By Julianne Keskey
After a few days of work (and a little play) in Luoyang, we were all curious and ready to explore more of Henan Province. With our complimentary bus tour, our first stop was the Longmen Grottoes just outside of Luoyang. Chilly rain and fog greeted us when just days ago the weather was beautiful, sunny and warm. Clad with ponchos and umbrellas, we began our walk along the Yi River to the famous Buddha-filled caves.
Along the walk we passed under this grand tree filled with mini-red lanterns.
Beautiful koi ponds hug the limestone cliffs. We watched rain droplets dance across the surface of the calm water.
Longmen grottoes are a huge tourist attraction- look at that rainbow of umbrellas! They are the largest collection of Chinese art of the late Northern Wei and Tang Dynasties (years 316-907) and include over 2,000 caves filled with more than 100,000 carved Buddhas!
The cliffs were completely adorned with the most intricately carved buddhas. It was the most impressive thing I had ever experienced.
A 15 minute walk along small cave carvings led us to the most magnificent (and HUGE) statues. It was a decent trek up steep stairs in the rainy cold but the journey was worth it! I was speechless, standing underneath these amazing giants. Their detailed faces radiated a wave of energy I needed. Our stop here, because of weather and a late start, was limited to 5 minutes, but I was rebellious and made it 10.
By the time we reached Kaifeng, we were famished. We walked through this lovely indoor market with a bright blue sky painted on the ceiling. It was a nice contrast from the foggy and drizzling reality we faced outside.
We had another fun lunch of items I’d never imagined. This cod was interesting. On the shores of Lake Superior we had a type called “suckers” which makes sense now; some cod are bottom feeders, giving them an earthy, muddy taste when cooked. This, plus the shark tripe were added to my list of “Things I Was Happy to Try Once.”
This camel seemed more than content to greet curious visitors.
A river runs throughout the park with beautiful replica ships and shops along the boardwalk. This tourist attraction wasn’t as bustling as the previous one because of the rain. The rain added a sense of whimsy to our exploration.
By day’s end I was ready to crawl into my giant, cozy hotel bed. But first, a drink at the bar was in order. We all dropped off our bags, quickly changed out of our wet clothes and met up once more for a night cap. Once I saw my room I nearly decided not to meet my friends. The marble bathroom has a recessed bathtub. Though we only had about 8 hours in the hotel, I had to try that tub. I kept my promise and made it to the bar for a couple of Chinese beers, sharing some good laughs about our crazy day. I then excused myself early and I swam in that tub until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.
The morning came too quickly, but I stepped out onto my balcony, refreshed by the hotel’s beautiful grounds. It was too short a stay but just what we all needed before starting another bustling day.