Datong Day Two

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October 5th 2010
Published: October 11th 2010
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Yungang Caves1Yungang Caves1Yungang Caves1

Some original pigment on the stone.
So are you tired of me yet!?! I know I just posted yesterday but have to show you what I saw today. Plus there is only one english channel, CCTV, and really, it's only news. So with that, on to the blog!

Today I did go to the Yungang Caves as I mentioned yesterday. My guide book stated there are 51,000 Buddha statues and although I didn't count, I wouldn't be surprised by that number. There are 45 caves that can be viewed but there were 252 in total at one time. Many of the caves are showing erosion from water and many of the statues inside no longer look as they once did. Work began on the caves in 460 AD and continued for 60 years. Some of these statues are in remarkable shape and make any person of any religion stop and take in the marvel of it all. Some of the caves still have original pigment, those are protected the most. There is one cave that houses a seated Buddha that is the largest at over 17 metres high. I was told that 120 men could stand on Buddha's knees from end to end. One thing that
Yungang Caves2Yungang Caves2Yungang Caves2

More original pigment with the statues looking incredibly preserved.
was beautiful in addition to everything was almost every cave contains the 1000-Buddha motif which is tiny Buddhas seated in niches. One entire cave was nothing but those 1000-Buddha motifs. An awe-inspiring place!

Then this afternoon I went to the Hanging Monastery and that place did NOT disapoint. Built on the side of a mountain and held in place with long support stilts. I was told that they began building it in 490 AD and it took 30 years. They lowered men from the top of the mountain on ropes, they dug holes into the cliff face and inserted beams horizontally in place. Once there were enough beams, they were able to build the structure. I only had one moment of 'what am I doing?!' As you can see, there are three levels, you enter at the base level and walk along to the end, climb stairs up to the next level and so on. My 'what' moment came when I was standing at that base level and noticed that the beams were shaking from the people moving above. Then I start to do the math of how many are up there, what they weigh, is this thing sturdy
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1000-Buddha motif
enough?!?! After all, I presume it was built for a few monks to hang out and pray, not hundreds of tourists. I sucked it up and thought, 'if this is how I go out, that's okay.' Obviously, all is fine, I'm in my guesthouse typing with all ten fingers. One other thing I've recognized is that I'm not fearful of crowds (Beijing) and now know I'm not afraid of heights as you'll see later.

Okay, that's it for now and I promise there will be at least a day between posts now... Hope you like the pics.

Additional photos below
Photos: 18, Displayed: 18


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Yungang Caves4

I loved the little Buddha holding up the hand. I'm sure it was to support the weight but I thought that was super cute!
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Yungang Caves5

This was inside the cave that was nothing but 1000-Buddha motifs. be thankful I'm only posting one, I have lots more...
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Yungang Caves6

More carvings
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Yungang Caves7

The size and intricacy of some of the Buddhas was awesome.
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Yungang Caves8

Another shot of the Buddha from picture 7
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Yungang Caves9

This was the 17m tall Buddha, wish there were something for scale. My neck hurt looking up at it.
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Yungang Caves10

I loved the faces on these two carvings, something about the lips or round face, just loved them!
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Yungang Caves11

Again, more pigment and detail of the carvings.
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Hanging Monastery1

Pictures just don't do it justice.
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Hanging Monastery3

Just look at those stilts, just amazing!
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Hanging Monastery4

Let the picture speak for itself.
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Hanging Monastery5

Yes, there were a lot of people up there...
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Hanging Monastery6

That is a loooooong way down... and not a real sturdy handrail either. Let's just say I didn't lean over too far.
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Hanging Monastery7

This was just after I saw the stilts shaking, needed to distract myself so I took a picture.
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Hanging Monastery8

Lots of people snaking their way along. Not a lot of extra room...

5th October 2010

Cool Cheryl! Love the pics and blog...
5th October 2010

Hey Cheryl
Hi Cheryl...sounds like your having a wonderful time. I feel like I'm getting a geography/history lesson from your posts, so keep em coming. Miss ya...be safe.
5th October 2010

Cheryl, I am now telling everyone I know about how brave and fascinating you are. Although I have never had the urge to travel to the Yungang Caves - I do now. I will live through you until I gainthe courage to quit my job and tackle the world! love, CJ
5th October 2010

WOW !!! You are going to have a lot of scrapbooking to catch up on when you get home !!
5th October 2010

Braver than me
Hi Cheryl Lovely to be following your blog, going to send on to Morag and Laurie if that is ok. When I told them you were travelling, they thought it was going to be Ireland - so that must be next time. I truly believe that there is much more travel for you and you will end up meeting a man abroad and living abroad. The pictures are stunning, but made me giddy just looking at them, thank you for sharing as this is the only way I would be experiencing it - I hate hieghts. Keep it coming Px
5th October 2010

Hanging Monastery
Great photos. I don' know where you find the time to download them every day. I have a few years of memory chips that haven't been downloaded yet. I would have checked out when they last replaced the stilts and beams holding the hanging monastery up there before venturing out for a stroll. I hope that they are not the original ones from 1500 years ago....
5th October 2010

Hey Cheryl, You makes me want to travel..... Would you still not be afraid of crowds if everyone was your height? Ha! You must be quite tall by comparison. Heights? Don't get along well with them. My feet hurt just looking at your pics. I have to agree with your assessment of the stilts. Built for 125 pound grasshoppers that don't leave foot prints or impressions in rice paper (see Kung Fu - episode 2). Glad you made it out safe! Rub a belly for me please. Aloha.....
7th October 2010

Very impressive!! Never even heard of this place...hope I get there. You know....the thing that really amazes me the most about all these things...the caves and the carvings and the hanging Monastery is all the work that went into it and how many people must have spent ALL of their time doing this stuff probably whether they wanted to or not and possibly against their own will. I feel kind of bad...even thought they created such beauty it makes their lives seem so un-precious and meaningless....so unfair.......lol.....I'm having and existential moment here!!Sorry!! BTW you write very well.
7th October 2010

Finally got a chance to get on the laptop to send a quick note to you. The pictures are awesome. Hard to beleive this stuff still exists after all the crap that has gone on in the world. Have you had the old ladies purse surgically removed yet? That line cracked me up and yes it did look insanely jammed with people. At least you could see above it all! It looks like you are having a great time and enjoying it to the max. The adventure justs gets better and better and still so much to see, you may never come back. Let me know and I can sell some of your stuff and send you the cash. The weather here has been phenomenal , shorts everyday! having lots of fun with Miika and friends. Trip is going fast but as always getting lots done. Enjoy the ride it may be your last chance to have authentic chinese food. Take care and love you. D
8th October 2010

I agree with Cindy!
Hi Cheryl, I'm loving this process of following your adventures and can't help but agree with Cindy... you ARE brave and fascinating. You're living the life girl! Great pics that give a good sense of space and the awe factor. Want to hear about the food. Bring it on!
6th January 2011

Happy New Year!
Hey Cheryl, OK...It's been confirmed, YOU ARE CRAZY... but the good crazy...LOL! Well I can see what you are up to, just an update on me, I moved on to Crescent Point back in October and things are good! I'm thinking you will be heading back soon...get in touch...of course you will be busy with the 'scrapbooking', but you will have to take the odd break (again, LOL). Take care...

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