Spectacular setting of the Majishan Grottos, a Buddhist cave complex.
The reason for coming to Tianshui was the Maijishan Grottoes, Buddhist caves located some 35 km south of the Beidao district. So the next morning we got ourselves a taxi outside the hotel. Our female taxi driver was dressed in a tight black miniskirt and a black laced blouse, only the high-heeled shoes were missing, perhaps uncomfortable whilst driving. Brightly red-painted lips, dark sunglasses, and chewing gum. I could not help thinking about the Karaoke bar that kept us awake for most of the night. She must have been there, too.
The grottoes are spectacular. They have been hewn out a 200 m vertical cliff face, and in order to reach them, an incredible network of walkways and staircases has been constructed from metal and wood, leading the visitor past each and every cave. Many parts of the rock face are badly eroded, and many caves are closed, or can only be viewed through chicken wire, probably a testimony to earlier vandalism. Indeed, many of the Buddhist statues were conspicuously headless, and large sections of the frescos were missing. Yet, there is enough to marvel at, and we easily spent a couple of hours exploring the entire area. To get back to town we got into a minibus, ready to depart, which means it was just about filled to the hilt. As the first few minutes went down hill, the driver saw no reason to switch on the engine and waste precious petrol. Later, whilst dropping off or picking up passengers, he also saw no reason to break and bring the bus to a full stop: that would have been another waste of petrol.
Continue: In Tianshui (3)