Rainy day in Datong

Trip Start Sep 01, 2010
Trip End Jul 31, 2011

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Flag of China  , Shanxi,
Sunday, May 8, 2011

Today was a rainy day in Datong as the title of the entry suggests. Since we already traveled to the Hanging Temple and Yungang Grottoes on the first day of our trip, we planned to take it easy on the last day. We started by waiting up late and agreed to meet for lunch around 11:45, just before check out.

Since it was a hotel and not a hostel, I took full advantage of the bathtub and took a bubble bath. Mind you I haven't used a bathtub in several years, and it was quite relaxing to not worry about how much water I was using for the bubble bath. After a relaxing soak, I met up with Paulina, David, Anna, and Davide in search for some bakery items. We had spotted a bakery the night before I decided to return to pick up some snacks for the train ride back home. The selection at the bakery was sparse and far in between, but nevertheless I was able to select out a dried pork bun and a blueberry pastry. It would have to do.

Since it had been raining for quite a while, the streets in front of our hotel began to flood as the sewer system was unable to take in the excess water. The result was a huge lake of rain water about 3 inches deep. Crossing the street would be a wet affair, luckily I had packed an extra sock for no reason at all. We decided to have lunch across the street from the hotel. However after trying to cross the river of water on the road, half of the group turned back in defeat, while some of us actually made it across. After going back and forth, we crossed back over to the side where our hotel was and stayed on the same block.

We went past the bakery and remembered we spotted a "SUSHI" restaurant, we agreed to head there. After entering and discovering the menu was quite weird, we asked the waitress what she recommended. We did not recognize any of the food items, so she helped us pick out some cold dishes and some hot dishes. We then asked where was the meat, she replied that there was no meat. It was not a SUSHI restaurant but rather a Su Shi (vegetables - vegetarian) restaurant, it didn't quite help that the only English words were SUSHI and the rest of the restaurant's name was in Chinese characters.

We had a interesting lunch at the vegetarian restaurant and stuffed ourselves full of fake meat and plenty of healthy greens. We met our driver outside our hotel around 2PM and he shuttled us over to a temple in the city. When we arrived, the temple was quite deserted with no tourists in sight, probably because it was raining so heavily. We enjoyed our stroll at the Huayan Temple for about 2 hours before wandering outside to a newly renovated cultural street. After browsing around on the local street, we scurried back over to the bus and the driver brought us a couple hundred meters down the road to the Nine Dragon Screen.

The wall consisted of nine colorful dragons on a huge wall. There were no other visitors in the compound so it was a nice pit stop for us to snap up some photos and to mock its 5 RMB student discount entrance fee. Some outsiders were trying to peek around the carefully placed signage to get a free view of the wall. Apparently there is also a similar Nine Dragon wall in Beijing's Beihai Park but I haven't had the chance to visit that park.

After the Nine Dragon Screen, we got on the bus and again were shuttled a couple hundred more meters to the Datong City Wall. I had already visited the grand City Wall of Xi'an, which is considered to be the finest in all of China. At first glance of the Datong City Wall, one can immediately identify the significance between the two. Xi'an City Wall was much larger and grander in scale, while Datong City Wall seemed very basic and utilitarian. We were able to sneak in before closing time at 6PM and wandered about on the wall for a short while. There were no bicycles to rent and one can easily see one end of the wall to the other unlike Xi'an.

We got back onto the bus and headed for a hotel near the train station. We had dinner in a private room where we all took off our rain-soaked socks to dry. The waitresses probably got a laugh at all the foreigners removing their socks and walking around barefoot while having a nice dinner at a proper hotel. After waiting for several hours, we went across the street to the train station, boarded our over night train for Beijing. We would once again endure another 6 hours of hard seats while trying to sleep on a Chinese train. This proved to be impossible and once we had arrived in Beijing early Monday morning, I headed straight for bed and missed a day of class.
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