Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Datong, China- Day 108-110: Dealing with excessive attention

Since arriving at Datong - a north eastern town in China, we have been overwhelmed with the attention that Isaac gets. We thought Turkey was excessive but Datong hits the ball out of the park. T and I are trying our best to politely ask people to stop taking pictures of Isaac. On our last day in Datong we were stalked by a hotel guest who insisted on gifting Isaac 1000 RMB ($146) which eventually led to an intervention by the hotel staff.

The picture above was taken when we went to laundromat to enquire about laundry services. In a few minutes we were surrounded by 12 or 15 locals staring and running after Isaac.

Datong is a coal mining town that ranks as one of the most polluted cities in China. Our main incentive to stop in Datong (enroute to Beijing) was to see the Yungang Grottoes - a collection of shallow caves with over 50,000 carved images and statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas which are over a 1000 years old. Apparently they closely resemble the Buddha statues that have been destroyed in Iraq.

About a 2 hours drive away is the Hanging Temple built into a steep cliff face near Mount Heng which dates to the 4th century. They were built above groundlevel so as to avoid being washed away in floods common at the time. At first glance the monastery looks precarious but were told that the horizontal beams that support the structure have been inserted deep into the rocks and the vertical beams (that look like they are holding up the temple) are merely decorative.

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