Asia

Excursion to Yungang Grottoes and the Hanging Temple

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Continue our 15-day trip through China, and how the previous day We lost almost all day looking for the hotel, that day it was time to tighten the itinerary to see the two wonders near Datong: Yungang Caves and The hanging temple.

It was a can have wasted time looking for the hostel the previous day. We wanted to have dedicated ourselves to visit the caves of Yungang, which are at outskirts of Datong and the next day dedicate it completely to visit the hanging temple That is quite far. We were a bit resigned because we thought we were going to have to do without one of the two visits due to lack of time. Even so, we went to the train station to buy tickets for go to Pingyao the next day.

Entrance of the CITS agency in Datong

Shortly before arriving at the station, Xavi consulted the guide and saw that there was an agency that organized excursions in the area nearby, so we decided to try his luck. According to the guide, to access the agency they had to follow the signs that indicated: «CITS». And following the signs like Alice following the rabbit we arrived at a tiny agency located at the end of a dead end.

Upon arriving there we met a group of 15 foreign tourists waiting patiently for the time to leave. It was 8.45 am and the excursion began at 9. For 420 yuan, Yungang grottos and the hanging temple were visited with tickets and food included; or 100 yuan only with transportation and guide in English. It seemed that day we were in luck.

Yungang Caves in Datong

The Yungang Grottoes They are on the outskirts of Datong and can be reached with the number 3 bus that runs in front of the train station. The caves began to be sculpted in the year 460 and during the sixty years that its construction lasted more than two hundred and fifty-two caves distributed along a kilometer from east to west were created. Currently only 45 can be visited, but they are one of the great wonders of China since the caves house beautiful Buddha sculptures of infinite sizes carved in the rock, the largest of 17 meters high.

Interior of one of the caves

In our opinion, the most impressive caves are 4 and 6, so it is better to leave them for last. It was the first that the guide showed us and the rest of the visit declined a bit.

In China we were very surprised by the constant contradictions we found. For example, in March 2012 the entrances of many of China's most important monuments experienced a spectacular rise. The entrance to the caves, which was previously worth 60 yuan, was worth 150 yuan (€ 18) for all visitors (except students, who have a discount). We asked Joy, our guide that day, why this increase and told us that the government was investing a lot of money to recover and improve the places of cultural interest. For example, in Yungang caves they have built a grand entrance with a lobby Again very beautiful and a grandiloquent Buddhist temple where formerly there was a small population, which they obviously destroyed to build those ostentatious facilities. Is rare. We must not forget that China is a communist country, even if it does not seem so, and that one of the pillars of communism is access to culture for the whole world. And yet, in China there are still many people who cannot afford to spend 150 yuan to enter a monument. This was something that we found quite contradictory.

After the visit to the caves, we returned to the bus to go to the hanging temple, but before we stopped almost in the middle of nowhere to eat at a place. Like in the excursion to Yaxchilán in Mexico or at Colca Canyon in PeruThey stopped at a place where they have an agreement that you eat for much more money than in a normal place. And since there are only 30 minutes to eat, there is no time to look for an alternative. The menu cost 40 yuan, but all the Spaniards in the group preferred to go out and find another place. Sometimes we are very shabby, and I include myself, because I also went out to look for another place just to save me what in exchange were only a couple of euros. In the end we found a neighborhood restaurant in which the menu was obviously only in Chinese and we didn't know what was on the menu.

Chinese noodle superball

After a while trying to communicate with the owner of the restaurant with the app I do not speak of the iPad, we got a bowl the size of a noodle soup pool for 12 yuan. The rest of the group preferred to drink a beer and buy something to snack in a nearby supermarket.

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