TRIP TO LUOYANG 洛阳
Let me start by saying that Luoyang is a wonderful place to visit and I hope to go back and visit. However, it is really obvious that the original thought I had to not travel during a festival was correct. Murphy’s Law happened!
Saturday morning we met Curtis, Liu Yike 刘义可, and rode to the train station together. There we met Cindy, Zhang Jing Ya 张静雅, his cousin (he calls her sister). We went to find the line for foreigners to get train tickets and thought all was well. I met and made some new friends in line, but things were destined to go wrong. Seems that our tickets didn’t have the names on our passports and because of that the person handing out tickets refused to give us our tickets. Even though the numbers on our passports were the same, if the name isn’t the same that is a problem. After standing in line for 30 minutes she is relented and gave us our tickets to Luoyang. We needed her to give us our tickets there and back but that is a story for later in this blog. After we finally got our tickets and I said goodbye to my new Chinese friends we headed for Burger King for lunch.
That was amazing and very much like America as the burgers had the same taste. Unfortunately because I am eating less meat these days the meat overload would soon catch up to me, but not on the trip. McDonalds and KFC have more of a more Chinese flavor but BK is very American and yummy.
Because everyone in Zhengzhou seemed to be at the train station we waited in waiting room 6 instead of 3 where our train left from. This because in 6 we found seats and there were none to be had in 3. I went to the bathroom while everyone moved to room 6. Chuck (yes we traveled together) messaged me to meet up with everyone in 6 so off I went. I get there and Chuck and Curtis are sitting together and our 13 year old child is alone. They saved me a seat with them and then I noticed that Curtis had saved a seat next to him to sit with his sister’s friend who was also coming on the trip. I didn’t even ask him if Nate could sit with his parents. I called Nate and had him sit down in the fourth chair and told Curtis that my 13 year old wasn’t sitting alone when his sister and her friend had found seats together. He was less than happy with me but that is alright. Some Chinese men seem to think that they need to take charge and even if there are people older than them if they are foreigners they do as they please. Well not today or this weekend Mr. Curtis. There is a new sheriff in town and her name is Toni. I’m not afraid to let you know when I’m happy and when I’m not. For the life of me I will NEVER understand why Chuck was okay with our son not sitting with him or someone from our group while Curtis a 20 year old college student had to sit under him. There is not enough time in the world for me to understand that one.
On the train now and in our seats, Chinese people will sit in a seat even if it isn’t there’s until someone comes up and tells them to move. Even more difficult when it comes to English speakers, how do you tell someone speaking English to move when they speak only Chinese? Fortunately Cindy’s friend, Melandra, was able to help with the seats. There was a bump like the engine uncoupling or perhaps cars being added. We waited as we got underway and I thought about the Simon and Garfunkel song.
Our first train stop was Gongyi 巩义, a county level city in Zhengzhou and the city where Chuck went last year to visit a high school. Our second stop was Shangquan 商圈, also in Zhengzhou. Our next stop was Luoyang 洛阳. Our trip took two hours and since we didn’t sit together we each had our electronic devices to entertain us.
Once we got in and took a taxi to our hotel we waited in line for 30 minutes as we checked in. There was a problem with one of our passports being accepted. I prayed the serenity prayer all day and all weekend just so I would not put my hands around the neck of someone. After getting in our rooms we caught the K9 (any Dr. Who fans out there?) bus and went to the old part of town for some delicious special foods of the city for dinner.
Our only full day in Luoyang and we got up at 6 with breakfast being around 7:30ish. Breakfast in China is not usually the most satisfying of meals. Because of this we were all hungry before lunch time.
After breakfast we headed out to Longmen Grottoes or longmen shiku 龙门石窟. After spending the morning with members of our group all over the place Chuck got our tickets. He stood in line and when he got close to the front he messaged asking for our passports so he could get the tickets. Nate and I left the visitor center we were in to give him our passports. All hell broke lose as security thought we were trying to break into the line. I had to yell in English while waiving my passport around that in order to get our tickets the person in line needed our passports. Chuck quickly said that I was giving him our passports and I was allowed to do so. Just and FYI if you want a noisy crowd of Chinese people to get quiet start yelling in English. Silence, I could have heard crickets chirp the silence was so deafening. After waiting for the girls to get tickets with their student discount we got lunch at a street vendor.
The grottoes were amazing each one a work of art carved from the side of the mountain. One even took 24 years as the niche was dug out by hand and then the statute was carved from the existing rock. I got pictures of the most impressive ones at the grottoes. Huge statues that could be seen on the east side of the park across the Yi river. Surprisingly we saw a few students from the university there and it seemed like all of China was at the grottoes. Some Chinese friends were telling me that Qingming Jie or Tomb sweeping day is not a festival to go have fun, but a time for remembering and honoring your ancestors. I guess that some Chinese feel they can best honor their ancestors with hundreds of other people around them.
Back at the front gate our Chinese helpers couldn’t get us a ride on the tram back to the front so we walked which aggravated my back and Chuck’s hip. Then they couldn’t get a taxi to the hotel and said we would have to take the busses we rode in on. However, the line to get on the bus was huge and people here tend to push getting on busses so we were not happy with that or the thought of standing because there were so many people. We told our Chinese friends (who we were unpleased with at that moment) that we were taking a taxi to the hotel and would see them later. We got a taxi with little effort and made it back to the hotel. We then at McDonalds down the street from our hotel.
Day 3 of our trip has us waiting to get back to Zhengzhou. We were supposed to see the White Horse Temple or Baima si 白马寺, but because of a bad hip, sore back, and a feeling that we were not being heard, we opted to stay in the hotel for the morning. We skipped breakfast and slept in. At lunch Curtis stopped by the room and told us we could go to have lunch at the hotel buffet. We did but when we got back the room key wouldn’t work. Because it was after check out time the room lock didn’t open. We had to have the front desk open the door lock for us.
Because of the whole train ticket snafu we rode a car back to Zhengzhou. The ride was nice in the BMW. And hey, the trip home didn’t cost us anything because the students felt bad.