Posted by: 1of10boyz | November 16, 2011

The Temple of the Holy Hand Grenade

One of the interesting locations we have here in Haiyang is the tourist location for the war memorial of the landmine. When we have driven by this location on our way to Yantai I have noticed it and inquired about what it is and what it represents. I have been told that the canyon where it resides is a site that was used during the War of Japanese Occupation, World War II to the rest of us, to manufacture landmines and hand grenades.

I have been intrigued by the large hand grenade “monuments” that are so prominent at its entrance. Since its entrance looks similar to some of the temples that we see so frequently in China I have taken to calling it the “Temple of the Holy Hand Grenade”.

Since we were not planning to go anywhere this weekend, I thought it might be nice to get out and see something but didn’t want to eat up a lot of the day with travel. Since the Temple of the Holy Hand Grenade is only about 25 km from Expert Village I thought it would be a nice visit. I admit that we know absolutely nothing about this location.

We have seen it as we have driven by and know nothing else. We left the village about 11am. We arrived at the entrance to the canyon about 11:30am. I note that there appears to be some kind of play that is part of what happens in this location to tell its story. The play occurs two times a day, 11am and 3pm, so we have just missed the first show. We finally get someone that can speak enough English for us to get through the ticket process. It is obvious that the location is not used to the non-chinese speakers being in attendance. This is going to be an interesting experience.

We go through the entrance and the ticket lady is dressed in one of those “you’ve got to be kidding me” outfits. I haven’t quite figured out how a country that seems like it has such a low tolerance for immorality and immodesty cannot really figure out that some clothes and the combinations of clothes were never meant to be worn in public. LaDawna was able to snap a picture of her as she walked up the road past us.

We have stopped to take some pictures at the entrance as we notice that the garbage cans are big hand grenade being held by a person with their arms and legs wrapped around it. The person holding the hand grenade is grinning in a manner that makes us laugh. The grin reminds of a crazy person. I doubt that they intended the garbage can to look like a crazy person but we find it quite funny. There are really three activities that are part of this site, one is just the road up the canyon and the scenery, one is the play, and the last is a waterslide.

Base of the entrance gate

We note that water flumes are empty and we are actually glad that we aren’t going to be worrying about that today. Normally when we are visiting locations in China that are tourist attractions the signs are also in English. We note that none of the signs in this area are bilingual, only Chinese. Some of the very newest signage, probably installed this year has some English, but it really is little more than pinyin, but it is better than nothing. We see some older warning signs by the deeper pools where water is being collected from the small springs that must be higher up on the canyon walls and by the other areas that might be considered dangerous that have English translations of the warnings in Chinese. We wonder what they really mean as the Chin-glish is comically unhelpful.

The weather is kind of cloudy and overcast. It looks threatening but we haven’t felt any rain drops, but the cloud level is lowering and we know that will mean the rain is coming. I realize now that we have left the car at the mouth of the canyon without the umbrella. There are a number of smaller little homes or shops that line the road. Many of these have recently been restored but they do retain the feel of revolutionary China. There are Mao slogans written on many of them, there is even a picture of Mao painted on one. We haven’t seen much of these kinds of relics in our travels so far as much of what we have seen is more recent and has had these kinds of reminders removed or covered.

We are actually enjoy the fact that the weather is a little cooler and threatening today as the we have the canyon nearly to ourselves. We have a couple of young boys traveling on the road to their home which are above the tourist locations in the middle part of the canyon and couple of young men. We meet a large group going down the canyon from the 11am show and then the canyon is quiet and peaceful, something we don’t see much of in this country.

There is a stream that flows down the canyon and is probably small now in comparison to the flows that it experiences during the spring and wet season. The stream has been developed to try and maintain water, so where it would have normally been a small fast flowing trickle at this time of year, it is now a slow moving wide pond. The dams built typically are in the 4’ to 5’ high range and are about 6’ wide. The water runs across the tops of the dams and falls to the next level below. The water on the top of the dam is not more than just a couple of centimeters deep, just enough to keep the slim growing on the tops of the dam. We stop at a number of little physical activities that have been built across the stream that runs down the canyon.

There are a number of physically challenging activities that are really just bridges for crossing the stream. These include rope bridges, zip lines, chain bridges, and a wide variety and combination of these types of bridges. The bridges have chain-link fence “safety nets” installed under them to keep you out of the water when you don’t make it all the way across. We stage some photo ops of several attempts far enough to make it look like we are doing it.

We stop at the museum and water dungeon. The museum is one of the larger buildings along the road that has been restored. It has the look of a fortress only on a miniature scale. The towers and turrets look real enough just not really large enough to be actually useful. The dungeons and torture tools represented remind me that there was a darker side to this country not so long ago. We often forget in the China that we see each day that it wasn’t always that way even within my lifetime. We often marvel that the populace can be so calloused in situations where we would instinctively have compassion and empathy. The torture tools are primitive but most certainly effective. Using our everyday experience we come away from the dungeon with a slightly eerie feeling knowing that this society is not even two generations away from using these tools and the behavior of torture.

The scenery is most spectacular at the waterfall. We are glad that we have the place to ourselves. We are able to really find the best locations for the pictures and we are quite happy with the leisurely pace we have been able to take in seeing this location. The leaves are past their prime but it is still nice to see fall colors even if it is November. The cloud level has descended down the mountain and we are no longer able to see the peaks as we were when we started up the canyon. We can see just a little bit of the pass and contemplate returning on another day to climb all the way to the top. We walk back down the road to the theatre location. The clouds have lowered and we can feel the mist, not really rain drops but it is no longer dry.

We get to the theatre about 45 minutes before it is supposed to start. We are alone. I wonder, will we get a private showing. We don’t have to wonder long, as a girls finishing school arrives, roughly about 2 dozen young ladies. We feel good about our seat locations as it looks like the majority of the play will transpire directly in front of us. The set is quite a complex with a number of old and restored buildings.

We are glad that we arrived early; the play begins at 2:30. One of the few times we have seen the Chinese do anything early. Most cases we are on what would be called “Mormon Standard Time”, or about 10 minutes late. We thoroughly enjoyed the play, even though it was entirely in Mandarin. The set was utilized well, the explosions and fire were exciting and added to the drama, and action was fun to observe. The actors and extras did a great job. We realize as we are leaving that the young ladies are there to see the lead actor as they clamor to have their picture taken with him.

Overall, our summary for the Temple of the Holy Hand Grenade is that is worth the visit. The play was enjoyable and the scenery was good. We will probably return to this location again. We recommend this visit for a short weekend activity.


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