My last big stop before getting back to Beijing was Zhengzhou,
the capital of Henan Province. It was a 19 hour trip by night train from
Guilin. The train arrived almost on the minute! I'm
impressed by the Chinese railroads.
I heard later that Henan is a poor province. I didn't really notice, but it
was actually the only time I had something stolen from me. It was just a
package of cigarettes on the train while I was sleeping, but anyway.
The Internet Bar tells the standard
It wasn't very easy to find the internet bar. It usually isn't in China,
but this was harder than ever. When I asked, people pointed at a restaurant and
I looked around at the building and around the corners but didn't find
it anywhere. Finally I realized that I had to go
through the restaurants kitchen, up stairs to the second floor, passing some public
toilettes, and then finally, I found the internet sign, wong ba.
At the internet bar I had the worst keyboard ever. There were no print left on the
keys, well maybe one and a half letter. Not really easy to use. After
one hour the time was out and they just shut off the power, I lost my connection and
everything I had written. So I just had to book a new computer and start
all over again. Besides, very carefully
they registered my passport and visa number before I was allowed use the
computer. Twice! Strange place, what's going on here?
Student showing his abilities at
Dengfeng boarding school.
|Going to Shaolin Si?
My goal wasn't Zhengzhou itself but the Shaolin Temple, Shaolin Si.
It's not so far away, a couple of hours west of the capital. If you
haven't heard about it, it's the world most famous and legendary school of Kung Fu,
Chinese martial art. I got there by
Well actually, I didn't get there, because a guy who was eager to
guide me, told me to get off at
the wrong bus stop. Fooled again! I ended up at a small village called
Dengfeng. I think the guide got some form of provision from the local
A nice mistake
As I've said, when you don't know the
language you never know what's going to happen. But in a way this was
good, because I
ended up at a small rural primary school. Like most schools in this area
they were focusing on martial art studies. No westerners in sight.
Well, at the school I met a interesting Israeli guy and we had company
for a couple of days. The main
Shaolin school of today has became a real tourist business. This was
more the real thing.
The pagoda in Dengfeng, on the top of the
twenty minute exercise to get there.
Stairs, stairs, stairs .
Like all schools in the neighborhood it was a
boarding school. It's said that there are about 7000 students in the
whole area. The students is mainly in the age from 4-5 years to18 years, but
I also met some older guys.
It was a very poor school. The students lived in dorms with 8 to 20 students in
each room. The food was very simple. Corn soup, some vegetable and a piece
of bread, maybe occasionally, there was some meat. There were no hot
water anywhere, the toilets were VERY dirty, and
the shower? Well, we never found it! I washed my hair in the cleaners sink.
The children was hard drilled. The daily exercise begun at 5.30 am.
7 o'clock it was breakfast and then it was time to clean the school
yard. During the day the students then had ordinary lectures. And finally
at the end of the day, when it became
dark around 7 pm, it was time for a
couple of hours more physical training.
I think a lot of those kids grows up to be police officers, military staff,
security guards etcetera. Of course some students is to become acrobats
or Kung Fu masters, and maybe be doing shows all around the world.
Really funny kids at Dengfeng.
|Again fool again
I paid fore some exercise but the teacher never showed
up. I think the teacher, who was a student himself, found it embarrassing
to teach stupid, ugly and overweighed foreigners. Besides at this
school they wasn't used to deal with foreigners. We did have some arguing about this.
Off to the Real Place
So anyway, in the early morning, me and the Israeli guy went by a bus
cab to the REAL temple instead. At the time the
Shaolin Si is, like so many other places in China, now transformed into a
giant tourist circus,
and probably it has lost some of its old charm.
On the other hand, the whole place was burnt down in 1928, and not rebuilt until in the
90th. The tourists now brings new money to the temple and they make big efforts into rebuilding the temple
and garden in a old fashion way.
Early morning exercise at the Shaolin
temple. The morning haze is still lying heavy over the hills.
What the ****
are they doing!?
We watched a 30 minute performance inside the school by
some of the master students. Extraordinary show! I'll promise you have
never seen anything like this, ever! Acrobatics, fighting scenes, power demonstrations,
and some spectacular, unbelievable exercise, like the one above.
At the area we also found a small
Daoist temple with some strange statues. Very dusty though, they could
have had use of a new cleaner I think.
|The Center of the
The Shaolin Temple is not just one temple among all other. In ancient
time the government was looking for places to be associated with the
five elements of Chinese philosophy. