Iron Pagoda wasn’t on my bucket list, but smaller attractions like this reminds me that the less traveled paths are just as beautiful and charming as the bigger ones.


Bricks of Buddha that make up the Iron Pagoda in #Kaifeng, #China. #travel

A photo posted by Monica Wong (@_monicawong) on

You know that stereotype that Asian’s can’t drive. I can prove otherwise. Well, my cab driver in Kaifeng can. The town’s alleyways were so narrow that the walls and side mirrors were only an inch apart. The cab driver sped through it while striking up a casual conversation. It reminded me of that carnival game where you move a metal ring down a rotating metal rod. If the two pieces touched, you’d get zapped. Driving down that alley felt just like that. At any moment, the car could crash and I’d be zapped.

I was heading toward the Iron Pagoda on my last day. The cab driver turned into Chatty Cathy after he learned that my travel companion’s grandparents were from Henan Province, the province where Kaifeng is located. In China, provincialism is strong. People from the same province are more willing to help each other as opposed to someone from a different province. This came in handy since the Iron Pagoda closed before we arrived. With a few laughs and a couple of pats on the back, the cab driver got us past the guards with free admission.

The Iron Pagoda didn’t top my discovery of Chinese Jews but I was still glad to have made it out there. The Iron Pagoda isn’t made out of iron. It’s actually made of bricks. They call it the Iron Pagoda because of the color. Each brick is uniquely carved with over fifty different images of Buddha, standing monks, flowers, lions, dragons and other engravings. It’s little things like this that reminds me you don’t have to visit populated cities to find beauty in another culture. Sometimes the smaller, less traveled paths are just as beautiful and charming.

Monica reflects on her travels by sharing her thoughts on A Cup of Moca. She writes about her journey as she experiences the destination to encourage others to marinate in the moment instead of just checking things off a bucket list.