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Foreigners Must Pay at Xumi Shan Grottoes

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya Ok, let me begin this entry with a line that the Lonely Planet writer of the Ningxia Province finishes with; Guyuan is one of the last places in the country to try to charge foreigners double fare. In my last entry I wrote that I was hoping to meet someone that would not only change my mind but also Luo Wei's mind about some of the people of Ningxia Province. I was hoping that we would meet someone that would allow us to remember the good things about our visit here. What I mean by that is when someone mentions Ningxia the first thing that comes to mind won't be something about 'money'. Today we met that person and thankfully he was the taxi driver we hired for the day! When we arrived last night we grabbed a cab in hope that we wouldn't have to do the 'Cheap Enough Hotel Boogie' but of course we were told there were none in the town and for a fare the bugger took us on an adventure that ended at a crappy hotel near the train station. No air-conditioning and a noise level of a Chinese disco outside our window! We had to grab a cab back into the town for a walk and to find food and internet and then another cab back home again. While we were there we checked out some hotels and found plenty that were well under one hundred Yuan and that were clean and all had air-conditioning. This morning we packed and moved to one directly across from the hospital and a mound of dirt that used to be part of the city wall. After doing some washing we headed out to do some bargining for a cab for the day. It took Luo Wei only minutes to find one that was beneath what I was willing to pay. Today's destination was the little-visited Buddhist grottoes of Xumi Shan (Shumi Mountain). Xumi is the Chinese translation of the Sanskrit word Sumeru or a Buddhist paradise. There are five sandstone hills and cut into these hills are one hundred and thirty two caves that house around three hundred Buddhist statues that date back around one thousand four hundred years. They are from the Northern Wei to the Sui and Tang Dynasties. Sadly the gate people made a liar of both myself and the LP writer and after I paid the 60 Yuan entrance fee (each which has doubled in two years) they asked me to pay another two hundred Yuan to take photos. At first I asked Luo Wei to translate what I thought they were trying to tell me and when I found out I was right I simply told them to pretty much 'f*&%^ off!' and that in both the Luoyang (Longmen Caves) and Datong (Yungang Caves) no such thing was asked and that they were disgusting people for even asking. I then found out that I had to pay this because I was a foreigner and that any Chinese person could take pictures for free. Needless to say I geared up by Nokia N95 (8gb) for many hours of FREE picture taking! Within seconds several young 'You Buy You Buy' children surrounded us but instead of bothering us we found them very friendly and soon they become our guides. Funnily it took them some time before they believed that Luo Wei was actually Chinese. They took us from cave to cave and freely took photos of us and the taxi driver whenever we wanted and they even showed us better positions to take the photos from. Sadly though several parts of the grottoes were closed for renovation due to damage suffered by the Sichuan earthquake but what we got to see had survived not only that earthquake but many previous quakes. The grottoes are no where near as big as the Datong or Luoyang Grottoes but in comparrission they are much more beautiful. They actually reminded me a lot of being in South Korea at such places as Sarakson National Park. Surrounding you are huge mountains of rock upon which greenery does its best to survive. The difference is that in the distance (here in Guyuan) there are desert sand hills as far as the eye can see. A rather impressive sight! Thankfully when we left there were no further requests for the two hundred Yuan foreigner photo taking monies. The journey too and from the grottoes was very much as impressive as any of the journey's I have taken in Ningxia Province. As usual on one side of the road there were huge desert hills in the distance and in between there were huge plains filled with either extreme 'nothingness' for green fields filled with corn and other plants doing their best to survive. On the way our happy taxi driver stopped at a very impressive Mosque where we were allowed to freely roam around and take pictures. When we arrived back into the city our driver took us in an unexpected tour of both the new and the old towns and when we when to pay him he tried to give back some of the monies and made us promise to call him tomorrow if we wanted to visit anywhere else and that the journey would be for free. All through the journey he happily chatted away to Luo Wei and asked many questions about life in Australia and where I had taught. He was simply a 'nice guy'. He was happy with much less than the cab driver we negotiated with last night and like I said was unwilling to take any more. He also gave us much more of his time to give us his own private tour of his town, a town he is obviously proud of. This my friends is what I have found to be normal Chinese behaviour! Thankfully we found it during out last adventure here in Ningxia Province! Tomorrow night (actually 3am the next morning) we board a train to Kaifeng City where, as promised I will see Luo Wei safely home but sadly we will part. The journey will be seventeen hours in hard seat and we will arrive around eight in the evening. Can't say it is a journey I am looking forward to but hey, it is Luo Wei! Tomorrow we will spend the day climbing the mountain behind the train station. It should take a few hours up and down and there is a temple at the top and a nice walk along the mountain top to a nice pagoda that will offer an awesome view of both the town and what ever lays on the other side. Ningxia Province! Why not pack your bags and come and visit some awesome stuff! Beers N Noodles toya.....shane _________________________________________________________ The soundtrack to this entry was by gods own song write, FISH! The album was 'Vigil In A Wilderness Of Mirrors' __________________________________________________________ <u>Guyuan</u><u> City</u> Population: 1,868,500 Area: 16,783 square kilometers (6,480square miles) Nationalities: Hui, Han Location: Guyuan lies in the south of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, on the west bank of the upper reaches of Qingshui River and northeast of the Liupan Mountain. It is bordered by Zhongwei and Wuzhong in the north and by Gansu Province in the other three sides. History: Old Guyuan is a vital pass in the east section of the ancient Silk Road. From long ago, it was a town of military importance communicating the Central Shaanxi to the western land outside the Great Wall. In 114, the Han (206BC-220AD) Court established Gaoping Town, which is said to be the historical Guanyuan firmly recorded in history. By the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Guyuan had reached its zenith. Physical Features: Guyuan lies in the northwest edge of the Loess Plateau. Within the city, the Liupan Mountain zigzags south-north separating Guyuan into western and eastern parts. Most of the region is situated 1500-2000 meters (4921-6562 feet) above the sea level featuring undulant hill and gullies. Climatic Features: Enjoying a temperate continental monsoon climate, the city has lower temperature that varied greatly during a year. The weather features cold spring, dry summer. Northern area is dry and abundant in heat and sunshine, while the south is relatively wetter but heat and sunshine are inadequate. Annual average temperature ranges between 5 and 7 degree centigrade (41-45 degree Fahrenheit). When to Go: Summer is much favorable to visit for the moderate temperature. Special Local Products: buckwheat, oat wine, pea, medlar.

Xumi Shan Grottoes

Xumi Shan Grottoes


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1-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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2-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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3-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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4-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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5-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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6-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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7-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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8-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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9-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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10-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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11-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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12-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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13-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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14-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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17-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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20-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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21-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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26-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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27-Xumi Shan Grottoes


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31-Xumi Shan Grottoes


32-Xumi Shan Grottoes

32-Xumi Shan Grottoes

Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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