Bingling Si & Chinese Curiosity
Xiahe Travel Blog› entry 8 of 16 › view all entries
Ok just realised I forgot all about the caves at Bingling Si. I think this was before Lanzhou. They arent really caves just plenty of budhist carvings carved into a cliff face (the centre piece being one gigantic carving of buddha - wikipedia tells me its around 30m...huh...it felt bigger than that!). The scenery here was some of the best on the whole trip to Kathmandu, and Im not sure it would have been worth the trip to Bingling Si for the carvings alone.
At some point when we were still very much in central China, on one of the long driving days we stopped in a completely anonymous chinese town for lunch and we hit the peak of Chinese curiosity with the westerners. I dont think theyve ever had westerners in this town let alone a truck load. We split up into small groups of 4-6 people so that it would put less strain on whichever chinese cafe we went to. In our restaurant 4 of us caused a real stir (or so we thought). Everyone stared at us as we came in, and as time went by word seemed to be getting round the building there were westerners here, as the kitchen staff started driftin out (and there were loads of them! I cant see why they needed so many staff for such a small restaurant but thats just how China is). They just sorta watched us for a while and the ones which could remember a bit of English werent shy in trying to talk to us. So we finished our meal and walked back to the bus, when outside another restaurant we saw one of the other groups from our truck, plus all the staff from this restaurant lined up outside for a photo! It was being done really professionally too with Chefs standing at the back, waitresses in the middle row, and a row of chairs at the front for the foreigners, with the restaurant manager in the middle of the front row. There was also a woman taking charge and putting everyone in position (I think someone said she might have even been from the local press?). They actually closed the restaurant while they did all this. So when we saw all this our little group all got in the photo too :) The idea of this photo is funny anyway but what really makes me laugh looking back is just how pissed off every single one of the waitresses looks! Someone came up with the theory that the restaurant would hang the photo on their wall with the caption 'our food is SO good that people travel from all over the world to come here!'. When we finally made it back to the truck some of the others were entertaining themselves with a game a of hackysack while they waited for us. And they had a circle of chinese people watching them, plus people hanging out of windows and watching from their shops and cars...everywhere you looked!