Belatedly discovering a Shanxi well worth exploring

Updated: 2015-08-13 13:23

By Yvonne Horst(

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Belatedly discovering a Shanxi well worth exploring

Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi province. [Photo by Thanin Yous/ For]

My first memories of Shanxi date back to early 2011, during Spring Festival. Back then I visited the ancient city of Pingyao and the Yungang Grottoes. Pingyao was an old, pleasant place and I loved it, but I was especially impressed with the grottoes — their size, the great condition of the Buddha statues and the seemingly endless number of caves, especially the small ones. My plans were to head to Shaanxi and slowly make my way south to end in Kunming, so unfortunately I had only a little time to explore Shanxi. I say unfortunately because now I have seen so much more, I know that Shanxi is well worth exploring.

I have to admit that those first memories weren't the best. Datong made me feel depressed — the cold, the grayness and the strong scent of charcoal being burnt to keep the city's inhabitants warm didn't make me feel at ease. All those factors made me dislike the city. Although I was impressed with the Yungang Grottoes and the ancient feel of Pingyao, I didn’t feel an urge to return to Shanxi and explore more of the province.

My latest memories are from only a week ago and quite different from those first ones. When I think back to the “Shanxi through the eyes of foreigners” trip I was part of, I think of the lush green mountains I saw while on the roads, the monks saying their prayers and chanting, the Hanging Monastery that impressed me with its architecture and the amazing food I ate.

As a food lover, I was lucky to sample all kinds of local dishes, from noodles to fried buns with red bean paste and dishes with meat that melted on my tongue. I especially remember the cold noodles with vegetables and vinegar; which I could definitely eat every day.

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