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Email: Update from China – Luoyang

«Luoyang

Date: Thursday, 27 September 2001 05:30 PDT
Subject: Update from China

Hello Everyone!

It is Thursday night and we are in Luoyang, which is southwest of Beijing. We arrived here late last night after a 10 hour train ride in “hard class”. It was very interesting. Hard class is not necessarily the seats (they were padded) but it refers to the cheapest seats of travel – one the Chinese use. We had three people facing each other in an open carriage. We met some very nice people who could not speak any English and of course we can’t speak much Chinese, so we got along by motioning and pointing to our phrasebook. At one point in the journey, a young woman who is bilingual got on and then we could carry a conversation. People were crowded all around as we spoke. It is strange being the center of attention. The nice people we met shared their roast duck and apples with us and we found out where they were from by showing them a map. It was a long ride but really fun to meet typical Chinese.

We are finding we have our limits on how cheap we can go. We arrived at 11:00pm into town and went to a hotel across the street from the train station that was Y100 ($12.50) for a night. We were very tired so we stayed there but switched to a more upscale (Y240) hotel tonight. The other one was really dumpy. We took a picture of the bathroom in case anyone wants to see the gory details.

Today we went to the Caves of the Longman which are hundreds of Buddha cave carvings done in 600 to 800 AD. The highlight was a giant Buddha that is 17 meters tall surrounded by other 3D characters. There was no one there so we had the place to ourselves.

We just got back from dinner in the old part of town. We went to several food stalls and got some bread, a bowl of noodles and the local beer. We then sat at some small tables and benches and enjoyed. We took a taxi between the hotel and old town for about $3.00 each way. It took about a half hour in each direction. You take your life into your hands with the taxi drivers here – it makes the Indiana Jones ride look pedestrian!

Tomorrow afternoon we have tickets for a five hour hard class train ride to Xian – home of the Terracotta Warriors (Darren: perhaps the greatest archeological find of the last century).

We will try to send another update in a couple of days!
Sandy (and Darren)