We rose early! It would be a great day of traveling to Datong and to visit the Yungang Grottoes (Buddha Caves) before continuing on to Hunyuan County! I was SO excited. Not only to re-visit these wonderful places but to be able to reconnect with my friend's parents (Hua's parents) and his two beautiful daughters, Amy and Audrey, who are living with their grandparents for now until things improve for Hua and his wife (my dear friend), Tracy, as she finishes law school. I've traveled to Hunyuan County before but it was by night train....so to be able to go with friends by car was a special experience. :)
My great friend, Seven, traveled with us and was able to provide wonderful translation for us as we met up with folks who speak no English! Here, she's in front of a statue at the Yungang Grottoes that required us to stop through many "fake" places in order to finally get up to the caves themselves. I did NOT have this trouble in 2006 when I was at this same place....but in the interim they have constructed it to be much more of a tourist spot than it was and that.....well, very sad. It requires a LOT of walking just to get to the site itself....while passing by many modern reconstructions of famous things....but honestly, they have no real meaning and it's easy to see it's just for "tourist" purposes!
The tram dumped us out at the entrance to the Buddha Caves but also right in front of a couple of camels which one could pay money to ride and take photographs! :) Those Chinese......they know how to make a buck! :)
Seven pets the camel! As sad as it was to see these tethered camels being exploited for tourists....it was also a one-in-a-lifetime thing for Miles and Sofi (the youngest of the Griffith kids) to be able to ride on the back of a camel!