Datong Journals

Hanging out in Datong

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A March 2006 trip to Datong by Paul Bacon

Travel Photo by IgoUgo memberMore Photos
Quote: Datong is possibly one of the best-kept secrets in China.

Hanging out in Datong

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Overview

Quote:
Datong itself has few, if any, highlights. It is a dour coal producing city of three million people. However, its highlights lay close by and are less than an hour's bus ride away: (i) The Hanging Monastery. Around 60km from Datong, this monastery attracts visitors primarily because of its bizarre location. It is perched on the side of a near vertical cliff face, supported only by wooden stilts to prevent it collapsing to the ground below. It is not big and takes only a few moments to walk around, but simply the sight of its gravity defying location is worth the trip. (ii) Yungang Grottoes. A series of caves carved out of a solid rock cliff face. They have the look about them of a Buddhist version of ...Read More

Yungang Grottoes

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Attraction

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
There was a local man chattering away in my left ear. As we had walked towards Yungang a few moments earlier he had asked me if he could speak English with me. Since I was travelling alone, I said yes; he would offer some company, and more importantly maybe he could impart some little known wisdom about the Grottoes. However, despite our having had an interesting conversation up until that point, my attention drifted as though drawn by a magnet. Suddenly I found myself transfixed by the most startling of blues. The Yungang Grottoes are a series of caves carved out of a hillside, inside which are a variety of shrines giant Buddhas and other carvings. They are what bets could be described as nothin...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on May 17, 2006

Yungang Grottoes
East of Datong
Datong, China

Hanging Monastery

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Attraction

Travel Photo by IgoUgo member
Quote:
Were Sir Isaac Newton to spend a leisurely afternoon at the Hanging Monstery close to Datong, it is entirely possible that he might just reassess his most famous theory. After my trip I could not possibly fathom how the ancient Buddhist structure has not collapsed. The Hanging Monastery does exactly as its name suggests. It was built onto the side of a mountain, which towers away at a near vertical angle; it is secured to the rock face by a series of long wooden poles, which reach down and rest in various nooks, shelves, and crevices along the cliff. Staring at it from a distance, the stilts give the impression of a rock-climber at full stretch, hanging on by his finger tips to avoid plummeting t...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 17, 2006

Hanging Monastery
East of Datong
Datong, China

Destination Datong

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Story/Tip

Quote:
A map of China is not always the greatest way of judging distances or of plotting out a journey. Some of the distances between major cities and tourist attractions are immense. Coming from England, where the width of mone's thumb can account for the majority of the country as it is represented on a map, perhaps disqualified me from truly understanding the scope of travelling in China. For me overnight train rides and 19 hour journeys are something so alien that I still think of them as exciting novelties, adventures akin to nothing in my homeland. My naivety was clearly exposed as I planned my trip to Datong, home of the spectacular Yungang Grottoes and the curiously built Hanging Monastery. ...Read More

Yungang Grottoes

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Attraction | "Echoes of Petra"

Quote:
I could not suppress the the sense of complete awe I was experiencing as I ambled around the Yungang Grottoes. The series of Buddhist shrines and statues that had been carved out of a solid rock face were one of the most impressive things I had seen in all of China. However, the sense of awe was tempered somewhat by the feeling that there was something else nagging away at my senses. As I continued to peruse the stunning stonework I just could not quite define exactly what it was. It was only as I stood in front of one of the smaller shrines that it began to dawn what I was thinking and feeling. It was a vague sense of deja vu. The Grottoes are situated in the northern tip of Shanxi province, jus...Read More

Yungang Grottoes
East of Datong
Datong, China

Hanging Around, Shooting the Breeze

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Story/Tip

Quote:
I arrived in Datong at around 6pm on a muggy spring evening. After having sifted through countless guidebooks and spent a few hours researching the place on the Net before I departed, I had ascertained that finding cheap, decent accommodation was going to be a problem. With this in mind, when I was greeted at the train station by a representative from the national travel agency CITS I decided to choose the safe option and allow him to find me somewhere to spend the night. I was directed to a modern, but neither especially clean nor inspired venue close to the station. All it could muster was dormitory accommodation without a shower, but thankfully it was incredibly cheap and the whole process of a...Read More