Talking about Sung Dynasty Philosophy

July 23, 2013

China may be the only ancient culture that survived the spread of Islam and Christianity and managed to keep its unique identity. The following passage comes from My Splendid Concubine’s 3rd edition. My first novel has picked up fifteen literary awards. In the novel, Guan-jiah is Robert Hart’s servant.

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“Guan-jiah,” Robert said, “before I came to China I read The Travels of Marco Polo. Do you know who he was?”

“No, Master,” Guan-jiah replied.

“He came to China from Europe more than six hundred years ago and served under Kublai Khan during the Yuan Dynasty. Polo wrote that Hangzhou was the finest and noblest city in the world.”

“Hangzhou was the capital of the Southern Sung Dynasty, Master,” Guan-jiah said. “I’ve heard it is beautiful. Sung philosophy says that we have the power in our minds to overcome our emotions.”

“Marco Polo believed it was God’s will that he came back from China so others in the West might know what he’d seen.” Robert turned to his servant, who was the last in line. “Do you believe in this Sung philosophy, Guan-jiah?”

Sir Robert Hart working long hours at his standing desk.

“The Sung said that if you know yourself and others, you would be able to adjust to the most unfavorable circumstances and prevail over them.”

“That’s admirable, Guan-jiah. You never mentioned you were a scholar. If the Sung Dynasty was that wise, I want to see Hangzhou one day.”

“I am no scholar, Master, but I must believe in the Sung philosophy to survive. I have read and contemplated much literature. However, I am like a peasant and have never mastered calligraphy. It is a skill that has eluded me.”

“How old were you when you studied this philosophy?”

“I was eleven, Master, two years after I was sent to Peking.”

Source: From Chapter 4 of My Splendid Concubine

And Discover The Influence of Confucius

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.

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Breathing Huangzhou

June 4, 2013

The city of Huangzhou in Zhejiang province is about a hundred miles or 161 kilometers from Shanghai. We’ve visited several times. Our last trip together was in 2008 shortly before the project this story covers was launched. Huangzhou is one of the most beautiful cities in China.

In the video, Al Jazerra’s Melissa Chan reports on one of the largest bike sharing projects in the world and one of the most successful.

Launched in 2008, the city of Huangzhou provides 50,000 free bicycles at 2,000 bike stops across the city, and in July 2012 a paper was published on the Clean Air Action Planning in Chinese Cities: Hangzhou and Jinan Cases.

The people Chan interviewed say they use the bikes to go to work and it is great to be outside and exercising. One woman says it cuts her commute time.

Melissa Chan says the first hour of bike use is free. It’s actually possible to cycle free all day as long as you check in at a stop every hour.

The system is easy to use—just swipe a bike card across a reader (similar to riding many urban rapid transit systems) and off you go.

Registering for a card is simple.  All that’s needed is a deposit and identification.

Huangzhou, also known as the Westlake, has been one of the more environmentally conscious cities in China.

The government made space to build parks alongside the rapid development and modernization. Huangzhou has remained picturesque unlike many other cities in China where the concrete jungle has taken over.

Li Zhi Hong of Hangzhou Public Transport says the city wanted to encourage citizens to leave their cars and use more public transportation. The bicycles allowed people to take that final kilometer from the bus station to their destination.

The bikes are also great for tourism.

Melissa Chan says public busses have also adopted European emission standards. While there are still many cars on the road, people tell her that it could be a lot worse.

The city has taken the pollution issue seriously and Huangzhou’s success has attracted the attention of Beijing where the pollution problem is still “painfully” visible with each breath.

Today, Huangzhou is one of the cleanest cities in the country.  In fact, recently it was one of seven cities in China to limit the number of vehicles driving on roads using travel restrictions based on vehicle license plate numbers.” Source: Hangzhou Weekly.com (2013 update)

In addition, Huangzhou’s air is rated cleaner than seventeen of China’s Provincial Capitals including Xi’an, China’s ancient capital, and Beijing, its modern capital. Source: What’s On Ningbo.com

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Hangzhou – Paradise on Earth

December 4, 2012

If you ever visit Hangzhou, after cruising on the West Lake, you may want to see this tourist attraction in the city. Before 1949, it was the home of a wealthy family but was first owned by Hu Xue-yan (1823-1885).

Hu Xue-yan made his money in banking then expanded into pawn shops, import-export, real estate and made his biggest fortune as the founder of a Chinese herbal medicine company. After he died, his family lost the fortune and sold the house.

The house in these pictures and video was built in 1872. After it was renovated in 2008, it was turned into a museum and tourist attraction worth seeing.

When the Communists won China’s Civil War in 1949, the mansion (covering about two acres) was owned by another family that made its fortune first in the silk industry then banking.


rock art in garden with tunnels

There’s more to the mansion than this example of rock art in the garden you see in the photo above.  These rocks were added when the mansion was built. There was a time in China during the Imperial era when rock art was popular. Hidden under the building and among the rocks are manmade caves.

During a visit to Hangzhou, for a few yuan, you will be able to tour most of the mansion and the gardens (there is more than one garden beyond what you see in the two photographs).

The Hu Xue-yan mansion is in a city with a population of more than eight million, but once inside its walls you have no sense of the crowded city outside. Once the owner was home and the gates locked at night, it was a world-of-tranquility apart from the city.

