personal note: I decided to share my book with friends and students in main China because it costs too much to order one from Amazon.com Enjoy it and share it with people you care and love. Peace, Steve, USA July 2, 2019 email@example.com blog – https://getting2knowyou-china.com
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I will soon be in Wenzhou, a name which means in Chinese, “a mild and pleasant land”, deriving its name from its climate, neither extremely cold in the winters, nor extremely hot in the summers. If it is true, I should live here. Because this reminds me of Washington State. To be honest, since I came to live and work in Xiamen, a place like many other places in China, which has extreme heat in summers but is mild in the winters. Because I am “allergic” to heat (heat sensitive), born this way, I had tried to find a place that does not have extreme heat and high humidity in summers. That was why I had two air-conditioners in my one-bedroom apartment outside the campus. My students told me about some cool-weather places to spend my holidays. I had the privilege of spending some time in Yunnan Province. True, I was there during a hot summer and the weather was perfect for me. I was in the famous town Pu’er, Yunnan, known for its famous Pu’er tea in China. It is no secret many foreigners do spend their summers in Yunnan Province. My search also took me to the famous Lushan near Nanchang, where Chairman Mao would hold important meetings with his men to decide the future of China.
It was a Monday when I arrived at Wenzhou train station and Bob had to work that day. But he came with his new VW car, like the one Jady was driving in Nanchang. Bob told me the train station had only one exit. One exit? I had gone through a few train stations and they have east-west-north-south exits. Big multi-story train stations with passengers going through from different parts of China. Only one exit in Wenzhou? That made it easy for me and Bob would be waiting outside with his car. He had parked his new car outside the train station at a curb waiting for me.
His parents had bought him a new car because he was living at home and it would take a while each day to go to work. And the car would be a convenient transportation for him. How very lucky to drive his own car, I thought. I did say something to him about the train station while he was driving me to my hotel. It has only one floor, I said. I was expecting a gigantic multi-story train station because of the importance of Wenzhou. What happened? Bob mumbled. But I would discover many things about Wenzhou during my happy sojourn in the city.
The route to my hotel, in the center of the city, was congested with many kinds of vehicles, but I disliked the fact Bob was not following one lane, and instead he would do, like many other impatient and careless drivers, changing from lane to lane hoping to get ahead. And there was frequent honking, as if saying just move over because my car is coming. Honking is everywhere in China. Imagine sleeping in an apartment
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along major city streets in China with honking going on 26 hours a day. Noise pollution is now everywhere.
Most taxis in Xiamen would do that…I mean constantly changing lanes…and it would make me very nervous that we might have accidents or collisions with other cars or people in Xiamen. I had seen people in Xiamen, just as reckless like the cars, running across a heavyily trafficked lane, at times, slowing down the cars. Surprising jaywalking was a favorite illegal activity in China with few pedestrians dead. Why? Because many drivers tried to avoid hitting them as they ran across a busy street. This is China. Not so in America. Americans drive carefully and do not change lanes like the crazy insane Chinese. In England, like in America, pedestrians observe strictly the crossing signs. I was there in England to visit my sister, a British citizen, and everywhere the crossing signs were painted clear and bright on the streets. I was tempted to beat the traffic, at times. Not so in China. There are not many crossing signs along busy streets. Not to my knowledge. Most times I would see old and young people, men and women, not many children, running across a busy lane or street. There are overpasses here and there but there are too few and too far apart. And so ordinary people continue to risk their lives running across busy streets in town. I would be watching them nervously inside a moving vehicle. No small wonder, China is number one in the world for car accidents and collisions besides the fact most luxury cars today in the world are being sold in China. That is partly one reason I would prefer to walk and use the public transit system or transportation in China: easy, convenient and cheap. This is China.
