Sunday, April 10, 2016


Due to technical difficulties (i.e. wifi woes), blogging was difficult for part of the trip. So, I am backing up to our Zhengzhou time and day trips from there. Some cool stuff in Jackie's area of central China, considered the cradle of Chinese civilization. Luoyang, where we visited the Longmen Grottoes, was the capital of 13 dynasties, starting in 2100 BC. Sadly, not much remains, and it is mostly an industrial city now. Back in the heyday, the compass, gunpowder and paper were all developed here, along with their first astrological calendar. The grottoes include about 100,000 carvings of Buddha and his protectors, the boddhisattvas, on a limestone cliff face, most of them carved between 600 and 900 AD, but the carvings were completed over 900 years. We did this excursion on our own, via fast "G" train and taxi. Made a quick stop to the old city gate and streets after the grottoes. Pretty easy DIY, and everything felt safe, just like it did wherever we went in China.

view of the grottoes from across the Yi River

                                   This Buddha has been making the peace sign for 2000 years. We wondered if this is where the peace finger sign originated.

This protector dude was about 3 stories high...

The other day trip from Zhengzhou was one of the highlights of our trip. We hired a guide, Timothy Zhao, because this hike was not one that was well-documented in my pre-trip research, but I had seen just enough of it to know that this was a landscape we had to explore!! We hiked the Sanhuangzhai section of Song Shan Mountain, one of the five sacred Chinese mountains. First, we went to Shaolin Temple, where kung fu originated, and took a new Swiss cable car up to the start of the trail. A hot bowl of noodles, a warm beer, and we were off!!

 It looks scary, but the railings were strong and path wide enough, lined with flagstone. Glad I didn't have to haul those up there!!!

 Our super guide, Tim, holding our little Cheesehead in China! Tim spoke great English and was an interesting companion. You can see the vats of noodles with herbs behind him, which we ate for our pre-hike sustenance.
Tom was mobbed on this trail. We were the only westerners, and the college age kids who were hiking thought he was an NBA star, I think. Many photo breaks. 

This was a Buddhist temple, at the end of the trail. Restoration was only finished about 1 1/2 years ago.
Peace to you, Grasshopper....

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