Ben and Kirsteen's World Trip 2005/6 travel blog

The 17m tall carved Buddha

View from the other side of the river. Each hole contains many...

Incense burners at the White Horse Temple

6301 was a popular number at the hotel

B: We left on a bus from Luoyang for the Longmen Grottoes. Our local guide, Jeff, had an inferiority complex when it came to his home town. He was particularly scathing about Xi'an's claims to fame. The Grottoes are ancient Buddhist carvings in the limestone cliffs. Originally, there were 100,000 images of Buddha on these cliffs carved over thousands of years however, in the last couple of hundred years many were chipped off and taken to Western museums. Further destruction happened at Chinese hands during the Cultural Revolution (more about this later). The largest carving was paid for by an empress and stands 17m tall. It was very impressive. During the day we saw tens of thousands of Buddhas and by the end we were getting Buddha-blindness.

After the Grottoes, we headed off to the White Horse Temple. The site is where the first Buddhist temple was setup in China. The scrolls of Buddhism were brought here from India 2000 years ago on two white horses. The monks then went about translating these scriptures into Chinese and spreading the word of Buddhism. The religion petered out in India and did not pick up again until 600 years later making these Buddhist scrolls the oldest in the world.

The Cultural Revolution in China took place in between 1966 and 1971. Dutring this time anything which and anyone who was against the views of Mao and his Communist Party was destroyed. The "four olds" - old customs, old habits, old culture and old thinking were to be removed. During this time, the White Horse Temple was raised to the ground and the scriptures burnt. Many other attrocities happened and most will never be known in the West. Even now, the official Communist Party line is the Mao was 70% right and 30% wrong; given the spin on this, you can imagine just how bad he was.

K: Had cause to use the term Outrageous today! James, one of our tour members, unfortunately removed a used water bottle from his day bag at the checkout of a supermarket and the till girl got very excited - two supervisors later its clear that they think he has drunk it from the store and will not accept the explanation that he had it before. Unbelieveable, he has to buy his own empty bottle at the store price to be able to leave the market! If we had not been so hungry I would have put it all back as a solidarity protest!

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