August 28, 2010

The Hanging Monastery

Sixty five kilometers away from the dusty city of Datong is a sight to behold. A 1400 year old monastery is perched halfway up a sheer cliff wall. Constructed fifty meters up the rock face, the monastery is shielded from flooding of the river below. As I approached it from ground level it did not look that high.

The staircase grew increasingly narrow as I ascended the precipice. The monastery is supported by pillars of wood, which act as stilts. The stairs wind their way underneath the monastery, allowing zany Chinese tourists to vigorously shake the lumber that supports the very temple atop their heads. Once I had climbed up and peered down, my attitude about its altitude changed. With narrow pathways and knee high railings, the monk hang out was quite scary from above. I stuck as close to the walls of the monastery as I could.


"Don't push! Safty first" - an unheeded warning sign atop the Hanging Monastery