Wandering in Wutai Shan

DSC_0265eWutai Shan is a destination roughly between the cities of Datong and Xi’an which draws countless Chinese tourists each year as a result of its heritage as a Buddhist Pilgrimage site. The story goes that the temples in this valley, surrounded by five peaks, were ‘out of sight’ enough to remain intact during the Cultural Revolution. We got the impression that everything was just rebuilt and renovated, with tourism causing the city to balloon, filled with souvenirs and other cheap rubbish. I was also tremendously confused at various temples which housed shrines to the Communist Chairman Mao- the very man who oversaw the destruction of so many cultural and religious buildings and artefacts. Nonetheless, we were not there to see the shiny new/old temples, but rather to march up the surrounding peaks, and that we did with fervour. The experience was only partially dampened through the combination of construction work at every temple, and the stomach issues that Ruth and I developed after a vegetarian buffet dinner. We thought we’d be safe with vegetarian food…

The journey was rather haphazard, as our path was partially dug up, a large mound of earth scuppering our progress and we progressed along unmarked paths and roads. We wandered with cows, goats, and loudly honking cars. For much of the day we saw no one, enjoyed the sunshine and the distance from the crowded main city and simply took in the views.

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