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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Laoshan, at Taiqing Gong Temple

After seeing the Laoshan coast we head to the Taiqing Gong temple which is not far from the beach on the southern slope of this mountain. Between the temple and the beach there is a large square, the name of which is Taiqing Square of course, which is also a stop for buses to go up and down the mountain. At the sides of the Square there are food stalls and there are also ice cream sellers, there we tried for the first time an Ice Cream wafer from Russia, it tastes so good, with a thick milk taste. 

Taiqing Gong is the oldest and largest Taoist temple in Laoshan Mountain, it is simple, ancient and solemn. According to legend, its founder, Zhang Lianfu, wandered to Laoshan Mountain in 140 BC, and found a serene spot under Laojun Peak.  He chose to build a secluded temple at this location, and gave the disciples to worship, laying the foundation of Taoism in Laoshan. Due to its long affiliation with Taoism it is often regarded as one of the “cradles of Taoism”. 

Qing Dynasty writer Pu Songling visited Laoshan Mountain in 1672, and lived in the Taiqing Gong temple, but he couldn't afford to live in the wing because of poverty. He could only lay the floor at night. When writing, he used a wooden board as a desk. The candlelight on the table at night was the best lighting. Pu Songling only visited the two famous mountains of Taishan and Laoshan in his life, but two visits to Laoshan have left a story of the ages.  One of his classical stories is ‘The Taoist Priest of Laoshan’ reflects the mysteries and magical practice adapted by the Taoist priests there.  A wall which is said to be the prototype of the wall the Taoist passes through (in magical way) in Pu Songling's novel is still visible in Taiqing Palace. 

Taoism (also known as Daoism) is a Chinese philosophy attributed to Lao Tzu (c. 500 BCE), it emphasizes doing what is natural and "going with the flow" a cosmic force which flows through all things and binds and releases them. This flow of harmony is called Tao, or “the way.” In the 81 poetic verses that make up the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu outlined the Tao for individual lives as well as leaders and ways of governance. The philosophy grew from an observance of the natural world, and the religion developed out of a belief in cosmic balance maintained and regulated by the Tao. The original belief may or may not have included practices such as ancestor and spirit worship but both of these principles are observed by many Taoists today and have been for centuries. 

Following 108 stair steps, under the Laojun Peak, stands a huge statue of Lao Tzu. Its height is 36 meters and width 28 meters at the base. The statue was built according to the painting of Lao Tzu by the famous painter Wu Daozi in the Tang Dynasty period. Lao Tzu is pointing to the sky with his left hand and the earth with his right hand, which means "from heaven to earth, there’s only the Tao".





Monday, May 2, 2022

Laoshan Coastal Mountain


I did not expect that in this area of Qingdao, a busy city with many shipyards and factories, there is a tall mountain near the seaside. A green area with forests towering over the shores of the rippling blue sea. This place is a shelter for weary city people, looking for a calm and peaceful atmosphere. 

The mountain is Laoshan, or Mount Lao (since "shan" means mountain), linked with the sea, with the coastal line winding around the mountain with various rocks, islets and bays staggered.  Mountain and Water are the two key features in Fengshui. From its perspective Mountain is static and stable thus associated with power and support, while Water represents flow, dynamic, thus associated with progress. The presence and balance of Mountain and Water make for good feng shui, and are ideal features for a country. 

Overlooking the sea, the mountain is characterized by imposing canyons, undulating peaks and shrouding mists. With a peak of over 1000 meters Laoshan Mountain is the highest mountain along China’s coastline. With a view not only on the sea to the east and on the land to the west, but also on beautiful Jiaozhou Bay to the southwest it explains the honorable name “No. 1 Coastal Mountain” given to Mount Laoshan. 

Mount Laoshan consists of numerous mountains, including Mount Fu, Mount Zao'er, Mount Shuangfeng, Mount Dading, and Mount Taizi, and it is home to 13 bays and coves, dotted with 18 islets.

It is also known for its ancient trees, its crystal-clear springs, odd=shaped boulders and rock outcroppings. Among the smooth boulders and stone outcropping farther up the mountain grow densely packed pine trees, and in the few green clearings where trees do not grow, sprout seas of flowers that blossom in a myriad of colors each spring and early summer.