From the Arch to the Great Wall

10. Longmen Grottoes

Giant Buddha

On the itinerary my mom wrote that I could do laundry here but in the morning I couldn't find the laundry bag. Dr. Tai let me and Jason go look for it and she didn't mind when we arrived at the bus a few minutes late. I sent out a pair of pants for 15 yuan, not including a service charge. That's really all I had to wash because it had some mud stains from walking; everything else was still clean.

The first attraction in Luoyang was the Longmen Grottoes. It was probably the best stop since the Great Wall. Our new guide Haibo is really cool; he talks a lot and isn't as shy and quiet as Lisa. The grottoes are many different kinds of Buddhas carved into the cliffs. I saw a room of 10,000 Buddhas and a really large Buddha that looked like my friend Mike.

The world-famous Longmen Grottoes are located 12km south of Luoyang. Here two mountains, namely, East Hill (Mt. Xiangshan) and West Hill (Mt. Longmen), confront each other with the Yi River traversing northward between them, just like a pair of Chinese gate towers. So during the Zhou and Qin dynasties, it was called "Yi Que" (Gate of Yi River). Later, when the Sui established its capital city in Luoyang, the palace gate was just facing Yi Que, hence the name "Longmen" which means "Dragon Gate".

Spanning a length of over 1,000 meters on the hillsides along the Yi River, the Longmen Grottoes, together with the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang (Gansu Province) and the Yungang Grottoes (Shanxi Province), are reputed as the three greatest stone sculpture treasure houses in China. In the year 2000, Longmen Grottoes was listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

The Longmen Grottoes were first sculptured and chiseled around 493AD when the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) was moved from Datong to Luoyang. The entire construction of Longmen Grottoes lasted more than four hundred years through the Northern Dynasties, Sui Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and up to Song Dynasty. Today, there are still 2345 caves and niches, 100,000 Buddhist images ranging in size from 2 cm to 17.14 meters, more than 2800 inscribed tablets, and 43 Buddhist pagodas remaining in both East Hill and West Hill. Altogether 30 % date from Northern Wei Dynasty, 60 % from Tang Dynasty and the rest 10 % from other periods.

Lunch was at a combination shop and restaurant. The shop was boring but lunch was great. Highlights included spicy beef, good non-tangy orange chicken, soy sauce chicken, and watermelon. After lunch we went to the Guan Ti Temple. All these temples and mausoleums were getting a little repetitive but nevertheless I enjoyed it and learned again that you shouldn't step on the thresholds when entering a sacred place.

Next we had a break back at the hotel. First, I went back to the internet bar to send emails and play computer games. After coming back I took a short nap and then got up to look around an electronics store. Dinner was a special culinary highlight tonight. It was a soup banquet "Sui shee" consisting of 8 cold dishes and 16 soup dishes. The waitress at our table was really nice and pretty; she would explain the ingredients of each soup and then serve us. I say "our table" because there were 27 persons total and each table usually held 9 persons so we always had 3 tables in each restaurant we went to. By the end of the second day everyone kind of knew who they wanted to sit with and that arrangement was maintained throughout the trip. Anyway, I tried my best to finish every bowl of soup but some of them close to the end were sweet dessert-like soups and I couldn't stand them.

As I closed the first day in Luoyang I realized two things: first, China can be really bad and really good, meaning there are nice things and horrible things about it, and second, I'm seriously addicted to internet bars. On some streets in China, you feel as if you're in the best part of town, comparable to a Ladue or Clayton here in St. Louis. The shops are nice, the food is great, and everything seems clean and somewhat fresh. On the next street over, or maybe even on that same street, you see beggars, poor people, rundown shacks, and other things that you wouldn't expect to see on a typical nice street. It was very shocking to be in a place with no dividing line between wealthy and poor or upper and lower class; many times contrasting elements were intermingled to the point where the line is blurred. As for the internet bars, I was surprised to see that even in a bad part of town, there would be a room full of nice Pentium-grade computers with fast internet access and up-to-date games, all for the low price of around 1 or 2 US dollars per hour. Since I am not a big shopping person, I spent most of my time (and saved most of my money) at the internet bars.

