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Photo album by krisek: Datong (Shanxi, CN) - the city and its fascinating neighbourhood

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Datong (Shanxi, CN) - the city and its fascinating neighbourhood

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Datong in the Shanxi province, has over 2,300 years of great history. It had been the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty, secondary capital of the Liao & Jin dynasties, and an important military centre of Qing & Ming dynasties. Yet, it does not sit very firmly among China's prime tourist destinations. There are over 300 historical remains and sites of ancient relics, among which one has been listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site. They are the Yungang Grottoes, carved meticulously with Buddha images, dating back to 400s AD. The street running south of the old Drum Tower was full of cafes that were humming with locals having their drinks, usually tea. Some of them looked triendier than others, some a little run down, I guess. But one could find Datongers in all sorts of them. I had a peek in a couple of them in the evening, and was under the impression that they really took their time, chatting rather loudly about... actually, I had no idea what about. I also liked an impromptu street night market, which developed right in front of my hotel. It did spawn a quick crowd, who came to check what was new and fashionable in the kitch and cheap (and completely silly and useless) toy department. I saw no-one actually buying anything. Datong was called the city of dragon walls, not just because of the unique Nine Dragon Wall. There were 4 One Dragon Walls; 1 Three Dragon Wall; 3 Five Dragon Walls; and one wall with circular 'dragon seals'.

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