Saturday, September 10, 2005


We arrived in Louyang after a six hour train ride yesterday.  The heat and pollution were stifling but I am enjoying this place so much.  There is almost no tourism here except for other Chinese.  We are seriously the only whiteys as far as the eye can see, which makes us quite interesting to the locals.  Some just stare, some venture a "Helloooo" as they walk past.  A few will strike up a conversation if they know English - and sometimes even if they don't!  The big draw of this town was for us to see how the real people live.  Our hotel is right across from the town square where seemingly the entire city comes in the morning between 6 and 8am to practice any number of different kind of excercises from Tai Chi to ballroom dancing and all things in between.  Dag was brave enough to join in and I shyly did the same.Tai Chi
  No one looks at you funny (if at all)...they are absorbed in their own experience and it doesn't seem to matter if you don't do the moves right.  All over the park there are groups of 30 or so people all in rows with one or two experts leading the exercises.  Some have little tape players for any necessary accompanying music.  Afterwards we ate a buffet breakfast feast in the hotel for 15RMB and set off in a tour bus to the Longmen Grottoes, which was spectacular but sooooo indescribably hot.  I have had like four servings of ice cream today - it's almost as important as water around here and as easy to come across on the street as a latte in Portland.  After the grottoes we went to the White Horse Temple - the first Buddhist temple in China.Luoyang22

We had dinner in a rotating restaurant overlooking the city on the 25th floor of...well...some building.  It was fantastic.  They had ice cream.
Then back to the square, which is just as full of people after dark but the activities consist of old men playing instruments I am not at this time able to identify.  Like a long stick with a square box at the bottom and it's played with a bow and appears to only have one string.  Also a variety of horns and drums and one guy standing there singing.  Large crowds gather around and listen.  At one point I bumped up the exposure on my camera and snapped a photo.  One or two guys standing around became fascinated by the image that showed up on the LCD screen so I was showing the image around and they were looking back and forth to verify that the image was the same as the scene in front of us.
To demonstrate, I snapped a photo of myself and the guy standing behind me which was a HUGE hit and suddenly I was completely surrounded by probably 25 people, all wanting to get a look at the screen and I scrolled through the other photos I'd taken in the park in the past half hour.  It was an overwhelmingly cool moment.  There were a few older men there practicing their calligraphy with huge brushes and water on the stone floor.  Three others were cracking whips in another area, one of them keeping two tops spinning at the same time with the whips.  In the center was a "disco" sort of poppy Chinese music that everyone ballroom danced to.  Men have to pay to get into the ring but ladies get in free!
In about 45 minutes, we get into taxis to the train station for an overnighter to Yichang and we'll cruising the Yangtzee until Wednesday.  I am definitely ready for some calm...and that bunk that's waiting for us on the train.
And never mind what I said before about not being able to read comments.  Jen reminded me I am receiving emails for each comment, but I was not checking Yahoo.
Over and out!


Anonymous said...

Your Grandmother and I have been enjoying your blogs. Facinating. Just wanted you to know that we are here and listening. Love Paul

xanadu8571 said...

you are the coolest. can't wait to see the "slides".

Anonymous said...

Leslie - it's great hearing about your adventures as you have them. Your eagerness to experience China comes through just as I'm sure it does for the locals.

I'm looking forward to seeing all your photos and the narration that goes with it.