Travel Journal

Datong, Pingyao and Xi-An (China)

(Wednesday 12 September 2007) by Lynda
After all the countryside in Mongolia I decided it was time for some culture and took the southern route along some of the oldest cities in China. The first stop was the hanging monastery near Datong, really amazing. This monastery is balancing on outcrops and ridges of an immense cliff and the different buildings are connected with steep and small staircases. Very impressive to walk on these staircases and look down (a steep 50 meters down). The monastery is very well preserved because the cliff has a big overhang to protect it from sun and rain.

Terracotta archer
Terracotta archer
My second stop was the Yungang caves, about 53 of them with 51,000 stone statues. The carving of the statues started in 450 A.C. during the Northern Wei dynasty. And this makes this place very special, realizing how old these statues and caves are and still so beautiful despite the air pollution in the region from the mining industry. Hopefully they will use most of my entrance fee for conservation!

After two days in Datong I traveled further south to Pingyao. Pingyao is an Unesco World Heritage site and it's very clear why! The little town (founded in the 14th century) is so well preserved and even the hostel is located in an old government building from the Ming dynasty. The best thing was riding my bicycle around town and finding my way in the little alleys and along the old city walls. Not a single building in sight that was build in the last century, really love this little town! And what made it more special for me: Pingyao is the cradle for modern banking....... the first bank was set up by rich merchants and traders and played a big role in the 19th and early 20th century. So Rob, if you read this: I found the perfect spot for SPARCK Asia Ltd!!!!

Xuankong Si, Datong
Xuankong Si, Datong
I was a bit reluctant to leave Pingyao but also quite anxious to see Xi-An. Xi-An has been the largest and busiest metropolis for centuries, and from the 11th century B.C. has been the capital of 11 dynasties successively. During the Tang dynasty (618-907) Xi-An was the largest city in the world and the major city on the silk route. I was glad I entered the city during daytime: what a grandeur, really impressive this city with the best drum tower I've seen so far and the city walls are enormous. I'll definitely get a bike tomorrow to explore this city on my own. And this afternoon one of the highlights of my trip to China: The Terracotta Army. I've heard and read a lot about it but nothing can prepare you for the real thing; it's so overwhelming and it's a shame you can't get closer to the statues and walk on your own in the pits. Yes, definitely one of the highlights of my trip. I can write a lot about it but I think it's better if you just take a look at my pictures in the gallery or maybe even better, come here and see for yourself!

  • see for yourself by Karin
  • Hoe lang is een Chinees. by Paula
  • ...en wi is zijn vrouw by Jochem

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