ZhangyeMay 24 in China ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C
Our first sleeper train proved to be more comfortable and and a lot more fun than I'd expected. With 6 of us crammed into a tiny space, cooperation and some basic acrobatics were required. With no curtains we presented something of a curiosity show to fellow passengers seated in the narrow hallway during dinner and breakfast.
Zhangye is a "small" city of about 1.5 million people. Once an important stopover on the Silk Road, one of its main claims to fame now is that the Dafo Si (a Buddhist Temple) houses the largest reclining Buddha in China. At 34 m long this large clay fellow is breathtaking (unfortunately we weren't allowed to photograph it). While at first appearances it may seem he's simply having a rest, we were to find out later that this pose indicates that he has "gone to paradise" or "reached nirvana". Which basically means he died.
Various other buildings form the temple complex, all set in beautiful gardens. An impressive display of translations of Buddhist text (originally in sanskrit) brought to China by Buddhist monks, included intricate woodcuts prints and even some of the original wood cut blocks.
Also of interest was a large stupa, which is basically a Buddhist shrine where relics of some sort may be kept. It provides a place of worship.
The local markets are great places to observe the shifts in climate and culture that are slowly revealing themselves as we travel along the Silk Road. Fresh and dried fruits, fabulous fungi, eggs - black, white, blue and spotted, even yak meat. Which makes for wonderful (and rather large) meals!
Zhangye's other attraction is Danxia Geological Park, known more colloquially as Rainbow Mountains. But I'll save that for another day.Read more