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Datong Day Two

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Published: October 11th 2010

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Some original pigment on the stone.

So are you tired of me yet!?! I know I just posted yesterday but have to show you what I saw today. Plus there is only one english channel, CCTV, and really, it’s only news. So with that, on to the blog!

Today I did go to the Yungang Caves as I mentioned yesterday. My guide book stated there are 51,000 Buddha statues and although I didn’t count, I wouldn’t be surprised by that number. There are 45 caves that can be viewed but there were 252 in total at one time. Many of the caves are showing erosion from water and many of the statues inside no longer look as they once did. Work began on the caves in 460 AD and continued for 60 years. Some of these statues are in remarkable shape and make any person of any religion stop and take in the marvel of it all. Some of the caves still have original pigment, those are protected the most. There is one cave that houses a seated Buddha that is the largest at over 17 metres high. I was told that 120 men could stand on Buddha’s knees from end to end. One thing that

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More original pigment with the statues looking incredibly preserved.

was beautiful in addition to everything was almost every cave contains the 1000-Buddha motif which is tiny Buddhas seated in niches. One entire cave was nothing but those 1000-Buddha motifs. An awe-inspiring place!

Then this afternoon I went to the Hanging Monastery and that place did NOT disapoint. Built on the side of a mountain and held in place with long support stilts. I was told that they began building it in 490 AD and it took 30 years. They lowered men from the top of the mountain on ropes, they dug holes into the cliff face and inserted beams horizontally in place. Once there were enough beams, they were able to build the structure. I only had one moment of ‘what am I doing?!’ As you can see, there are three levels, you enter at the base level and walk along to the end, climb stairs up to the next level and so on. My ‘what’ moment came when I was standing at that base level and noticed that the beams were shaking from the people moving above. Then I start to do the math of how many are up there, what they weigh, is this thing sturdy

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1000-Buddha motif

enough?!?! After all, I presume it was built for a few monks to hang out and pray, not hundreds of tourists. I sucked it up and thought, ‘if this is how I go out, that’s okay.’ Obviously, all is fine, I’m in my guesthouse typing with all ten fingers. One other thing I’ve recognized is that I’m not fearful of crowds (Beijing) and now know I’m not afraid of heights as you’ll see later.

Okay, that’s it for now and I promise there will be at least a day between posts now… Hope you like the pics.


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