Shanxi Province - Da Tong Trip - Yun Gang Caves

I have been sampling some Chinese beers as of late. This can looks cool and I was pleasantly surrised to find that it is a dark beer!

rode the over night train to Da Tong. 6 hrs. Da Tong is a coal mining town, it has a couple mines around it. 3 million people. 2 power plants. 1 powers Beijing. Tons of coal everywhere. As soon as you step outside you can smell coal. Pollution is super bad there. Da Tong is on a list of cities to get cleaned up by the govt. It is the dirtiest and most ghetto city i've been in China and probably the world so far. There was just garbage everywhere, overall people's knowledge of sanitation is a lot lower. But we didn't go there for the city!

much to my dismay I found that the over night trains are not like the ones to Shanghai. there is no compartment door. everyone can just walk by and watch you sleeping. also the turned the lights off on the whole train immediately. So we had to read books standing up in btwn the cars where there was light.

sometimes in china they just put the pinyin and the chinese characters. the only people this helps is people like me who haven't studied characters but know speaking and listening. all others are out of luck and you can kiss your fingers goodbye.

reading books inbtwn cars. Lily runs two book clubs in Beijing and we got them to read "guns, germs, and steel" I have wanted to read that book and now I have the motivation to. It is the first book i have read since "jonathan livingston seagull" in 6th grade 15 yrs ago.

this is the only pic i have of the phone numbers all over the walls in Da Tong. this is not a good representation by far. Walls all over are litterally covered with big numbers, little numbers, everywhere. We asked one taxi driver and he said they were advertisements and said no one really uses them. we asked but then why are there so many everywhere if no one uses them and how do you know what they advertise? an unaccepable anwer was given and so it is still a mystery. if someone knows please do tell

across from our hotel.

next to the hotel. probably from the "snack" cart nearby. Don't they know that you don't Sh!t in your own backyard? there were also people urinating on various walls about town too. didn't get to take photos of all the grossness everywhere because I was in a taxi most of the time driving by. I am hating on Da Tong but it was a good experience to see a "real" chinese city.

at the Yun Gang Caves. another example of why i like Asia so much. the designs and aesthetics of their art, characters, mythology, religion, etc... are so different than the west. and that is what i am seeking out in my life i guess.

The Yun Gang caves are home to the "grottoes" i don't know what grottos means but they are these enclaves with these carvings of buddah. there are something like 1000 niches, 53 caves and 51,000 scultures the smallest are 2 cm high. The whole thing is sandstone and has been around or 1500 yrs. Interesting thing is they have indian, and greek influences. Indians and other foreigners were brought in to carve these. In one cave they had either vishnu or shiva riding on a chinese dragon holding a chicken and the sun.
It's kind of like a big eastern religion party because there are also images of hindi gods all over the place too.

there is a guy sitting down in the lower right corner for scale of how big these were.

i didn't know they had gorillas in China in 500 AD

here is Bi Xi again, 1st of 9 sons of the dragon, a turtle with a dragon head carrying scripts on his back

lots of the carvings are weather worn and their faces are blown away, doesn't help that they are made out of sand stone

back in the city there is a 9 dragon screen. they believed that evil spirits could only travel in straight lines so they installed this screen in front of the Prince's house to deflect them. the dragons only have 4 claws instead of 5 showing that a Prince lives there.

this local beer named after the caves was pretty good actually

Mutton hot pot, one of the things you're supposed to eat in Shanxi province.

Was able to get in a lantern festival afterall. Not a very good one but at least I got one in and amazingly it was free.

this looks pretty creepy and looks like it is a story just like all of the other displays. If Angel were there she would probably be able to tell us all the stories.
this looks like some story about a Koi fish jumping over some gate. I will probably never know


Richard Grauer said...

A grotto means that it is a cave (natural or artificial)and is associated with modern, historic or prehistoric use by humans.