The problem with writing a travel blog, you spend a lot of time traveling. Our expert guide, Miller, is a history buff and very into temples. Although I negotiated one less temple on the way into Ping Yao, he tacked it onto next day’s drive to Datong. When I got us out of seeing the Yungang Grottoes in Datong, using the blog as my excuse, we learned you don’t mess with Buddha while in China.
The bad news came via an email. We have to use the hotspot on Geoff’s phone for an internet connection to allow gmail. It has cost us $150 to check email 3 times in the first week of travel. That has nothing to do with the lesson, just know the world wide web can be expensive.
Here is the lesson. We discovered the first train on the Trans-Siberian Railway from Beijing to the Mongolian border had been canceled. We would be traveling as a group of 190, for 3 hours in 8 buses, back to Datong, out to the Yungang Grottoes, then staying a night in Datong before another 6 hours by bus before we board the Russian train to Moscow. We had not even considered adding tour bus onto our methods of traveling around-the -world for good reason. This is poem sent to Geoff as a gift before we left.
Geoff opposed the 11 day train trip on the grounds of hating large group tours. Now he gets the large group and a long bus ride. The poem, at the end, promises if we don’t carry the Cycloes with us, it will not hurt us. This will be our first test of the poem, the trip, and the marriage.
There is, of course, more to this trip than just the bumps on the road. I would be attaching amazing photos of the Hanging Monastery in Datong, the one temple we did visit. However, I cannot upload photos to the blog anymore even using Geoff’s hotspot. The monks chose to build this monastery, honoring Buddha, Confucius, and Laozi,1400 years ago on a huge rock wall. Even photos do not do justice to the scale or the engineering wonder of it all. And my writing skills certainly do not allow me to describe it. To get that, you have to buy a ticket to China and drive for 5 hours.
When you start on your journey to Ithaca,
then pray that he road is long,
full of adventure, full of knowledge.
Do not fear the Lestrygonians
and the Cyclopes and the angry Poseidon.
You will never meet such a these on your path,
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your body and your spirits.
You will never meet the Lestrygonians,
the Cyclopes and the fierce Poseidon,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not raise them up before you. Then pray that the road is long.
that the summer moorings are many,
that you will enter ports seen for the first time
with such pleasure , with such joy!
Stop at Phoenician markets,
and purchase fine merchandise,
mother -of-pearl and corals, amber and ebony,
and pleasurable perfumes of all kinds,
buy many pleasurable perfumes as you can;
visit bots of Egyptian cities,
to learn and learn from those who have knowledge. Always keep Ithaca fixed in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for long years’
and even to anchor at the isle when you are old,
rich with all that you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches. Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage.
Without her you would have never taken the road.
But she has nothing more to give you. And if you fine her poor, Ithaca has not defauded you.
with the great wisdom you have gained, with so much experience,
you must surely have understood by then what Ithacas mean.