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Phreaky Essays: Datong - Buddhist Caves, Hanging Monasteries and New Friends

After the big crowded Beijing (and we've liked it) we've jumped on a 4-hours train to the small town, named Datong. We've took the simplest hard seat tickets and tried to communicate with the other passengers as much as we can with nearly zero vocabulary (still succeeded to learn some Chinese card game that should be played very fast).

After the big crowded Beijing (and we’ve liked it) we’ve jumped on a 4-hours train to the small town, named Datong. We’ve took the simplest hard seat tickets and tried to communicate with the other passengers as much as we can with nearly zero vocabulary (still succeeded to learn some Chinese card game that should be played very fast).

Right near the exit from the station we’ve met a CITS-guy (China International Travel Service). His name is William (I’ve called him Sir William) and he speaks many languages, including brilliant English. That evening we’ve got nothing to ask for,
except the precise direction to the reserved hotel.

Next day was dedicated to Yungang Grottoes – a remarkable historical monument that silently tells the stories of the fifths century. Evening was cold, so we’ve got home right after the supper. (Remark: in the North China try noodles, cut from the paste directly into the boiled water).

A day after the real story started to roll on: the only tourists in town, we’ve walked to Sir William to ask several questions about some local attractions, two-three new Chinese words and hotel reservations along our way. Whom do you think we’ve met there? Another couple of happy visitors!

Matthias and Ella asked if we wanna join them to the second best tourist attraction: the Hanging Monastery (the pic says it all). The Buddhist Monastery, build at the foot of Hengshan mountain (one of the 5 sacred Taoist mountains) is a home for 3 religions: Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

On the way back (sorry, this time we four took a taxi) the driver stopped opposite the old village and gave us a chance to know a bit more about the local people. The old man lives in his cave for decades (and looks pretty happy `bout that). He showed us some
newspapers with his portraits and a TV (present from the local taxi drivers’ committee).

Day by day, the second evening in Datong was dedicated to the Drum tower, tea shop (an ancient and a very good one; much more about Chinese Tea later) and meeting local curious pioneers (the school classes end very late – near 5 o’Clock in the evening). Here I apologize for abusing the Diana flash :)

Before falling asleep we’ve exchanged phone numbers with Matthias and, helping by Sir William, bought bus tickets to the next destination – Mountain Wutai. Peeping ahead, I
can hint that it was beginning of a beautiful friendship – all the four of us traveled together for a whole three weeks: drinking, eating, hiking together and sometimes doing
even more extreme things, but more about that later :)

written by breakphreak

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