It’s Andy’s turn to travel with us, made him baked beans on toast for breakfast and he sat outside to eat. Carpark attendant looked over his shoulder and asked what he was eating, and Andy said "I don't know" and attendant told him to be very careful eating foreigner’s food because he'd get sick from it! Left our carpark, driving around lotus plinth roundabout and on to highway east. Paid road toll, then one more to leave province… As we drove towards Luoyang Longmen Grottoes, Andy told us there were approximately 600 car deaths every day in China - we were right to be concerned about driving here!
|Adding new meaning to double decker...|
Passed Plains of Yellow Emperor (same colour as dust!) pollution haze thickening as we travelled east. Ongoing trouble getting and receiving gmail and yahoo - frustrating as trying to arrange repair on Webasto stove in Beijing and to pre-order correct parts for 30,000km service in Ulaanbaatar. Morning tea in rest area, back to multitude of trucks carrying high and wide loads, around infrastructure works, travelling alongside wide clay/muddy coloured Yellow River (yellow silt laid down from breakdown of glaciers from Ice Ages apparently). Sudden terrible noise like tyre flapping, pulled over sharply to stop and those behind us laughed over radio and said it was a whole barrage of firecrackers going off on side of road. Senior moment? a huge relief anyway that nothing mechanical had broken down!!
|Gotta love the English translations...|
Stopped in Yuoyang to visit Longmen Grottoes (Dragon's Gate), another UNESCO site listed as "an outstanding manifestation of human artistic endeavour". Pretty walk up Yi River via Longmen Hill on one side and back via Xiangshan Hill on other. In tens of thousands of limestone caves and grottos were carved Buddhas and disciples, some tiny, some gigantic.
|...as can rogues.....|
Climbed up levels to see examples added to site from different dynasties, with different sculptural styles (eg thin and emaciated, to natural and heavily built).
|You go photo me??|
The nine huge statues in the Fengxian (Ancestor Worshipping Cave) are “the ultimate in architectural perfection of the Tang dynasty”, carved at the orders of Empress Wu Zetian. The sculptures in this largest cave of the complex are centred around the 17m high Vairocana Buddha, carved in 676. Wu Zetian is said to have donated "twenty-thousand strings of her rouge and powder money" to complete this edifice, so it is probably in her image – it is termed a “Chinese Mona Lisa, Venus or Mother of China”. Statues of the two principal disciples of Vairocana (Kasyapa and Ananda) and of two Bodhisattvas with crowns flank the main statue, in addition to images of "lokapalas (guardians or heavenly kings), dvarapalas (temple guards), flying devas and numerous other figures." One divine person is captured trampling an evil spirit. Some of the antics and expressions on this well-preserved panorama were captivating!
|Buddhas ears are 2m long!|
There were also carved funerary slabs, medicinal recipes, shrines and pagodas.
|Yep - poison fishing definitely prohibited!|
Too hot and bothered to stay overnight in carpark, decided to get kms up for tomorrow. Back on highway, past good looking crops and fields of wheat, crossing the wide Yellow River, the mother river for people of north (Yangtze is mother river for peoples of south, like Andy). Camped at rest area Jinyuan 70kms further towards our next destination of Pingyao.