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31
May
2010
One Day Trip to LuoYang E-mail
Reviews - Travel
Written by Noruma Mueller
My colleagues corrected me. It is not a 火车 Huo Che, a normal train, it is a 高铁 Gao Tie, which means high speed train. With the new GaoTie connecting Xi'an to Henan province, some attractive locations became „closer“, meaning faster and easier to reach. LuoYang, located 375 km to the east of Xi'an, is one of those locations.

I had not heard about this city before, but it had been China's capital at various times in history. It is said, that LuoYang was one of the first places where buddism set a foot in China. The three main attractions of LuoYang are: 1. The LongMen caves, a UNESCO world heritage site with thousands of stone buddas carved out of the limestone cliffs bordering the Yi River.2. The BaimaSi, which is said to be the first buddhist temple in China. 3. The Shaolin Temple, which is worldwide known for the martial arts. This spot is not directly in LuoYang but 60 km to the east.

Having read that, we were determined to make a trip (or maybe two) to LuoYang during this summer. The „plan“ was to travel friday afternoon, so that we could have a whole day for the visit to the shaolin temple and to the Baima temple. Relaxed, no need to wake up very early... but, well, it's China, so why do I keep planing? Just the old habit I guess...

We went to the new railway ticket office in Gaoxin. The woman selling the tickets understood what we wanted and gave us two tickets from Xi'an to LuoYang.

„Yes, but we also want the return tickets from LuoYang to Xi'an!“ we told her.

„Then you must go to the train station. Here, you can only buy tickets from Xi'an to another city.“

Hm... so... the super modern, high speed train and the old fashioned system to sell tickets. I don't know why I had expected/hoped this to be different...?! So... let us buy the return tickets at the railway station, just before we depart...

Xi'an - The Starting Point

The Xi'an train station is huge. I do not know where to go. Where can I buy tickets? And where is the entrance? We find the place to buy the tickets and queue. After a while we get the tickets and we run to the entrance because there is not much time left. You must show your ticket in order to be allowed to enter the station. And all the luggage and bags must be X-rayed, just like in an airport. I show my ticket and want to pass but the employee shouts at me. He points at the little bag I wear around my belly. I put it on the conveyor, together with boxes and bags of all sizes which people around me have just put on the there. Everyone seems to be in a hurry, pushing and running. So I want to pick up my bag after they confirmed there is no bomb in it, but there is no space between so many people picking up their belongings. After they removed their things, I see only a black rucksack and a bag... in panic I start to yell:

My bag is gone! I try to see if someone took it but all the people who were there two seconds before had disapeared. I have it! My husband said... Uff!! If I had my iPod inside, i guess i would have had a heart attack.

The train arrives on time, so we arrive in time in LuoYang after only one and a half hours. The train is nice, nothing to complain. Well maybe one thing, the videos on the Expo2010 which are shown non stop and which I really can not see any more (at least they stopped showing videos from the 2008 olympics now).

In LuoYang, the taxi driver picks us up at 9:30 the next day. We go to Baima temple, but when we arrive we are told that we can not go in. Why not? Because of some VIP's which are visiting right now. Hm... great! But you can come back this afternoon!


So we left for the shaolin temple. Not only the Baima temple had been closed for public, but the whole street was full of policemen, and some kilometers ahead there was a barrier. The traffic was being redirected. Lots of trucks were turning to take the same road as we.

Traffic Jam

Three dangerous ingredients mixed together: a lot of trucks, construction works in some parts of the road and … chinese driving style! We had the most impressive traffic jam ever. It was not our first one. Also not our second... but by far the worst traffic jam I can remember.

Just see the pictures! I do not know how to explain such an interesting constellation, everybody just wanted to be the first leaving all others behind and passing on whichever side of the road there was some space not yet occupied by other cars.

After two and a half hours we arrived at shaolin temple. The driver tells us to better not spend so much time inside because there might be another traffic jam on the way back!

So we have only three hours for the huge temple. We hurry to the pagoda forest, then to the temple and then to the Kungfu show.

Great Performances

The young martial arts students were impressive! But you should be prepared to see a completly commercialized show. Before the show, people are asked to go to the stage to have their picture taken together with the monks. The show starts late, and in the middle of the show a beautiful girl in a short black dress offers a DVD. During the show sellers pass by again and again, offering either the pictures or the DVD. I found all this very disturbing because I wanted to see martial arts, I was not there for shopping.

Back in the car, the taxi driver does not turn to take the same way we came from. He continues and enter a high way. He must pay a little toll-fee, but within one hour we are back in LuoYang.

So there is a high way to Shaolin temple!!! And why the hell did we not take it before???

Well, because we wanted to go to Baima temple first....

Anyway I can recommend a trip there, and if you are a bit luckier than us, you should be able to see what you want to see. For more info check out LuoYang on Wikipedia. Click here.

Tips

For buying tickets for the high-speed train, there are two dedicated windows on the right side of the train selling area at the Xi'an railway station; the queues here are ususally much shorter than for the other counters. The train from Xi'an leaves every ~2 hours, and it arrives in Luoyang after 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the number of stops in between. The train doesn't stop in Luoyang itself, but at Luoyang Longmen Station (and don't ask for a Huochezhan, this is a Gaotiezhan...).

From here it is only 10 minutes by bus to the famous Longmen Grottos (number 67, unfortunately this bus only leaves every hour or so, if you just missed it you may consider spending the additional few kuay for a 5-minute-taxi-ride instead), This is really an easy day trip, and if you take the train leaving Xi'an at 10:50 and return from Luoyang with the train at 17:45, you can even get enough sleep the night before and still spend 3-4 hours to see the grottos. I'd recommend to buy the ticket from Xi'an the day before and the return ticket just before you leave (unless you live close to the railway station).

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Our valuable Editor Noruma Mueller has been with us since Sunday, 02 August 2009.

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