Written and Published by Han Institute, August 14, 2013

One Thread Heaven, Chapter Three


"Hello!" James was waiting in the Gold Hyat Hotel. He greeted us at 9 a.m. in the hotel lobby.

James said, ¡°I have arranged the gathering for you and your family at the end of our trip. There is no direct road. We may have to arrange some transportation. Don't worry. I will help you.¡±

He presented us with a tour plan. We will be going on our trip away from Nanyang city for 3 days. He got us a private chauffeur; we will be going to west region.

So at end of trip, I will be seeing my relatives? That's so very nice of you, James! "Sounds good!"

Let's go. Off we headed to the first stop, "Autonomous Region Museum". It is exactly 10 o'clock.

I have no clue why he took us to here, as I did not request it. It was a nice old estate with chrysanthemums all blossoming in early October.

A woman was pacing around and cleaning up every bit of trash. Nanyang's trademark is impeccably clean. I can see people are very proud of their local leader. In the U.S., once I heard a Henan man tell me: Your region Nanyang had a true man, Mr. Bie Tingfang. Now I can see why.

After we purchased the door tickets, we entered the estate, with the White River gently flowing by. The Local jade is dark green. It feels very scholarly and not so much a tourist trap.

Of course, the Communist museum guide gave us a different version of his life story. As we exited the museum, outside of the museum against the wall, a woman vendor was displaying books on a table, and I picked up books about local Communist Peng Xuefeng and Mr. Bie Tingfang in a hurry. This was to James' chagrin, because he wanted us to buy a celebrated communist biography of Bie Tingfang instead, as his tour business is linked to the government. Mark took out 10 RMB to buy the dusty book. Thanks for this book, which you cannot buy elsewhere. It was written by a local conscientious person.

In the museum, there is a picture of autonmous militia members being beheaded by the Communists. I asked the museum guide why they beheaded patriotic fighters against Japan, and the guide told me "they were bandits to begin with", which I do not accept.

My father once shook his head and said that many very good teachers all became Communists in the end.

Mark is an expert on former Communist chairman Zhang Guotao. In 1933, when Zhang Guotao's troops moved through this region, Bie Tingfang's autonomous region's militia was neutral and let them pass through. Only after they left the city compound did they fire their guns into the air.

According to the historians, Mr. Bie (12/25/1883-3/14/1940) was the best local leader of an autonomous region in China. Nanyang was the best-run autonomous region under the Nationalist government.

Bie started the first electric power plant in Henan Province. Economically, he issued Nanyang prefecture¡¯s own self-sufficient finance system. He enlisted the Swiss National Guard format to found a local militia, which he commanded to fight against the Japanese invasion in 1938. However, after he had a heart attack in 1940, the local Nanyang area was taken over by communists, as all the men were drafted and left Nanyang to fight Japanese elsewhere like my father. China¡¯s first draft system was implemented in Nanyang, Henan Province in 1936.

When the Nationalist government retreated from a location, they counted on militia groups and guerrillas to keep contact with the central government. Meanwhile, the KMT party had an underground organization to keep operations running. One such example is that after Doolittle bombed Tokyo in April 1942, as US changed the war stance from defense to offense; they were forced to crash land into Japanese occupied land in China. Nationalist communications coordinated with the guerrillas sent them to the interim capital Chongking, and within 2 weeks most of the pilots returned back to the U.S.

Many times, the odds of survival were 10:1, but eventually China defeated ultra-militaristic Japan, it is because of that one dim faint hopeful light in the darkless.

After a simple lunch, we went to the best preserved Soong Dynasty court house.

It was so peaceful after 1000 years. It was wide open as a miniature Forbidden City layout. There were several layers, comfortably well balanced along a meridian line.

The court was spacious. The examination system worked, as that was to choose the officials based on their writing, and most of all, the compassion and character indicated in it.

It has been one thousand years, but it is preserved as it was 1000 years ago. I realized how masters like Su Dongpo could have inspired many generations, as the environment exudes a grace and humanity in the peace and ultimate tranquility.

Afterwards, we went to jade town ¨CZheng Ping. There are many priceless art works, mainly for exhibition, not for personal collections.

Toward the evening, we left the Nanyang region and went onto the highway. The Henan sun was sadly gentle with a reddish blush color. I was excited and free in the car. I felt so lucky to not to have fallen victim to the worst famine in history, which occurred in 1958, when the first commune was set up in Henan Province.

We arrived at a pleasant little hotel. Outside the hotel, there were tiers of a chrysanthemum festival exhibit show.

The lobby was bustling with domestic tourists. As we entered the huge dining room, musicians were playing Yang Qin (dulcimer). I loved the texture and sentiment.

The server was so generous to tell us we can take as many as fruit drinks as we want, mainly Kiwi and coconut. Coconut is Mark¡¯s favorite drink.

Chrysanthemum is regarded as having a saintly character.

Tao Yuanming (365-427) was the most important literary figure in East Jin Dynasty and entire Wei Jin Northern-Southern Dynasty. His legacy is that he did not bend to serve as an official for 5 Dou of rice (Dou is about 1 decaliter), and instead lived an anonymous life, picking Chrysanthemums at the eastern fence.

When former Premier Jiang Zhemin said that he was going to retire into the mountains like Tao Yuangming, he was missing the whole point, as he had already accumulated mountains of fortune. Tao Yuanming did not retire with a fortune.

In early October, when all the flowers withered, only then did the chrysanthemum unhurriedly open. This gives the place a very aesthetic beauty and righteous character, because the flower has become a symbol of a hidden great master who wouldn¡¯t serve as a big official, but rather live a simple life.

I fell into peaceful sleep safely with the smiling twinkling stars looking down and chrysanthemum pure and faint scent.


To be continued

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