Day 61. I arrived in Luoyang, the city that was home to 13 dynasties. These are the highlights of the city and the nearby things to see.
Longmeng Stone Grottos
If you are excited about tens of thousands of buddhist statues carved into stone then this is heaven. It’s shame that that thousands of these statues were destroyed and demolished due to natural reason, external invasion and revolutions. And it’s an even bigger shame that the cheapest water is sold for 5 Yuan, when thirsty kids are smoldering in the sun. One of the reasons to avoid AAAAA destinations. It seems the nicer the places, the more greedy the people become. Some will try to cheat you, e.g. by offering taxi rides into the scenic area. But don’t let anybody fool you, the shuttle bus to the caves is for free!
Luoyang MuseumHuge. A stunning museum in the middle of Luoyang. Huge and climatized it offers myriads of ancient relics. Such an amazing place, for free. I totally wouldn’t mind spending money for such an amazing museum.
Temple of the White Horse
This temple complex is astonishing. Temples from China, Myanmar, India, Thailand are constructed within the area. If you have time, you can even stay and practice meditation. An absolutely phenomenal place.
Tombs of the Nine DynastiesAlso this attraction is for free. And it offers an amazing experience since the tombs are all under the earth. Strolling around for hours, the exhibition displays dozens of graves from emperors of different dynasties. Culturally, Luoyang becomes one of the highlights. It would have been great to also go to Kaifeng but time slowly becomes an enemy, so I decided to save Kaifeng for another time and continue riding to the South.
When a foreigners thinks of Shaolin Temple, he might think of the monks living up in the mountains, training hard in a picturesque surrounding. The truth is, Shaolin is an adventure park. A Kung Fu attraction that left me disappointed once I arrived on the site. It’s a perfect example for showing how commercialization can ruin a place. And it’s not the only one in China. Not ruin in the sense that it doesn’t look nice. In contrast, it looks almost like a film set. I was just waiting for the Kungfu Show, which you can indeed see once who pay the exaggerated entrance fee.Kungfu Festivals, that started from the early 1980s. The time when Shaolin became world famous. Since then, every year thousands of martial arts fans from all around the world come to Shaolin Temple. It must have been amazing. In the beginning. But slowly, the former cultural mountains transformed into something else. The words Shaolin seems to resemble as much a brand as it stands for a cultural heritage.Personally, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Wanda Group would buy the whole mountain and calls is “Wanda Kungfu Park”. Cable Cars, Martial Art Shows, Battery Cars, Dicos at the entrance, Kungfu courses for foreigners and of course, hotels.What I want to express is that the thousands of years old Shaolin culture does not deserve to become just another victim of shameless exploitation of the tourism industry. The preservation of the relics inside the area is only topped by the commercialization as another AAAAA tourist spot. In the spacious tourist center, there are projector rooms recounting the story of Shaolin from past to present, which in my eyes rather reflect a cultural tragedy than an economic success story. However, standing in front of this world famous places that I’ve got to know from an early age and not going in puts me in front of a dilemma.By not entering this sacred place I might be able to keep an imagination of the beauty of this place instead getting my inner picture ruined by the ugly truth that reality has turned it into. Nevermind, lets look ahead. It’s just about half the way to Sanya. Let’s get back to work and ride!