Luoyang Part 1

Trip Start Feb 27, 2013
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Henan,
Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We had been talking in class with some of my friends about having a fun weekend away. We were getting sick of the cold, and had wanted to go down south to have a beach weekend together.  After more investigation, we found that it was a little too far away for a couple of days.  Still intent on seeing something different together, we googled some places and randomly selected Luoyang.  It seemed to have a few places of interest that we could visit, so we spontaneously bought plane tickets after class for the very following Friday, from a man who worked in the corner of a tailoring shop.
So at a 4:30am alarm, we set off and met up the airport.  Our little travelling group was me, Vesliana from Indonesia, Margaux from Holland, and Rania and Nina from South Africa.  The plane to Luoyang was nearly two hours, and when we landed you could immediately tell that this city was not as vibrant and busy as the one we had just come from.  It was evident as soon as we exited the airport, as there was no one around except for two taxis in the taxi rank.  No other cars, and everyone else had already gone.  The taxi drivers were definitely taking advantage of having 5 foreigners with no other way to get to their hostel, so we were a little ripped off as they drove us to or hostel.
I have never stayed in a youth hostel before, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The room was very basic, but it was clean, warm and had a bathroom so we didn't have to use the communal facilities.  One particularly note-worthy part of my room was the fact that the curtain ensuring privacy for those in the bathroom was on the side of the bedroom.  Meaning, if your roommates wanted to spy on you, they could open the curtain and you could do nothing about it.  Lucky I was with very trustworthy people!
Our first day we set off to the Longmen Grottoes.  They are cave temples carved into the rock face, mostly dedicated to Buddha.  The detail in those caves is absolutely spectacular.  The sizes of the caves vary from tiny, to nearly 18m high.  Cave temples in China were started in around 3rd century AD until about the 16th century AD. 
The biggest Buddha, Locana buddha, measuring in at 17.14m high (with a head of over 4m high) was built in 672AD.  According to the sign describing the Buddha and its surrounding bodhisattvas, "anandais docile and honest the bodhisattvas are dignified, magnificent and reserved, the heavenly kings are solemn and mighty, the warriors are firm-spirited and strong.  It is the masterpiece of Buddhist carving art of the Tang Dynasty in China." If that doesn't describe some art, I don't know what does. I do have to agree, though, that this cave was particularly striking, due to its size and detailing.
The whole area around the caves was so incredibly calming.  There weren't many other tourists around, and so we wandered slowly around the beautiful area. I imagine that during summertime, in the peak of tourist season, it wouldn't have the same feeling.  It was very relaxing, which is a complete juxtaposition to the bus ride on the way home.  Caught in peak hour, I was lucky enough to grab a seat for the duration of the trip, but some of my friends weren't so lucky. Margaux in particular was stabbed with so many bags, elbows, knees and funny looks as she defiantly stood in front of me.  After such an early start, and hours walking around, we definitely earned our sleep! 
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Sharon on

Fantastic pictures Amy.

Lyn on

Great record of your holiday.

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