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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tianshui and Maiji Mountain

Tianshui is the second largest city in Gansu Province, but you'd never know it - I spent almost a week there and I thought it was only about 400,000 people! I thought it was a small city until I looked it up on Wikipedia after my trip! It has a real small-town feel to it; people are happy and seem to know each other, life is super-relaxed, and the natural beauty surrounding the city makes you forget that you're in a big city. Crazy!

Overall, I think Tianshui is my favorite city (or possibly Huan Xian, but we'll get there later). I had a wonderful time meeting lots of great people and eating some good food - especially the mutton. It was a really enjoyable experience. 

Benjamin Xi, a Chinese friend of mine who studied a year at ETBU, has an uncle who lives there and own the 黄河原 water company, a prominent bottled water/office water cooler supply company. Here's a picture of them:

He knows pretty much everyone in the city, but he's way down to earth. He was so nice and so gracious. One day he took us to Maiji Mountain, a very famous mountain in China.

When we got there, he called the Tianshui tourism bureau or whatever it is, and the head of the bureau let us in for free because he's a friend. Holy crap! The entrance fee was like 80元 or something, and we had 8 of us! Well done, sir!

We climbed the mountain and took a lot of pictures and really enjoyed the scenery. After that, we went to a really cool restaurant over a little pond and had some great food and great conversation. 

He wants me to come back and visit him when I return to China and come into his business and help maybe branch out to other places! We'll see what happens :)

Tianshui was a great place and Maiji Shan was truly majestic, but the treasure of Tianshui lies in its people. They're so loving, giving, open and hospitable, so it was tough to leave there, but I have fond memories of the times I had.

The mountain is immediately visible from a distance due to what I call its "straight-down-ness".

Not natural.

Wow, there's a lot of empty space here with this picture haha...

Anyway, I had only heard of the place and hadn't seen any pictures or anything, so I didn't know what to expect...needless to say, I was struck by the scale of it -- it's a freaking mountain full of Buddhist carvings!! A MOUNTAIN!!!


If you click on the picture, you can see how tiny the people are in comparison to the stature. It's insane.

All of those little windows are grottoes with statues/paintings inside.

There's 194 of them.

That doesn't sound like a lot, but trust me, 194 grottoes handcarved into the side of a freaking mountain is a big deal. 

Normally, I hate having pictures taken of me, but this time I had to do it --- the scenery was just to beautiful and the place was just too unique to do without it.

Some of the Buddhas like this one date back almost 1,000 years. Dude, look at that. Looks pretty good for 1,000 years unrestored! Carving grottoes was a good idea -- keeps the paint out of the sunlight!

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