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vbx000 Lanzhou - A travel report by Veronica
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Lanzhou,  China - flag China -  Gansu
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vbx000's travel reports

A Quick Day in Lanzhou- Silk Road Tour

  11 votes
Page: 1 2
After visiting Jiayuguan we spent a day in Lanzhou before depating to Xiahe. The highlight, and only point of interest to Lanzhou was the Bing Ling Si Caves. This is also called the Thousand Buddha Caves- thats a popular name for Buddhist relics in China.


Maitreya- The Future Buddha.
Maitreya- The Future Buddha.
Cave temple sites are scattered all over the Gansu province, and since my class was focusing on the archeology of the Silk Road we stopped at as many of them that we could. We went to Lanzhou specifically to visit the Binglingsi Caves. Binglingsi means Luminous Spirits Temple. These are soe of the oldest grottoes in China, and the best preserved to boot. The oldest cave dates back from AD420.

Favourite spots:
Cruisin the Yellow River
Cruisin the Yellow River
The main attraction of the cave is the 27 meter high Maitreya, the Future Buddha. Maitreya is massive and regardless of what you are looking for as you walk to Binglingsi this buddha captures your attention and refuses to let go. The size and beauty of this Buddha is remarkable, especially considering its age. I can't even imagine how much work went into building him, and the painting of the 183 caves.

What's really great:
More Scupltures
More Scupltures
We took speedboats to Binglingsi. It was really fun to watch the scenary fly by as we sped along the Yellow River. The boat ride alone would have been worth the trip to see the mountains, green grass and herds grazing near the river. Something about the rivers of China are really amazing, in many ways China is heading towards the larget tourist market in the world but scenes like the one along the Yellow River remind of all the natural beauty China holds within her. Even I, with all my tourist nay-saying, can appreciate that.

Sights:
Look at the green! Thats green!
Look at the green! Thats green!
I'm telling you, the short stop in Lanzhou was worth the Binglinsi Caves and speed boat ride along the yellow river.

This mountainside is littered with little caves that have small, medium and large sculptures of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and fescoes. It is here that art people have been able to see the Greek influence on Buddhist art. But, I wouldn't really know if I saw that or not.

Accommodations:
Buddha, his Bodhisattvas, and attendents.
Buddha, his Bodhisattvas, and attendents.
We actually didn't stay in Lanzhou, after we visited the caves that morning we did the 7 hour bus ride to Xiahe. Which was one of the most uncomfortable bus rides of my life. I never want to do that ride again, ever. Even though I adored Xiahe.

Nightlife:
Mountains- they were beautiful here.
Mountains- they were beautiful here.
No clubs, just pictures.

Hangouts:
Another view: Natural Beauty and Man-Made Art- Good Combo
Another view: Natural Beauty and Man-Made Art- Good Combo
I need more pictures! It's a dirty trick, but it works every time. ;-)

Restaurants:
The head was destroyed, but look at that vivid color!
The head was destroyed, but look at that vivid color!
They packed a lunch for us, the restaurant before we boarded the boats. but, it was a small salted fish on top of bread with a pickle, a hard boiled egg and like a coke. it was really dissapointing. I couldn't touch anything inside the plastic box becaus the dead beady fish eyes contaminated it. The coke wasn't bad.

Luckily I pack snickers bars on these two week long trips for emergencies like that.

Other recommendations:
See the dark figure in the L corner-he is black b/c of using copper in paint
See the dark figure in the L corner-he is black b/c of using copper in paint
The other interesting part about these caves is that despite the thousands of years they are still vividly colored and preserved. Apparently this is because the paint is made by crushing up rocks and metals from the river and mixing it with animal blood. Pretty smart way to make paint I think.

Sorry this is short but it was a short stop, but worth sharing. I promise. If you go on the Silk Road, stop here... please.

Published on Thursday November 10th, 2005


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Thu, Nov 10 2005 - 02:44 PM rating by davidx

Nothing new to say. How long can you keep it up - it's great.

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