The Matching Game

I wake up early to get breakfast before the taxi arrivals. I’m unsuccessful in finding something small and portable except for fresh doughnuts fried from a food stand. It’s good. (Sorry, no time for photo. The dough was like pączki but no jelly.)

I meet my two companions, American and German, and then the taxi driver. The hostel employee tries to explain that he will take us to the Hanging Monastery and then to lunch. Okay. We take the shady elevator (its interior is covered in plywood) down and get in the taxi. The taxi hops on the sidewalk (this is common) and ignores the traffic light. We’re off through the city streets! 

Then things start to get dusty farther from Datong. Every once in awhile we pass a semi abandoned village. I say semi because I’m not sure if it is abandoned. I’m thinking Silent Hill. There’s a long line of trucks carrying coal (?) and the driver goes around them. A couple close calls and we arrive at our destination.  

 The Hanging Monastery (Xuankong Temple) is a small temple built onto a mountainside over a thousand years ago. You can see the support beams wedged into the mountain. It’s been periodically destroyed by flood and each time was rebuilt higher. There’s a dam now so the temple is safe. 

   
    
 Surprisingly it’s not too crowded but the narrow pathways are easy to fill. I can only imagine what a busy day looks like! 

    
    
    
  

this is not for tall people
  
  

i spot this guy posing for pictures

While you’re walking you come across tiny one room shrines. Some are pretty cool. 

    
    
    
 We all split up, much to the annoyance of the driver and have a hard time finding each other. No one mentioned a time to leave but it seems the driver was told a time. I did run into one person and we attempted to walk to another section of trails. We’re unsuccessful and return to the taxi.  

 Although annoyed, the driver shows us a brochure for another place he can take us. It’s unclear what or where the rock formations in the photos are. We decline. 

   

  

  

 He points to one or two restaurants and drops us off. There was no communication as to how to return to the hostel. Luckily one person recognized the area. We look around and a women motions for us to come inside. We do and order some random dishes. She leaves to get vegetables (outside market?) and returns while someone else is cooking the dishes. It worked out as the food was good and the company too. 

   
   There’s a ton of construction going on around Datong whether it is the rebuilding of the old city (after destroying the original of course) or building after building of high rise apartments.  

the new old city walls

new section next to the old (original?)
   
  It was a long day and I wanted something small for dinner. You know enough by now that it’s not going to happen. I went to a restaurant near the hostel. A waiter quickly calls over the one person who knows some English. I’m told to pick what I want from the translated menu and write the amount on the card. It’s going well but I can’t find the soda.  He doesn’t do much better but checks off a drink anyway. 

 The waiter is trying to explain something. Mound of rice. Yes. Meat on top. Yes.  

 He was trying to explain that it was a set meal so it includes soup and the cabbage. I ordered “crispy radish” as my vegetable thinking it will be either fresh or fried. It was neitherof those. It was pickled. Ugh. 

 

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