The city of Hangzhou is more than two-thousand years old and was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279 AD) before Kublai Khan, who founded the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368 AD), conquered all of China.

Pond with carp – Hu Xue-yan’s Mansion

While Kublai Khan ruled China, Marco Polo visited Hangzhou in 1290.

There is a famous Chinese saying that says, “In heaven there is paradise, on Earth there is Su and Hang (Hangzhou – Paradise on Earth).

Discover Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Americans doing Business in China – Part 8/16

February 28, 2012

Note from Blog host — another example of East meets West through business and trade: Matt Egan of Fox Business.com reported, “Muhtar Kent, the CEO of All-American corporate giant Coca-Cola… knocked Washington over its handling of taxes and the level of political rancor and said he prefers investing in faster-growing countries like China, Russia and Brazil… In many respects, Kent told the paper, it is easier to do business with China, which he compared with a well-managed company.”

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This guest post was Originally published by Bob Grant — publisher/editor for Speak Without Interruption.

The original is a long piece with many photos. If you want to see more of Hangzhou and the Westlake, I recommend that after you read the few paragraphs here, you click on the link above. My wife and I have visited this city and lake several times over the years, and I enjoyed Bob’s piece about his visit and had a few good laughs.

Bog Grant wrote, Below is something that I sent to my family and they all said they liked it. However, they are family and what else could they say? I have a manager/partner in China whose name is David – we have associates named Eric and Uncle Wong. I live in Missouri and my relatives live in Wyoming. This sets the stage for the following recap of My Big Day Off – In China:

We found ourselves on a Saturday in a city I have visited before named Hangzhou (Han-Joe) with no appointments and time on our hands before our plane departed for Shenzhen (Sin-Gin). There is a lake in Hangzhou named West Lake. Not a very original name for the Chinese, but using Chinese logic, I am certain – somewhere – there is a North Lake, South Lake, Southeast Lake, Southwest Lake, South South Lake – you get the picture. The possibilities are endless.

David said, “Let’s take a boat ride.” Great – sounded like a good idea. Sitting quietly in a boat watching the countryside and relaxing – NOT. Think Progressive Dinner.

Note from Blog host – If you plan to do business in China, I recommend visiting the China Law Blog first.

Continued February 29, 2012 in Americans doing Business in China – Part 9 (a guest post) or return to Part 7

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of The Concubine Saga. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

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Note: This guest post first appeared on February 25, 2010.


Jocelyn Eikenburg’s “Speaking of China”

June 28, 2011

Eikenburg says, ” ‘I love you’ is a meaningless phrase if you can’t ‘show me the love’.”

Since I write about China, I often discover other Blogs and Websites about China and in May, I discovered Jocelyn Eikenburg’s Blog, Speaking of China, and felt it was worth recommending and to show-case a taste of what she has to offer from her rare perspective of China and the Chinese.

If you are tired of reading criticisms of China and the Chinese in the Sinophobe dominated Western Media/Blogs, I suggest visiting Eikenburg’s Blog for a breath of honest air.

When I stumbled on Eikenburg’s Blog, I was researching how peer pressure among teens causes depression for one of my other Blogs, Crazy Normal, and discovered an interview with Jocelyn Eikenburg on My New Chinese Love, which you may also find interesting.

In fact, the interview ended with a WARNING: Her writing is a delicious blend of a highly personal China travelogue and a juicy romance novel that will leave you wanting more. Way too easy to get hooked – so if you’re easily addicted then *stay away*!

However, who is Jocelyn Eikenburg? Well, for starters, she lived in China more than six years and speaks Mandarin.

Writer and Chinese translator, Eikenburg is one of the most prominent voices on the web for Chinese men and Western women in love. Married to John, a Chinese national from Hangzhou, Jocelyn writes offbeat stories about Chinese culture, and advice about cross-cultural love, dating, marriage and family.

She’s lived and worked in Zhengzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai. A Cleveland, Ohio native that resides in Idaho, Jocelyn is currently working on her memoir about love and marriage in China.

For a preview of her writing, I offer a glimpse from three of Eikenburg’s posts. Ask the Yangxifu: Chinese Parents, Pressure and a Preemie Baby

“Welcome to the world of Chinese families, where the parents rule.” (Note: maybe the average American parent could learn something valuable  from this “Speaking of China” post.)

“Chinese have lived for thousands of years with the Confucian value of filial piety — showing respect for family elders and ancestors. The flip side to this is Chinese parents expect to have a lot of control over the lives of their children (and even, in many cases, grandchildren). One Chinese once described it to me like this: ‘Chinese parents think of their children as furniture’ — something they own, something they should be able to ‘move around’ as they please.”

Then there is the post where she writes On the Rarity of Foreign Women and Chinese Boyfriends/Chinese Husbands, and says, “When I’m in China, I tend to turn a lot of heads, especially in the countryside — and that’s not just because I’m a foreigner. It’s because I’m often seen holding hands with my Chinese husband.”

Then in Chinese Men are Sexy, she says, “In October, 1999, it was as if I’d finally met my long lost locker pinup guy in the flesh. A sullen, James Dean type in a black leather jacket with a perfect ass. The kind of guy that made clichés like “tall, dark and handsome” drip from your mouth.… He drove me so crazy, I spent weeks taking cold showers and long bicycle rides just to cool down.”

Discover the 2008 China Trip

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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