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White Horse Temple 白馬寺

White Horse Temple 白馬寺

For my last free day in Zhengzhou, I booked a tour (with the help of a student who could speak some English) to visit Luoyang, including the White Horse Temple and the Longmen Caves (also referred to as the Longmen Grottoes).

I was picked up at my hotel at 7 a.m. Two hours, lots of traffic, and about eight hotel pickups later we were on our way. Or so I thought…

The tour guides didn’t say a word to me all day as they couldn’t speak English. The tour guide kept mentioning Shaolin Temple as she spoke in Chinese to the rest of the group. That was the only word I could catch. I assumed she was trying to sell them a tour of Shaolin Temple on another day. When we made the turnoff for Shaolin Temple I resigned myself to the fact that I was put with the wrong tour group, and I was going to get another tour of Shaolin Temple. Ugh. As everyone got out of the van for Shaolin Temple the guide held up the stop sign hand to me. It turns out the tour splits at Shaolin Temple, and I was going to the correct place after all. Yeah!

white horse temple henan china

The White Horse Temple is China’s oldest Buddhist temple dating back nearly 2,000 years. I’m not sure how old the various parts of the temple actually are now as most has probably been reconstructed. Some things looked extremely old, but they could have been built last week for all I know.

luoyang buddhism china

I would have liked to have spent an hour or two at the White Horse Temple, taking pictures and soaking in the feel of the place. Unfortunately, I was stuck with my tour group (despite the fact I couldn’t understand a word being said), and was therefore only afforded a quick walk through the place. One member of the group was from Singapore. He could say things to me in English but couldn’t really understand my responses. He told me that the guide was taking us across the way to see flowers and we would have to pay to enter. This turned into the theme for the rest of the day. The guide would take us places to get us to pay more, and she would get a kickback. Meanwhile, I spent no more than two hours total at the two places I wanted to see on what turned out to be a 12-hour tour. If I had it to do over again I would have taken a bus. Had I done so I could have spent twice as long at the White Horse Temple and Longmen Grottoes in half the time. I also would have probably gotten lost and still be stuck in some “Grapes of Wrath” corner of China.

ancient brick stone building china

The tourist from Singapore said the guide said the above wall was ancient. 2,000 years old? Maybe parts of it.

oldest buddhist temple in china

I’ll have more photos from Luoyang, China here soon…

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