a demonstration of respect and I am gracious in accepting this without exception. Our discussion is about some of the challenges being faced with transportation and attracting tourists via the web page. I mention what Wang Yu and I are proposing to help Huangshan international tourism grow.
Anhui is one of the poorer provinces in China. It is not for the vast number of agricultural fields that generate a wealth of wheat, rice, corn, sweet potatoes, lotus root, and sugar case. Anhui does have some natural resources such as iron from Ma’anshan, coal from Huainan, and copper from Tongling. Their greatest challenge is the transportation expense limiting the amount of exports from the area. Tourism is the largest source of income for the immediate area, but the greatest contributors to this are the vast numbers of domestic tourists that visit the area. The challenge is reaching larger numbers of international tourists. Several phone calls are made and the Mayor asks me to present Wang Yu and my proposal for an international English based gateway site on Friday to the Huangshan Tourism Committee. Our luncheon concludes with photos and a pledge to work together for the benefit of the community’s economic well being.