Luoyang and Zhengzhou in central China, 9 & 10 May 2015
Today we experienced out first Bullet Train ride, from Xi’an to Luoyang, one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. The railway station was another very new, big station. We had to wait for 1 ½ hours, only because we arrived early. The train was punctual, as you would expect. We had 3 minutes to get the 37 of us and our suit cases on the train but by now, we were all a well oiled machine. We had no one wing the group who we had to wait for.
Once on the train, in our designated seats, it was no time before the train was traveling at 303 kph. It certainly didn’t feel like that speed, and the train was very quiet and smooth. After 1 ½ hours we were in Luoyang.
When we arrived at the station we were greeted by our new guide, William who spoke very good English and who had visited Australia many times, with and without Chinese tourists.
We then hopped on our bus and drove to the Longmen Grottoes, which were densely scattered along
the cliffs on both banks of the Yi River (Yellow River). Construction began in 493AD during the Northern Wei Dynasty, and there are now 2345 caves with 2680 statues, over 70 stupas and 2680 inscribed stone tablets.
After being there for a couple of hours, climbing up many stairs, we hopped back on the bus and drove into Luoyang.
The hotel we stayed in was lovely, as they all have been. We had another lovely Chinese dinner...we certainly haven’t been disappointed with the food. We noticed that the further north we were traveling, the less chilli was used or offered. After dinner, many of us went into the hotel bar. We were also noticing that the group were getting to know each other really well, and it has been an excellent group.
After an excellent sleep we were off to visit the Museum of Luoyang Eastern Zhou Royal Horse and Chariot Pits, an accessory pit of an imperial tomb of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (about 2200 to 2700 years ago); exhibiting the remains of 2 sets of ancient chariots and horses.
After a couple of hours, we transfer
to Shaolin Temple, situated in Songshan Mountain. This is the most reputable and longest standing temple in China. It is also the birthplace of Shaolin Kung Fu. The main scenic spots in the temple were the Hall of Heavenly Kings, the Grand Hall, the Sutra Depository, Hall of Thousands of Buddha and the Pagoda Forest.
While there, we also attended a Kung Fu demonstration as there was a big school there where the children and adults learned these martial arts. They were incredible...and so fast and flexible. The school was made even more famous because Jacky Chan visited the school several times and promoted the program.
The day was really cold up in the mountains. It was quite windy and then it started to rain. After walking all the way down to the Pagoda forest, we caught the tourist bus back to where we started which was about 3 kms. I was looking forward to the walk back but it was too cold as most of us had left our coats on the bus because the sun was out when we left our bus. Apparently the weather is very changeable.
It had been
a great day and we returned to our hotel very satisfied. That night we had a lovely Chinese dinner with the group. Even though many of the meals are presented at a table for 10 people, with multiple dishes served with rice, on a lazy-susan in the middle, every meal is very different, including different flavours. The way they present vegetables is lovely – crunchy. They love including bok choy and eggplant as well as tofu served with different spices. We are really enjoying the food which is very different to the Chinese restaurants in Australia. We are certainly noticing a little less spicy as we move north.
The next day, we transfer to Beijing by bullet train with our guide William, who was from Beijing. The train left from Zhengzhou, in a city which the Chinese call the ghost town. It is one of those cities that the Chinese have built and very few people live there. However, recently they have built several universities and schools and hospitals so people are starting to move into the city.
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