photo blog_head_zpsonl8fonu.jpg
Meesa gonna kill you!

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Friday, July 01, 2011

N. China - Day 10, Part 1 - Datong, Yungang Grottoes

"Never explain--your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway." - Elbert Hubbard

Except this way, your friends may become your enemies


N. China
Day 10 - 8th November - Datong, Yungang Grottoes
(Part 1)

I took the night train to Datong so I could see the Yungang Grottoes, but the night train was too fast so I got just under 6 hours of sleep.

This time I took the 软卧 (soft sleeper) again. They played muzak in the corridor, but it was soft and subtle, and not annoying Chinese radio chatter. It actually sounded a bit like Kenny G. However, even this expensive train had a guy spitting in the corridor. Gah.

When I exited Datong station there was some light snow, but it quickly passed. As I exited the station, I was ambushed by a Chinese man speaking in English and offering me a 9am tour. I declined at first, but then he showed me his CITS (China International Travel Service) badge. From Let's Go I'd heard that their tours were quite good, so I relented. Besides, his kungfu was excellent - he knew I was a foreigner even before I opened my mouth (probably because Chinese don't backpack).

The tours were to be 100¥ per person (if there were 3 of us), without lunch and admission. If there were 2, it'd cost 150¥ each. With a minimum of 5 people we could get lunch and admission for 330¥. Apparently if one person hired a car, it'd cost up to 400¥. So perhaps I had not been ripped off that much in Qufu. Then again, it was in the manager's interest to stress that his tour was better.

Free Image Hosting at
"Hot water... 7:00-12:00, 17:00-24:00"
Ahh, the provinces!

He bundled me off with a Vietnamese guy living in Singapore and we went for breakfast.

Free Image Hosting at
("Sexual health")
I love euphemisms. But as euphemisms go this isn't very euphemistic.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at
The grit of a real Chinese city. Also see the dirty snow (it was the Vietnamese guy's first time seeing snow: I told him I was quite sad that this had to be his first time).

Free Image Hosting at
("Slimming for Girls")
It must be an East Asian thing. This isn't even a big Chinese city!

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at
Eight Treasures porridge I had. You can see the Ninth Treasure at the top of the bowl and in the second photo. I asked the staff what the Eight Treasures were, and heard "Peanuts" before I lost track. I think there were Job's Tears inside as well.

Free Image Hosting at
Meat Bing (wrapped) and Oil Bing ("油饼" literally, this was not mine)

Free Image Hosting at
Lamb Internal Organs Noodles (I didn't have this)

My breakfast companion said China Southern Airlines was better than Tiger Airlines hah.

Free Image Hosting at
My Meat Bing

Free Image Hosting at
Menu of the place. Yes I know there's another word before 肉饼 but I don't recognise it so I'll just call it "Meat Bing".

Free Image Hosting at
Sausages floating in glop

Free Image Hosting at
Another sex shop. Maybe breathing in coal dust (the primary local industry is coal mining) makes one horny.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at
Cock World Time Clocks in the hotel where the CITS office was. You can see that they stopped at different times.

Free Image Hosting at
"Visit Singapore" ad on (a site to find out rail timetables)

The 3 most famous attractions here were:
1) The Yungang Grottoes
2) The Hanging Monastery
3) The Oldest Wooden Building in China (the Sakyamuni Pagoda aka the Yingxian Pagoda)

There were 4 of us in the end: me, the Vietnamese guy living in Singapore, a Malaysian Malay and a British guy working in Hong Kong. This was just enough to fit in a taxi (the manager didn't come along - his job was just to bring us together and coordinate with the taxi driver; if the 4 of us had hired the taxi ourselves, it'd have cost less than 400¥ - ahh coordination problems!), so we went on the tour visiting 1) and 2). We wouldn't be visiting Huayan Si in Datong but there would probably be no time anyway.

Free Image Hosting at
"Ancient Chinese City
Datong Under Heaven"
This was on the taxi driver's headrest

I asked the cab driver if Yungang was a 5A site, and he said yes, adding that it was a World Heritage site. I said it would be my 88th, and he was stunned - perhaps because it was a lucky number.

The cab driver described most days' weather as "Ji1 Zhong1 Dong4 Re4". He was very proud of the best coal in Shanxi coming from Datong. I should've asked if the worst pollution in Shanxi was also in Datong.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at
Yungang Grottoes complex entrance

Free Image Hosting at
"Team against the ballot
Small pieces of storage
Explain the service centre"

The "service centre" was like a classy hotel.

Free Image Hosting at
Service centre statue

I was a little disappointed to find that there were some renovation works going on. at Yungang However, I was delighted to find out that:

("Since superiors have agreed Yungang Grottoes, during the renovations, will have a ticket price discount of 30¥")
This was the first time I'd ever seen this, and I certainly didn't expect it in China, where people try and squeeze every last Yuan out of you. So we paid only 100¥.

Before visiting the grottoes I had a look at a suspiciously clean temple complex (Ling Yan Temple): part of it was across the lake from the grottoes and another part was built on the approach to them.

Free Image Hosting at
This is presumably one of the monks who came to this place, but I can't read his name.

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at
Processional gateway

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at
Elephant pillar
The elephant seems to have Indian influence.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at
Carving of a procession

Free Image Hosting at
Temple across the water

Free Image Hosting at
Yungang caves across the lake

Free Image Hosting at
Another suspiciously clean temple building

Free Image Hosting at

Free Image Hosting at
Suspiciously clean beams

Free Image Hosting at
Too-White Pagoda

Bells Chiming on Pagoda

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at
Hall at the end

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at
Carvings beside the steps

The men around the door told me that the temple was new (it'd been finished in September) and so by implication I should run along and see the real attractions here: the grottoes (it made me wonder why there were no information plaques around). All the same, it'd been a nice change from "Imperial" Beijing architecture.

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.usFree Image Hosting at
Painting inside hall

Apparently foreigners must join tours to go to Tibet.
blog comments powered by Disqus
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes