How many buddhas does it take to change a...
Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
9Trip End Apr 14, 2006
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So, Luoyang. Well, on the whole, it's a pretty unremarkable city. It seems to me that every damn city in China has had a turn at being the capital city of a dynasty at some time or another. It's kinda like Sale of the Century where, if you win, you become carry-over-champion until you get beaten by the next person. Well, Luoyang was carry-over-champion once, but it probably only went home with the random gold pendant that all losers get. Certainly no car or gold bullion for Luoyang. Rather, the city seems remarkable in its unremarkableness (unremarkabless?). It's as standard as a 7 million person city can be. Having dwindled down to only about 20,000 people in 1920, the city has become an industrial power, by the will of Beijing more than anything, and been rejuvinated. What's amazing is that it's one of probably 20, 30, maybe 40 cities of similar size in China - perhaps an archetype of the modern Chinese City.
So why am I here then? For the ominous sounding "Dragon Gate Grottoes" (Longmen shiku)of course. Back in the day, the emperors created a whole mass of caves and niches in a mountain just out of Luoyang. In this 1km stretch, there are apparently hundreds of thousands of rock carvings of buddha. In creating this site, they also tried to answer the age old question - are 10,000 mini buddhas better than 1 ridiculously large buddha? Well, it seems they were unable to answer the question, so they did both. Buddhas. Everywhere. Brilliant.
The grottoes? Memorable indeed. But just as memorable is this random pub that I went to in Luoyang. Firstly, Lionel Richie comes on
Meanwhile, I'm dying for a cold, full strength beer. I'll even settle for an EB. Beer in China? Midstrength and warm. Killing me.
So, following this, I'm going to TaiShan, another mountain. My body is complaining and rebelling, as are my shoes, which are threatening to fall apart on the way up TaiShan. I have told them that it would be the perfect send off. But i definitely need to speak to my personal assistant because whoever planned my itinerary (2 mountains - 5 days?) needs to do some explaining...
So, to the Top 5. As a preface to the Top 5, just let me say, that I'm sure there will be people saying 'who is he to comment on this Top 5'. Ok - so perhaps i'm not particularly qualified, but in any event, these are observations that I feel are necessary to share with all. So - to the topic - Top 5 questionable fashion choices / trends seen in CHina so far:
5. Frizzy hair - the kids love it. It looks awful.
4. Fully grown women feeling compelled to wear cutesy clothes - Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, Winnie the Pooh. What?
3. Foreigners wearing revolutionary clothing.
2. Purple velvet jumpsuit.
1. One foot sneaker, one foot boot.