This is Real China

Longmen Caves


Henan province–河南–birthplace of Chinese civilization. (Not Hunan, that’s south, but KHUUH-nan, the heartland). Four ancient capitals. Legendary Shaolin. Longmen Buddha grottoes…

Old Luoyang

Shaolin Pagoda Forest

…the world’s largest kung fu school at Shaolin Temple. I was sick in a hotel bed and saw none of it.

Shaolin kung fu

Kung fu

Thus, during my few feverish moments of alertness in the van, I saw only right-now China. That is: high-rise construction. Thirty years ago, Henan was one of the poorest places on earth, subject to killer floods and mass starvation. Today it’s growth is, if this can even be imagined, faster than China’s as a whole, dependent on “dwindling aluminum and coal reserves, agriculture, heavy industry, tourism, and retail” (Wikipeda). Here, without any romantic tourist tint, is the breathtaking reality. Have a look:

Luoyang, Henan

Henan is home to about 94 million people.

Zhengzhou, Henan

Sadly, because of corrupt blood-drive practices, many thousands here in so-called “AIDS Villages” are infected with HIV.


Everything 5- or 6-story is coming down and in its place, it seems only the 40-storey skyscraper will do. Another observation in restaurants: walls of bottles, tables covered with glasses. This is a big drinking province — hard liquor.

More modern Henan

It’s 6 hours from Beijing by bullet train, 9 hours on the slower overnight sleeper. Many Beijing students hail from Henan.)

40-storey, typically

Here is real China.

Henan sunset


By Kenny

Us being photographed by a stone horse.

I guess some people find it amusing to see a western kid jumping on a stone horse. I would also take a picture of that.

This is what happened to us at the Longmen Buddha Caves in Henan Province in Luoyang city: having the feeling we were movie stars.

Someone wanted this photo with us

Well it’s a bit rare to see to foreign kids standing or meditating in a small Buddha cave. Must be more interesting the seeing 1000 year old Buddhas carved into cliffs.

…and the same thing happens again.

I would agree that the most famous stone Buddha in all of the province can always be better if you get a foreign kid to pose in it with you.

It is rather fun and not annoying to get a photo taken with other people.

As they say, 2 is always better than 1.

You definitely do not see a whole Chinese tour group take a photo around the rock and kid, now do you?

So this is what happens when David yells at you: “God damn it, Ethan, if you don’t get off those rocks then you are not going on your residential trip, do you hear me?” And then comes 1 Chinese guy who starts laughing, climbs up the rock to get next to Ethan so his friend can take a photo.

But the funniest part is that if Ethan did not go on the residential trip, he would be marked for being absent.

It’s nice when someone gives you a hug and photo…….

…but a kiss takes it to a new level. And by the way, that was my first time meeting her.

A good way to show off to your friends and prove you that you met a foreigner.

(And these are the reason for going to Longmen Caves in the first place:)

Longmen Cave's most famous big Buddha

Buddha's hanger-ons


We’re leaving momentarily for the night train to visit the Shaolin Temple (and nearby sights over 3 days, like Longmen giant Buddha caves, & ancient capital of Luoyang). In province of Henan.

…not to be confused with Hunan…or Hainan. Or Yunan. (Or since it’s Purim: Haman.)

More monk obsession. News soon.