第十章 龍門石窟


在旅遊行程表上,媽媽幫我寫著今天是洗衣服的日子,早上戴老師特別准我和奕傑 去找洗衣袋送洗衣服,我祇送洗一條褲子,費用15元(不含服務費)。

今天參訪的第一站是洛陽的龍門石窟,這可是繼長城之後最好看的景點。導遊海寶 (Haibo)很風趣,愛講話,不像先前害羞的導遊麗莎(Lisa),這個石窟裡有各種不同 的雕在石壁上的佛像,有一個洞窟裡竟然有著一萬尊佛像。此外還有一個很大的佛像,看起來 就像我的一位朋友麥克(Mike)。

經世界遺產委員會評價:龍門地區的石窟和佛像展現了中國北魏晚期至唐代(公元493∼907年)期間, 最具規模和最為優秀的造型藝術。這些詳細描述佛教中宗教題材的藝術作品,代表了中國石刻藝術的最高峰。

龍門石窟位於中國中部河南省洛陽市南郊12.5公里處,龍門峽谷東西兩崖的峭壁間。因為這裡東、西兩山 對峙,伊水從中流過,看上去宛若門厥,所以又被稱為“伊厥”,唐代以後,多稱其為“龍門”。 這裡里地處交通要塞,山清水秀,氣候宜人,是文人墨客的觀遊勝地。又因為龍門石窟所在的岩体石質優良, 宜于雕刻,所以古人選擇此處開鑿石窟。

龍門石窟與甘肅敦煌莫高窟、山西大同云崗石窟并稱為`“中國三大石刻藝術寶庫”。石窟始鑿於北魏 孝文帝時(公元471∼477年),大規模營建於北魏、唐代,後經歷代修建而成,迄今已有1500年的歷史。 龍門石窟南北長約1公里,現存石窟1300多個,窟龕2345個,題記和碑刻3600余品,佛塔50餘座, 佛像97000餘尊。沿西山石棧道緩緩而行,古陽洞、賓陽洞、万佛洞,洞洞有典;魏晉南北朝、唐代造像, 代代不同。最顯赫最精美的是奉先寺群像和盧舍那石佛,充分顯示了唐代工匠巧奪天工的技藝, 為後人留下了豐富的文化遺產。

午餐是在一個附設餐廳的購物店裡,店看起來不怎麼樣,但是午餐很不錯,包括辣牛肉, 桔子雞,醬油雞和西瓜,餐後,我們參觀關帝廟(Guan Ti Temple)。所有的這些廟和 陵墓看起來大同小異,有些重複,然而我還是再次學到進廟前不可以踏上入門檻的規 矩。

下午我們回旅館後,有一段休息時間,我得空又跑到「網吧」去,發了幾個電子郵件和玩電腦遊戲, 小憩片刻後,又到附近電子商城逛了一下,晚餐可是今天的特別饗宴,那就是「水席」,包括八道涼拌菜和 16道湯。我們這桌的美麗女服務生很耐心地解釋 每一道湯裡的菜色材料,因為我們全團有27人,一般來說,我們會自然地分成三桌, 每桌9人,大概從到中國第二天開始,每個人都很自然地坐到固定的桌次座位上,這 頓水席下來,我幾乎嚐遍每道湯,除了最後幾道像甜點的甜湯。


在洛陽的晚上,我領悟到兩件事,第一,中國將來可能會很棒,同時有可能很糟糕, 因為由這裡的情形看來,很好和很差的事同時都有。第二是,我發現我對網吧的熱愛嚴重上 癮。仔細來說,在中國走在某些街道上,可以感覺到那是城裡的高級區,如同聖路易的 Ladue或Clayton區一樣,乾淨的街道,亮麗的商店,精美的餐飲,一切看起來是那麼的乾 淨清爽,但是祇要過一條街,或是甚至同一條街的另一邊,你卻會看到乞丐、窮人, 破舊的房子和一些不應在街上出現的事物。驚訝的是三教九流之間沒有一個界限來區別, 可謂龍蛇雜處。

至於「網吧」上癮,在中國就算在城裡最壞的地區,你也可以找到一家滿都是Pentium級別的好電腦, 架有高速網路連線,和配備各式最新版本電腦遊戲的網吧,每小時祇收美金一或二元。 我不是很喜歡逛街購物,所以大部份的時間,我都待在網吧裡(這也省了我不少錢呦)。

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