I was introduced to a very important man in Wenzhou as we were driving to my hotel: the man who founded the city. His name is Guo Pu and I saw the statue of Guo Pu in downtown Wenzhou. Wenzhou is the only city in China designed by Guo Pu, the man who founded Feng Shui. To the local Wenzhounese people, Guo Pu was the architect and founder of the city. In 2003, the local Wenzhou government built this statute of Guo Pu to honor him. The city is usually considered the city in China with the best Feng Shui in place. Today people from all over China believe the many outstanding achievements and influence of Wenzhou are the result of Feng Shui development by Guo Pu. “People of Excellence and Land of Wisdom”, is the way people in China would describe the Wenzhounese people and the city: the people of excellence and the city of wisdom.
It is true Wenzhou is located in the extreme southeast of Zheijiang Province, in a mountainous region, and has been isolated for most of its history from the rest of China. So much so its people are more independent, self-reliant and family oriented. So much so it is said the local culture and language are distinct from neighboring
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areas and the rest of China. So much so the Chinese central government has left the city relatively autonomous. It is also said many Wenzhounese emigrants are entrepreneurs, whether in wholesale businesses or retail or restaurants, in their adopted countries like the United States and Europe. Throughout its history, Wenzhou’s traditional role has been a prosperous treaty port providing access to the mountainous interior of southern Zheijiang Province.
So what is Feng Shui? Feng Shui, literally translates as “wind-water” in English, is closely linked to Taoism or Daoism in China. In Chinese culture, wind and water are associated with good health. So good Feng Shui means good fortune, and bad Feng Shui means misfortune or back luck. Like many other old traditional Chinese thinking, it was banned or suppressed in China during the Cultural Revolution. It is a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing everything and everyone with the surrounding environment. Historically, it was used widely to orient certain structures, like tombs and buildings, allowing chi or invisible energy to bind humanity, earth and the universe together. Taoism teaches that nature and land is alive and filled with chi or energy. Feng Shui teaches you how to balance the energies of any given space to assure good fortune and health for people living in it.
To understand the importance of the use and popularity of Feng Shui, Hong Kong is the place to go. Hong Kong is blessed with good Feng Shui. It faces the ocean and is protected by high mountains behind and across from it. Since ancient times, Chinese believe dragons live in the mountains and they have powerful energy. And this energy flows through the city of Hong Kong daily as the dragons descend from the mountains to the sea to bathe and drink. And so builders and architects are careful not to create any obstacles for the dragons and the energy to flow through the city. And so this would explain the “dragon holes”, or gaping holes in buildings, to allow the dragons and the positive energy to flow unimpeded through the city to the waters. Creating these gaping holes, though costly, would ensure good Feng Shui for the city of Hong Kong.
Long ago when I first visited Hong Kong from Singapore, I told many of my friends about the many graves in Hong Kong on mountain sides facing the waters, on land that would be considered most desirable prime real estate property in any part of the world. Visit the United States and you will find expensive opulent mansions or villas hugging the mountain sides. You can see them around Los Angeles or San Francisco. The poor or the dead do not live there. I asked then, why would the dead need to enjoy a good view of the open seas? During my first visit to Hong Kong, I didn’t know anything about Feng Shui then. Where and how to build a structure, a tomb or a building, that is the purpose of Feng Shui to ensure the harmony of man and his
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environment and the flow of chi. The dead as well as the living deserve exposure to chi to allow good fortune to come to them. This is China, and the practices and manifestations of Feng Shui are everywhere you care to look.
After all, traditional Chinese believe the dead are not dead at all: if only you would try to witness the offerings of foods and sacrifices during Qingming holiday (Tomb Sweeping Day) at elaborate family altars or at family tombs, or empty seats at the tables during the most important Chinese New Year Eve’s family meal. Traditional Chinese believe the spirits or ghosts of unhappy, mistreated or neglected close relatives—parents or grandparents—will freely roam the earth to harm you. This is China. When I was small growing up in a farming village in Malaya, my parents would always warn me not to pee anywhere in the woods so as not to anger the evil spirits. Because they, like many other traditional Chinese, believed spirits are everywhere around us: the good and the bad. Historically, Feng Shui was used to ensure strict burial rituals to make sure the dead would continue to enjoy good fortune after death.
This is China.