Yungang Caves and the Hanging Monastery
Datong Travel Blog› entry 46 of 658 › view all entries
People i met here, who contributed to and improved my trip: Juliana (Russia)
We arrived into a snowy Datong around 5.30am and checked in to Feitian Binguan hotel. We caught another couple of hours sleep before jumping on a bus out to the remarkable Yungang Caves. I'd never heard of these before, but had been tipped off by Portia to take a look and i was not left disappointed.
The Caves were constructed over 1500 years ago and contain more than 50,000 Buddhist statues, the highest a 17m seated Buddha. We spent several hours exploring the kilometre stretch of 40+ caves, giving most attention to the largest and most impressive first 20. Every time you entered a cave and left feeling there couldn't be anything more impressive.
We eventually dragged ourselves away after several hours, mainly due to the freezing cold, which on the plus side had kept all but a handful of other tourists away. Consulting our (frustrating, useless, inaccurate, yet sometimes lifesaving and reassuring) Lonely Planet, we set out in search of part of the Great Wall, situated approximately 15 minutes East of the Caves. No local had heard of this and we certainly couldn't find the site, so we gave up after 30 minutes and headed back to Datong, where we went and took a look at a large 9 Dragon Screen and then the Drum Tower. This was enough for one day, so we headed back to the hotel to relax.
On Sunday we decided to use public transport to get out to the Hanging Monastery, which although effective, took much longer than anticipated. Firslty, it took us over an hour to find the correct bus station, this was followed by another couple of hours on a bus then taxi. The site itself was quite impressive, built 1400 years ago into the face of a cliff. Even though the Monastery had stood for so long and was undoubtedly safe, there was still a nagging thought in your mind that any second it would fall off the cliff edge! After half an hour clambering around in the freezing cold, we decided it was time to head back to the warmth of a Datong restaurant, for some sweet and sour chicken. This was the first meal i ate that i really got the impression that at last i was a master of the chopstick and not it of me!
Some time was spent on the internet, followed by another restaurant, anything to avoid the sub zero temperatures outside. Soon it was time to jump onto a night train, this time, destination Pingyao.