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Madison, WI, USA
Last updated 10/2/2012
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Nikki say: “A visit to Qufu is a worthwhile endeavor.”

The day before we climbed Tai Shan, we took a day trip to Qufu. I’m happy to say we managed to go there, get around, and come back all on local buses without much trouble. We’re getting pretty good at this traveling thing! Anyway, Qufu is a small city about an hour away from Tai’An. It’s the hometown of Confucius, the extremely influential Eastern philosopher. I didn’t know this until we were there, but apparently he didn’t get much done during his lifetime. It wasn’t until after his death that his ideas became popular.

When we first got into Qufu, I thought it was just a big tourist trap. The town was very loud and dirty (even for Chinese standards) and the streets were lined with vendors selling all their same-same junk. And to top it off, we had to pay a pretty high entrance fee to get into the Confucius cemetery grounds. (Luckily there was a local woman there selling black market tickets at a slightly lower rate.)

The cemetery ended up being really nice, though. When I say cemetery, don’t picture a Western style one with hundreds of graves in a neat little grid under a manicured lawn. This cemetery is a giant woods with graves poking up randomly between the trees. The gravestones themselves are large slabs, most of them about five feet tall. It was one of the most peaceful places we’ve been in all of China. Yes, there were big tour groups, but the forest is huge, so it’s pretty easy to lose the crowds. Confucius is buried there, along with over 70 generations of his family. Isn’t that incredible? There are graves there that are over 2,000 years old. I don’t even know where my family from five generations ago are buried. I can’t imagine being able to trace my entire family tree in one place. And the cemetery is still being used today, so who knows how many generations will end up there.

We paid our respects to the big man himself, as well as his son and grandson. Then we went for a long, quiet stroll along the paths. Like I said, it was a very peaceful area, and a great place to reflect on life, the universe, and everything. I probably could’ve spent the entire day ambling between the graves, but we didn’t want to miss the last bus back to Tai’An. The other major sites to visit in Qufu are the Kong family mansions. We had to choose between the cemetery and the mansions, and I think we made the right choice, but I would’ve liked to see the mansions as well. We probably should have just spent the night in Qufu instead of doing it as a daytrip. Oh well! At least we were well-rested and ready to go for our hike up Tai Shan.

“I am not one who was born in the possession of knowledge. I am one who is fond of antiquity, and earnest in seeking it there.” –Confucius

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