China Tour 2013
April 10th – 23rd, 2013

April 16th
We are relaxing this morning….we don’t leave until noon today to visit the Longmen Grottos so it is a time to rest, or walk around the area…the hotel is located in a very nice area with lots of trees and water. People are out doing tai chi and others are flying kites.

Left at noon for lunch of local food in a tiny village like setting then on to the grottoes. We are in the Hunan Province where 105 emperors have lived and died in Luoyang…imagine the history here. Longman means ‘Dragon Gate’ and this was the gate through which those emperors came asking for blessings. Construction was started here in 493. The grottoes face the Yi river and there is a beautiful bridge connecting both the grottoe side and the other side which has an old monk monastery. It is now an aged nursing home. There are 2100 caves and niches and they were once filled with Buddha’s. A lot of them have been destroyed or looted…some of the heads even cut off and displayed at museums like the British Museum and the New York Metropolitan Museum. Thankfully the largest – at around 17 meters high – is there and intact. On either side of this one there are others, not quite as large, that are still intact as well so you can get an idea of what was once here by the hundreds. The biggest ones were for the emperors and the others were done for nobles.

In 1949 the state declared them a state treasure and they are now under protection.

We got back to the hotel with about an hour to rest before heading out for our dinner, a Luoyang Water Banquet, considered to be one of the three wonders of Luoyang. The peony and the Longman Grottoes are the other two. Empress Wu of the Tang Dynasty ( ) started this when she decided she was tired of the food and wanted something different. The chef decided to make soups of everything and she liked that. It flows like a river with one dish after the other. Now we had other dishes besides soups and numbers of soups or dishes can change – I think we had 12 courses but it is usually 8 cold and 16 hot for a total of 24. Sour vegetables egg soup, called "farewell dish", indicating all dishes have been served is always the last dish. Needless to say we were really quite full!

The most notable first dish in the Luoyang Water Banquet is the Luoyang Swallow Dish. It is said that when Wu was in Luoyang, a giant turnip weighing many kilograms grew in the field in Dongguan. Farmers thought it was a miracle, and dedicated it to the Empress. Wu. The imperial cooks studied it and decided to steam the shredded turnip mixed with starch, then blend it with delicious soup. The Empress was very impressed by the swallow nest-like flavor, and complimented it a lot, and named it "Swallow Dish". In October 1973, Chinese Premier, Zhou Enlai accompanied Canadian Premier Pierre Trudeau to visit Luoyang. Renowned cooks Wang Changsheng and Li Daxiong carefully made the Luoyang swallow dish. The two premiers ordered it twice and complimented it a lot.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped by the lake to watch a water display at the huge fountains. It was magical with all the colours. What is interesting about this city is that they use a lot of lights at night with colour everywhere. Since it is the peony festival, there are banners up everywhere and even one of the large office buildings had peonies in lights all over the façade of the building.

Looking forward to our visit tomorrow!


  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row