Earlier this month I spent a weekend in Changsha (长沙), the capital city of Hunan province (south-central China), to attend a friend’s wedding. Changsha is typical of every other second tier city in China – sprawling, grey, and heavily polluted with nothing much going on other than the relentless development of high-rise buildings and endless roads. This is not somewhere you would visit for a holiday but I did manage to find one small gem in the rough…

Hobbit Hole

A short distance outside the city center can be found Hunan University (湖南大学), one of the oldest national universities in China, with a history dating back over 1000 years to the Song Dynasty. There are some nice older red brick buildings on its leafy campus and even a couple of Hobbit holes!

Temple Lion

Within the grounds can also be found the restored remains of the original Yuelu Academy (岳麓书院), which was established in 976 for scholars to prepare for civil examinations, and eventually evolved into the university that exists now.

Confucius Temple

Today the academy is a museum and center for language research that is open to the public. Since it’s not aimed at foreign tourists there is no English information available but it’s still nice to walk around and soak up the scholarly atmosphere.

Confucian Butterfly

Leafy Staircase

Uniform Accession

Above the acceding rooftops of the Confucian temple within the compound lies Yuelu Mountain (岳麓山) on the west bank of the Xiang River.

Green Overhang

Bamboo Buttress

There’s nothing like the sound of bamboo rustling in the breeze to calm the mind…

…or invigorate the soul!

Green Courtyard

The renowned Confucian scholars Zhu Xi (朱熹) and Zhang Shi (张栻) both lectured at the academy.

Lollipop

By the looks of it todays young scholars have other things on their mind than arguing about the Doctrine of the Mean.

Solitary SMS

Sadly finding a moment away from the constant distractions of the everyday world is hard to find.

Green Window

But here you might come close.

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Yuelu Academy Pond

Yuelu Academy Buildings

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Yuelu Academy Rooftops

Downtime

Apart from the odd rampaging tour group, Yuelu Academy was a welcome break from Changsha city center and a nice place to relax after the sheer chaos of attending a Chinese wedding the day before (more on that another time)!

Jia Jia Mein

Changsha, like Szechuan is known for spicy food, but without the additional numbing effects of certain spices and pepper. For my final meal in Changsha I choose something a little more ordinary (mince beef noodles).

Changsha Noodles

So there you have it – where to go if you find yourself stuck in Changsha for the weekend!

Comments

  1. Gang Chen says:

    This is my hometown. I got my Ph.D degree from Central South University, another national university that located around Yuelu mountain.

    It is happy to read something about the place where I grew up on your blog. The pictures are great. Thanks.

  2. Stuck in Changsha? Some of live in Hunan you know!
    Well, not exactly true, I live outside of Chenzhou, in the south, teaching English. Much better for your health.

    But like yourself, Hong Kong is my aim very soon!

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