Kaifeng and Henan University

We left Xi’an on the fast train to Zhengzhou (pronounced JenJo). At times the train was traveling at 328 k/h, which is 200 miles per hour! The ride was incredibly smooth and the scenery fabulous! We saw huge mountains, some rivers and every available spot cultivated. There were charming villages with tile roofs and nuclear power plants. Lots of contrasts in China!

Upon arrival at the train station we were driven about an hour to Kaifeng. It was founded in 364 BC and is one of the 7 ancient capitals of China. During the Song Dynasty, Kaifeng was the capital with over 400,000 people! In 1049 the Iron Pagoda was built and is 179 feet tall. It is a solid-core brick tower with an inner spiral stone staircase and outside openings to allow light and air movement. I climbed up to the third level (of 13). It’s incredibly dark and narrow – and the door to enter is only 4 feet tall! It’s survived floods and other natural disasters.

Kaifeng is like Xi’an in that it’s a walled city. The University of Henan (UH) is inside the walled, older city. UH is building 2 new campuses, one nearby and one closer to Zhengzhou. The main campus has several buildings designated as historic treasures. While we were touring campus we visited the original gate to the campus and happened upon some graduates taking pictures in their cap and gowns. They quickly decided WE should be in their pictures too! What fun – they were so excited!

We had an excellent meeting with the President, Lou Yuangong and some of his support staff. We also had a presentation of the museum on the history of HU. At the end they produced their memory book for Mike to sign. He used a caligraphy paint brush and did a great job!

Two of the four banquets while in Kaifeng were held at our hotel. It’s beautifully situated on a large lake. At the far edge of the lake was a temple; it has a large, half-moon bridge to an island holding a huge pagoda. At night all of the edges are trimmed in white lights – it’s very beautiful. Early in the morning (when not able to sleep), around 5:30 I went out on our balcony overlooking the lake. Much to my surprise was a cadre of swimmers! Must be a masters swim group. They swam around the island a few times and were out there for at least 90 minutes!

Another dinner was in a restaurant on different lake. This dinner was hosted by Guan Aihe,  the Party Secretary of HU. As usual, the food was excellent! The restaurant is incredibly elegant with a 2 story open entryway and magnificent chandelier. Every restaurant we’ve been to throughout China has lovely hostesses to greet you. They’re wearing long, traditional Chinese dresses with elaborate embroidery.

HU provided me an opportunity to speak with a group of their foreign language students. It was great fun. During the question/answer time, University of Akron colleague Kathy Ross-Alaolmolki joined me for a great discussion with the students and professors.