Day 30

Trip Start Sep 14, 2006
1
30
169
Trip End ??? ??, 2007


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Where I stayed
Luoyang Youth Hostel

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

First thing this morning, we switched hostels from the miserable Mingyuan to the clean and friendly (but equally deserted Luoyang Youth Hostel). I think we're the only guests, and we're staying in the cheapest room - the dorm. The dorm is for 8 people but since we're the only guests Steve and I have it to ourselves. Internet is cheap here too so I was able to use Skype and phone some friends and family back home.

We headed out to the Longmen Grottoes (or caves as the guidebook calls them). We knew we needed the #81 bus to take us the 12km out of Luoyang to the caves, what we didn't know was where to catch it from. It took us a good half hour to work this out, all the while we were being hassled by touts who thought we were looking for transport to the Shaolin Monastery nearby. The bus was cheap as is gets 1 yuan or 8 pence for an hour drive!

The Longmen Grottoes are a collection of buddhas all carved into two riverside cliff faces. It's a good two mile walk around the site, with over 100,000 images of the buddha there. Some are the size of a finger, some are 18 metres tall - all are very impressive. Again it was a misty day. It's beginning to dawn on me that all this isn't mist, it's just pollution, a feature of China's huge economic growth. On the second cliff face, there is a temple at the top - it was a tiring climb but well worth it. A strategically placed drinks vendor at the top relieved us of 12 yuan for a couple of well deserved ice teas. Longmen is a much quieter place than Beijing's or Xi'an's attractions and we're thankful of that! We got some street food and caught the #81 back to Luoyang.

In the evening we met up with Malin and Kasja, who had caught the train from Xi'an. We told them on the phone to forfeit their reservation and deposit and the Mingyuan hostel and join us at the Luoyang Hostel. They had trouble finding it, and seemed more stressed by the relentless Luoyang touts, but a friendly local couple came to their rescue and I met them all in the street outside the hostel. It was good to meet up with them again and we went out for food. At the restaurant Steve needed the loo but couldn't get the waitresses to show him where the toilets were. Steve had to resort to amateur dramatics and did the only action a man can do to show that he needed a wee! All the waitresses burst out laughing and one ran off in hysterics - Steve's indignity didn't stop there as he was led outside and told to go in the alley.
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