Ancient capital of China

At the tail end of a business trip, I took the liberty to stay an extra half day at 洛阳 (Luoyang) to see the relics and sites. It's a city that doesn't have the same reputation as another ancient capital Xian (of Clinton fame). Nonetheless, it was the capital of 13 ancient Chinese dynasties, including the all important Tang dynasty (that's where Chinatown's Chinese names, Tang ren jie, comes from). The Tang dynasty is when Buddhism entered China and became prominent.

Hence, the 龙门石窟 was born. Basically, they carved huge buddhas on the side of the cliff over the river banks. A truly magnificent site... the only problem was the RMB 80 entrance fee + 50 for a personal guide. I guess they've decided they could milk the foreign tourists and shut out locals from learning about Chinese history. (A guide is absolutely necessary... as well as good walking shoes... and gloves... and patience...)

Longmen (Dragon Gate) Grottoes

By the way, if you are wondering why there isn't anyone there, it's cus its low low season and its about freezing temperature outside. Good for picture taking though.

I know pictures never quite do justice... but if you take a few steps back and take a picture from across the river, you realize how big this structure is. Remember, they did this some 1500 years ago! Truly amazing. It's too bad the even more ancient Xian gets all the attention, because these grottoes should get their due.

View from across the river

关林 Guanlin is a temple/ monastery/ forrest combined to commemorate the great general Guanyu 关羽 from the Three Kingdom period. Legend is that his head is buried in this building. General Guan (no relationship to the General Gao's chicken... seriously, someone asked) was a mere mortal but was given the emporer treatment and then the god treatment due to his tenancity on the battle field and righteousness/ loyalty off it. He's especially worshipped by mob members due to his loyalty to his god brother Liubei 刘备.

Guanlin (Guan's Forrest)
Lastly, I also visted the ancient tomb museum near the airport. I was the only visitor at the complex at the time and it was kind of creepy to walk through ancient tombs by yourself. Anyway, I wish I had more time to explore the place. Somehow, the curators have picked out some 20-30 perfectly preserved (structure wise, Lara Croft took most of the relics) tombs from 1500 to 800 years ago and moved them to this museum. Each tomb can be carefully examined and each offer a different lesson about the ancient times. Layout may reflect changing importance of women, for example. Or the height of the ceiling to reflect the jump in architectual technology. Or this painting on the walls, reflecting the official rank of the deseased...

Wall painting, indicating that a gov official was buried in this space
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Worthwhile city to come back to at some point...!

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