I woke up at 6 in the morning and took a shower in an undescribable bathroom of our shabby hotel in Datong. Then, I woke up everybody by knocking their doors loud. Yeah, someone guessed that I would wake them up so there’s no need for them to set the alarm clock.
We took a cab back to the train station where the CITS tour bus was waiting at 7:30, as it was agreed. Crap of all craps, the bus arrived at 8:05 a.m. Everybody was already complaining, especially me. I hate it when things don’t go according to the plan. We really need to go to Yungang Caves early because we have a train to catch back to Beijing at 12:22 P.M. Considering the busy, slow traffic, we need a miracle to stop the time for some minutes.
The CITS manager was about to refund our transport fare when the bus showed up out of nowhere. Then, the rest is history.
On normal days, the trip should only be 30 minutes—and we got it for an hour and 13 minutes.
This scenic spot is a UNESCO Cultural Heritage site which they labelled as the “masterpiece of early Chinese Buddhist cave art. There are 21 caves here and more than 51,000 carved figures and statues. The biggest is 17 meter high Buddha and the smallest one is about 7 cm.
Above is the 17m colossal seated Buddha in Cave 5. It’s the tallest of all the carvings. Notice the other intricate carvings on the side and around the whole cave. Here, you can’t take photos. Guards were strict following the orders. But, you know me, there’s fun in breaking the rules.
Every cave has it’s own theme or characteristics. From wall to roof, the caves are like works of a genius who must have spent and devoted all his life to his art. The carvings are so awesome and I can’t even blink an eye to marvel the beauty in front of me. Thought it was just like one of the special effects in the movie where minitiature statues were made into colossal, unbelievable sizes.
In Caves 5-13, the walls are fabulously carved with tales and stories of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha. Every statute depicts the life of Siddharta from birth to his attainment of Nirvana.
Some carvings show Hindu influences. Historical records say that the the statues were carved during AD 460 and 494.
Despite of its ancientness, the beauty still remains. Though the grandeur of perfection is not anymore there, the caves stood the test of time. However, some outside carvings have surrendered to Timelittle by little losing its heads, arms, legs, body and eyes. Some caves are even empty now where tourists like us would go inside it and pretend to pose like Buddha attaining Nirvana.