All throughout the country, China offers many wonders both natural and man- made. I have visited the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, and the Li River just to name a few. But one of my latest discoveries definitely wins the award for the most unusual.
In the city of Foshan is a waterfall many stop and gaze at. But it is unlike any waterfall you may have experienced. This one is composed entirely of toilets. Not surprisingly, its name is the Toilet Waterfall. This “landmark “ is appropriate since ceramics are the lifeline of Foshan and have been for centuries. There are sections of the city with long blocks of stories selling toilets, basins, and other ceramic items. I never gave much thought about toilet styles until I saw the wide selection offered here. Of course, many of these items will make their way to the United States.
Long before this modern convenience item became a staple of Foshan’s factories, other ceramics for everyday use were being produced. The Ancient Nanfeng Kiln has been around since the early 1500s. It’s been continuous firing ceramics for over 500 years. The area around the ancient kiln has grown into a complex. In recent years a ceramic museum, assorted shops, a ceramic shopping center, and a scenic spot have been developed alongside it. The scenic spot is where the Toilet Waterfall is located. I actually found it amusing…not at all crass. Tourists seem to get a kick out of it as well. You can’t say the Chinese do not have a sense of humor.
If you want to purchase any kind of Chinese ceramics, Foshan is definitely the place to visit. The quantity of items available all throughout the city is staggering. The attractive aspect is many of the stores sell many of the same style of bowls, tea sets, or whatever may catch your eye.
I spotted an attractive blue ceramic tea pot I thought would be a nice present to bring home to the states this summer. The dealer’s opening price was 65 RMB. I’ve been told when bargaining in China always offer half. With that as a starting point then you can let the negotiations develop as they may. Through an interpreter ,I countered with 35 RMB. To my surprise the merchant immediately accepted my counter offer. Obviously he could still make a profit so he accepted. That 35 RMB amounts to less than $6 in American money. All throughout Foshan ,you’ll find an extensive assortment of ceramic items. You definitely can negotiate price-if you’re with someone who speaks Chinese.
Another highlight of the city is Ancestral Temple. It is a Daoist Temple dating back to the 11t h century.The architecture is interesting and intricate.The grounds offer several tranquil gardens that definitely have a Chinese feel to them. One of them even has a statue of Confusius. So of course I did the touristy thing and had my picture taken with it.
But Ancestral temple is more than just a religious site. The temple also houses displays of other Chinese culture. Besides religious services, performances of the Cantonese opera are held here. If that seems unusual for a religious site, then you may be even more surprised to hear that kung fu demonstrations are also performed daily. The performers have the full array of moves that will leave you in disbelief at what a human body can do! In fact, the greater Foshan area offers many martial arts schools.
Inside there are displays as well as a large statute honoring martial arts masters of the past especially Wong Fei Hung, a legendary figure to the Chinese. He was “the man” of martial arts long before Bruce lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet-li appeared on the scene. A number of films and television series have been made on various parts of his life.
Bruce lee is also revered here since part of Foshan was his family’s original home. That ancestral home is located outside of town. But I did not visit it. Movie buffs of the kung fu legend may find that hard to believe. But guess what-I did not stop by Elvis’ mansion either when I toured Memphis Tennessee!