Photographer's Note

This is a point and shoot from Datong at a street crossing in central Datong. What I noticed when I got the film developed was that everybody in this picture looks sad or bored or something. Actually people were really nice here, but they have reasons to be depressed, Datong is one of the worlds top three most polluted cities. It is surrounded by coal mines and many of it's citizens work in the all but safe mines. Early nights and mornings one could hear the sound of explosions from the mountains and there were caravans of trucks going through the city several times a day loaded with coal. I don't smoke but I think my two day stay in Datong did as much damage to my lungs as a few years of smoking. Datong was the capital of some chinese dynasty around 500 A.D. and has ~3 million citizens.

One rather charming incident happened on the day of our departure. We were heading towards Hengshan to see some of the monasteries. We weren't sure how to get there so we asked a taxi driver to drive us to the right bus station. He wasn't sure either but he drove around and asked people at different bus stops if there was any bus in that direction. At the last place we stopped he was out of the taxi for a few minutes so the taxameter went up one yuan or so during that time (from 5 to 6 yuan or something, 7 yuan is approx. one USD) but when we payed he refused to accept that last yuan. As anybody knows who's ever taken a cab that is not the way it usually goes. So we left Datong with some kind of warm feeling in spite of the bad air.

The bus we took circled around town for half an hour picking up passangers, there didn't seem to be any special bus stop but during that half hour we picked up ten people or so just by yelling the name of city we were going to through the window. It was a three hour ride, one would think that people planned ahead of taking a bus like that...

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Additional Photos by Simon Mitternacht (mitternacht) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 818 W: 280 N: 267] (1839)
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