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The Hanging Monastery in Datong

Right after spending two hours at Yunggang Cave, our group headed off to the next destination: The Hanging Monastery which is about two hours travel by the CITS mini-bus. We left at 11:30 a.m. with our stomach asking, “When and where are we gonna eat?” But before the question was answered, the tour guide said that lunch will be at the restaurant in Hanging Monastery area — which means that we’ll have lunch at 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. (just in case for delays).

Two hours on a bus on Datong countryside is not really impressive. I got this problem of being awake in day travel. I just can’t go to sleep no matter how physically battered and tired I am. The countryside was coal-covered, dry, bare and ugly. There were some areas with nice landscapes but nothing impressive.

While the rest were sleeping on their seats, the French guy (beside me) and I were the ones wide awake. I read my Lonely Planet Guide Book while he read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’, “One Hundred Years of Solitude.” When he paused reading, I tried to engage him in a conversation about the book which he was kind of surprised that I read it long time ago. It was one of the books required by our literature professor to read. And to test my knowledge of the book, he quizzed me.

THE LUNCH

We were served with food that’s not even delicious to eat but enough for us to fill our grumbling stomach. We had no choice. The overrated tomato and eggs dish is expected in all travel service-designed meals.

Once up there, you are not allowed to scrutinize stuff or stay longer since to let the line flow smoothly as possible.

Once up there, you are not allowed to scrutinize stuff or stay longer to let the line flow smoothly as possible.

THE HANGING MONASTERY

I must say that this scenic spot is unbelievably incredible. It is an architectural wonder. It has survived for more than 1400 years. Isn’t that amazing?

See those crowd? Good thing, the monastery is strong enough to hold hundreds of them at a time.

See those crowd? Good thing, the monastery is strong enough to hold hundreds of them at a time.

Those tuberculosis-thin-like poles are not there to support but they’re for decoration purposes only. And they’ve never changed that for 1400 years! (That is, if the tour guide was not exaggerating.)

The Hanging Monastery includes the icons of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

The Hanging Monastery

The Hanging Monastery in Datong, Shanxi Province

Why build a monastery like this? Location is the first reason; building a monastery on the cliff could shield it from floods. In addition, the mountain peak protects it from rain and snow; and the mountain around it also diminishes damage from long-time sunshine. The second reason is that the builders followed a principle in Taoism: no noises, including those from rooster crowing and dog baying; so from the upper ground, all noises drop away.

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