Mount Qingyuan lies just north of Quanzhou, Fujian Province, China.

It is perhaps most famous for being the spot where “Old Man Rock,” often claimed to be Lao Zi (a.k.a. Lao Tzu), the founder of Taoism, has been sitting around now for well over a thousand years.

I first visited the spot in 1993. During our most recent visit back to China, I took my daughters there one afternoon.

The Web site spins Mount Qingyuan this way:

Located in the northern suburbs of Quanzhou, it is a beautiful rocky hill with clear streams and luxuriant woods. It has been a scenic attraction ever since the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and is known as the “first fairyland of Fujian.” The statue of Lao Zi- forefather and founder of Taoism-in sitting position on the hill is 5 meters tall, 7 meters deep, and 7 meters wide. It was made of a single piece of rock during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The smiling face and flying beard of the statue bring to life the kindly character of this legendary old man.

Mount Qingyuan’s surrounds, or my memory of the area, or both have changed in the past 13 years. I recall Old Man Rock being in a fairly remote area away from Quanzhou, but apparently the city has matured and developed to the point that Mount Qingyuan now qualifies as being in a Quanzhou “suburb.” The road in and parking area are a bit more hospitable as well.

Anyway, to start a three-post record of our visit to this attraction — “It’s not easy to pad these things out to 30 minutes, you know…” — here are a few photos remarking “the way in” to see the Old Man.

My daughters just outside the entrance to the park:

Here, you can read this for yourself, “General Description of Hill Qingyuan,” which calls the spot “a grotesquely charming and relaxing place.” And I just love those end-of-line hypenation rules:

You can read this for yourself too:

Next time: The Old Man himself….

A thousand years of Taoist thought all compacted into two easy volumes:
Daoism Handbook (2 volume set)