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Datong

Written on: Friday November 9th, 2007

A journal entry from: Around The World Without A Plane

If we thought Beijing was polluted then we had'nt inhaled anything yet. We'd both already contracted runny noses, but the air in Datong was something else. Most of China still depends on coal as it's primary fuel and Datong certainly isn't short of coal. The air is a grey, meloncholy hue, the buildings if they didn't start off dull are dull now, and all the cars are thickly clotted in soot residue.

We arrived early morning and on speaking to the CITS (China International Travel Services) were booked in over the road at the Feitian Hotel, complete with a hole in the ground for a toliet, no shower and no locked door. It wasn't long though before we scarpered from the hotel room and ventured out on a guided tour to the Xuankong Si or the Hanging Temple, which is a pretty cool 600 year old temple suspended on the side of a cliff, uniquely embracing all 3 of the Chinese religions, Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.

After a great lunch (I've surprised myself by mastering the art of chopsticks), we took off to the Yungang Caves, where a series of over 50 Buddhist shrines had been carved, some over 1500 years ago. Alot of them are very similar but some of the bigger caves were incredible, especially if you imagine how long they must have taken to create so much intricate detail.

Once inside the bus Dave and I, after not having much sleep the night previous, once again passed out, then strolled the centre of Datong, where we were even more of a tourist attraction then we were in Beijing.

Datong itself is responsible for producing a third of all China's coal, (incase you didn't know it already, China is a pretty big country) so the air is bound to be polluted. Sadly because of this it's just impossible to stay in the place for more than a couple of days, which was plenty long enough for us to see what we wanted to see and jump on yet another over-night sleeper train, this time to Xian where the Terrcotta Army await our arrival.