Thursday, July 17, 2008

9th wonder of the world?

Yesterday, we didn't really know what kind of tickets we had and when we were going exactly (besides the direction), but we managed to upgrade our seat tickets to beds aboard the train.

more to come on the 9th wonder: Longmen caves.

We got up early, skipped breakfast and took a taxi from the hostel in Xian centre to the train station right outside the city wall. We had no problems boarding, and met a nice, English speaking chef onboard. He was going to some nearby mountains to hike. He asked some other travel companions to tell us when to get off, which they did about 5 hours later. Luongyang did not seem like a small city at all to us. Many tall buildings were spread out across a vast area, with lots of wide, long roads. We had to bargain for a cab - with a middleman - who kind of lost. The fare to the caves was just 4 yuan more than the meter said. Total 35! We walked to the grottoes, a myriad of Buddha statues in sizes ranging from dwarf to giant carved into the side of the mountain. We also visited a temple on the other side of the river. Returning to the station were we bought new train tickets, Astrid encountered a real public toilet - meaning a hole in the floor, no door, and the next needy within the same three walls before the pants were back on! Our train ticket would take us somewhere, hopefully in the right direction, seating standard unknown for 150 yuan. We later found out that the city was Wuchang, about 10 hours away, and we could upgrade our tickets onboard to beds for only 150 yuan. What a stroke of luck!

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