We seemed to be the only westerners in Luoyang when we visited. It was the middle of a bitter, Chinese winter and the further north we travelled the deeper the ice-laden wind cut.
When we arrived at our hostel we realised it was a flat shared with the owner and his son in the centre of residential Luoyang. We found that we could only communicate through Google Translate, and, after a few false attempts he managed to tell us we should do three things here: eat steamed dumplings, see the Longmen Grottoes and take the local bus to the Luoyang Musuem – a mausoleum of Chinese antiquities and treasures.
After two hours staring at jade, ivory and precious statues behind glass, we wandered back into the pale sunlight and straight into this gentleman. He sits, with his barrel of hot, roasted sweet potatoes, by the museum gates everyday, through summer and winter.
The smell of singed potato skin enticed us closer and, when he flashed us that smile we were powerless to resist. We left with handfuls of hot potato, warming our hands though our gloves for the bus home.
If anyone is heading to Luoyang I would love to know if he is still there…
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