We were supposed to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors, but our schedule had been switched. Our new guide, Lisa, met us at the airport in red sweats and a quilted jacket. It was warm (forecast 25° Celsius). I don’t believe we went straight to the hotel but loaded the luggage on the bus and headed for the mysterious Longmen Caves.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QdYUkvT19g (length 4.37 min)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf_ZzgwxrmI (length 30.12 min)
For an in-depth history, you may like to check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longmen_Grottoes
We walked a long way from the bus to the grottoes. The day was humid with a hint of rain. I wore flip-flops until we got off the plane. Yes, those cheap dollar store kind to wear in the hotels, proof of how little I’ve travelled. We had slippers at every hotel. Duh. Had I known I’d be wearing them out, I’d have packed my fashionable pair. I switched to my runners on the bus. Soon my blistered and bandaged toes, although wrapped in three bandages each, growled and complained.
The area we walked was a long and wide to accommodate hoards of people. It was a well-maintained park setting with flowers, trees and was surprisingly pristine, alongside the River Yi. Again we saw no wrappers or garbage anywhere. No empty water bottles lay around either. Recycle containers were everywhere and well-used.
So much destruction had occurred over time: vandalism, smashed faces, missing heads and time. Stolen pieces had been mysteriously secreted to museums in various parts of the world, but are slowly being returned.
Our tickets to Longmen Caves allowed a choice between a postcard and a pack of peony seeds. I chose the latter as a souvenir because peonies are the city flower. There is a natural rock in this area that looks like it’s covered in peonies.
I hadn’t planned to climb to the top as my feet balked at the hundreds of stairs (thousands?), but curiosity changed my mind. When would I have the opportunity to see for myself what I’d traveled so far to see? Going up wasn’t too bad. I don’t think anyone noticed how I gripped the railing with both hands. Coming down was another matter. Heights and I are not on friendly terms.
Would you guess the biggest Buddha is 17 metres tall?
This is a close-up of the largest Buddha, Losana, or Mona Lisa so-called by the locals because of the smile.
Below the many stairs are shops with tourist trinkets, postcards etc. of all kinds.
By the time I’d walked and photographed and snooped in the shops and sat to rest my feet, my tummy began to remind me it was starving. The humidity continued and the rain stayed away. Soon everyone gathered together. There was no more to see. Dinner awaited somewhere. I hoped we didn’t have far or long to go.
Next on August 22, Day 6, Part 3 – Dinner and Stories
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