We started our day with a 2-hour bus ride to Luoyang City, where we visited the Tianzi Jialiu Museum. Luoyang is the site of the capital city for the Eastern Zhou Dynasy (770 BC – 256 BC). The burial site here is even earlier than that of the Terra Cotta Warriors (Qin Dynasty, 221 BC – 206 BC). The small (compared with others we have visited on this tour) museum is built over the sacrificial pit area for the emperors in Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770BC – 256BC) and includes the burial site of the royal horse and chariots.
We also visited The Longmen Grottos, located in the south of Luoyang City, between Mount Xiang and Mount Longmen, facing the Yi River. It’s a stunning site, and the grottoes and caves here are regarded as some of the most famous treasure houses of stone inscriptions in China. The grotto was started around the year 493, when Emperor Xiaowen of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) moved the capital to Luoyang. They were built continuously for 400 years. The scenery measures 1,000 metres (about 1,094 yards) from north to south, where there are over 2,300 holes and niches, 2,800 steles, 40 dagobas, 1,300 caves and 100,000 statues. Most of them are the works of the Northern Wei Dynasty and the flourishing age of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
That evening we attended the Shaolin Zen Music Ritual performance, after a nice dinner at a restaurant near the performance site. Set in a valley between two mountains with a highly picturesque, natural backdrop, this outdoor theater show, we were told, was designed by the same individual who headed up the design of the opening ceremony for the Olympics in Beijing. China tourism sites claim it features:
- the world’s biggest lighting system, consisting of more than 2,800 lights controlled by computers, stretching all along Mt. Songshan, from the foot to the summit at 1,400 meters
- the biggest stage projector, which covers an area of five square kilometers
- biggest man-made moon, which rises from the forest in Mt. Songshan. Also controlled by computers, it reaches a diameter of 20 meters
- the world’s most difficult and highest fighting spectacles. The monks fly and tumble at a height of 80 meters
- the world’s most magnificent monks’ chanting scene
The show is really like nothing we’ve seen in the U.S. It is highly musical and technologically and visually spectacular. But in a beautiful, natural setting. And it was full of surprises such as the live goats, including a baby.
“One of my favorite parts of the trip was seeing the Shaolin Zen Music Performance in the mountains near the Shaolin Temple in Henan. It was completely outdoors, with the ‘stage’ (consisting of a creek, a bridge, several open areas, and some small buildings) located in a valley area between mountains, and the audience on padded bleachers facing it. It was something I had never experienced, totally unique, and I thought it was really neat. The show itself was fantastic, featuring dozens of performers (including about a dozen goats!) who would perform dances and skits set to Chinese music. There was even some Shaolin Kung Fu involved! And the special effects were cool too; spotlights would dance around, floodlights would change color and provide ambient lighting, and somehow, a giant moon appeared, peeking out above one of the mountains. The entire show was fantastic, very worthwhile to see, and it allowed me to gaze into some of the local performance culture, as well. It was truly a phenomenal experience.” — Terence Madlangbayan