Friday, May 27th 2016
From my dwelling place in a hostel in the ancient city of Datong, historically known as Pingcheng, I was brainstorming ways to visit Mount Wutain or “五台山” in simplified Chinese. I really wished to pay a visit to this sacred pilgrimage site associated with the Bodhisattva of Wisdom — Manjushri.
‘What is a bodhisattva?’, you may ask.
A ‘bodhisattva’, although impossible to fully define using words, can be imperfectly explained as an ‘awakened’ being who manifests in a myriad of forms to deliver sentient beings from the sufferings of cyclic existence or ‘samsara’.
As my mind worried itself to finding ways to reach this mountain, the hostel manager Gary told me that there was another person staying in the hostel who was also planning to go visit Mount Wutai. He said I could meet him later in the evening and perhaps we could plan the journey together.
When the scorching sun had set, Gary introduced me to this ‘mystery’ person. His name was Zatko. A tall man, with short curly hair, slightly chubby and spoke a gentle British accent voice that warmly emanated intelligence and peace. He told me he was a traveler and freelanced for travel guides as a job. His latest assignment was to write a section for a travel guide about places to visit in the city of Datong and Mount Wutai.
‘Have you been to Mount Wutai?,’ I asked with scintillating eyes of admiration.
‘Yes, a few years ago. I want to visit again, remember some places and write about them.’ He replied with a kind smile.
‘If you want we can travel together to Mount Wutai. I recommend us sharing a taxi because the bus ride is not very comfortable and the service only runs during certain hours of the day. If we book a taxi, we can make stops on our way and you can visit a beautiful place called Yungang Grottoes filled with ancient Buddhist cave art.’
‘That sounds great. Let’s do that then.’ I tried replying with a stable tone although inside I was bursting with joy and excitement because I had just found a travel companion who really knew how to Travel. I saw Zatko as a manifestation of Freedom — he travelled to places and wrote about his travels for a living. How much ‘Freer’ can you be? I thought to myself.
To be continued… or not haha
but here are some photos of the Yungang Grottoes, enjoy:)
For more information, you can always check…