Blog post about travel in Luo Yang
During the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday in China I decided to take a solo trip to a city with a long history and many attractions. Situated on the Yellow River, the birthplace of Chinese culture, Luo Yang is an interesting city that is both old and modern. Walking down the many streets and alley ways of Luo Yang I was surprised to see more writing in traditional Chinese (繁体字) than simplified (简体字). It seems as if the city decided to keep its cultural roots and disregard the latest changes to the written script. As one would expect, a city without much simplified Chinese was also a city without much English. Another layer of confusion came from the thick accent that most of the residents of Luo Yang spoke in. Thankfully, with good signage and a helpful map, I was able to get around the city. The three big attractions of Luo Yang are the Longmen Grottos, The White Horse Temple, and the Water Banquet (The first two are historical sites and the last one a delicious medley of soup-based dishes).
The Longmen Grottos are a set of grottos carved into the walls of a canyon with a long river running through it. There is a long staircase carved into the mountain up to a giant statue of Buddha. Both the size and scope of the grottos were breathtaking. Although the grottos were amazing, the focus of everyone around me was not on the carvings but on me. It was a unique experience in that I finally got the feeling that I was a stranger in a strange land (人生地不熟). Far from the international coast, Luo Yang doesn’t get as many foreigners as some of the other big cities in China. For the entire day at the Longmen Grottos, I ended up talking to people in both English and Chinese, snapping pictures with locals, tourists, and their babies. Needless to say, by the time I dragged myself out of the grottos I was ready for a hearty dinner of Luo Yang’s famous soups.