CHINA 1997: WOODEN PAGODA IN YINGXIAN

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I traveled to China in 1997, not even 20 years old, full of adventurous spirits and ideas. My Chinese was limited, as was my budget. Crappy hotels, long bus and train rides, fun people along the way, excellent food and unforgettable memories, that’s what I remember. It certainly was a different China, but I am truly grateful, that I was able to see and experience it, for it is gone.

The wooden pagoda in Yingxian, a part of Shuozhou city, around 50 miles south of Datong, Shanxi, is famous for being the world’s tallest all wood pagoda. It is located in the 500.000 souls city of Shuozhou, although in 1997 this city resembled a small village rather than a city.

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The view from the wooden pagoda in 1997 shows a village of small to medium sized adobe or clay houses. I still remember the public toilet just outside the pagoda’s premises: A pit with a wooden fence around, left the women and right the men.

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This unpaved road led to the pagoda’s entrance. Bustling, chaotic and already featuring some western tourists, if you look closely. I am sure not a single brick of this old town is still there. What I see from aerial images of Shouzhou and Yingxian, it appears to be a medium sized modern Chinese city consisting of Skyscrapers and medium sized boulevards.

Also please excuse the quality of the pictures. I had no money for a decent camera in 1997.

The wooden pagoda in Yingxian county, Shuozhou city – Google Maps:

39.565058, 113.182178

 

 

 

 

 

 

China 1997: DATONG

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I traveled to China in 1997, not even 20 years old, full of adventurous spirits and ideas. My Chinese was limited, as was my budget. Crappy hotels, long bus and train rides, fun people along the way, excellent food and unforgettable memories, that’s what I remember. It certainly was a different China, but I am truly grateful, that I was able to see and experience it, for it is gone.

It took me 8 hours on an extremely dirty train to reach Datong in the northern part of the Shanxi province from Beijing Station. I remember a lot of blood and syringes on the trains toilet. Next to the Datong train station was a huge hotel, where I was forced to stay. A member of the CITS travel agency met my on the platform, he was waiting for foreigners probably, to usher me to this place. It was OK, though.

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As I walked around the city, I noticed coal dust everywhere, even on the buses. The city’s hutong was still there at the time, also covered in coal dust, but interesting all the same. Next to the hutong was a small temple with a beautiful and serene garden. Absolutely peaceful and quiet.

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I have no idea if this temple garden is still there. It might not be. The hutong is gone, I am sure. If anyone knows, let me know.

Also please excuse the quality of the pictures. I had no money for a decent camera in 1997.

Datong, Shanxi Google Maps: 40.079248, 113.305580

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