At 8:45 a.m., our group checks out of the Qufu Shangri La hotel. It was blisteringly hot even though our guide Kevin assured us that the temperature would be below average due to the rain from days beforehand. It was 25 degrees Celsius with over 90% humidity. This made it feel like 37 degrees – still too hot for Canadians!
It took us 90 minutes to reach the Lord Meng Chang Mausoleum. During the ride there, Kevin surprised us with an interesting fact: when you buy a home in China you pay a large sum to only rent it for 70 years from the government. No wonder so much wealth flows overseas into the US and Canada.
At 11:00 a.m., we arrived at the mausoleum. A small gathering of officials, photographers and caretakers greeted us at the entrance. Inside the mausoleum, the caretakers led us to Lord Mon Sheong’s grave which was two large tombstones around an incense table offering plenty of fresh fruits and crackers. As a group, we lined up and bowed three times to the grave. As the rain came pouring down, we stood on the steps for a photo of the mausoleum.
Before we left, everyone in the group was gifted with a calligraphy scroll on which our names were incorporated into a four-word idiom. We were also invited to write our own name in calligraphy. My personalized scroll read fortune and happiness. It sounded like a fortune cookie.
The rain grew heavier as we headed back to the bus to go for lunch with the Qufu government officials. During lunch, the government officials engaged in small talk. Even though none of us were able to hold a long conversation in Mandarin, the officials were very patient with us. When asked if China or Canada was more beautiful, we answered Canada was more beautiful thinking we were asked where we’re from (haha). Thankfully Kevin was seated at our table to help us translate.
At 6:30 p.m., we arrived at the Four Points Sheraton Tai’an for dinner. It was a beautiful hotel with a market plaza close by. We were led to a private room on the first floor of the hotel where dinner was served. Most of the dishes are traditional ones we’ve already enjoyed in the past week.
Tomorrow, we will be hosted by Shandong’s Chinese foreign affairs government officials. I am looking forward to seeing what everyone will wear.
Author: Andrew He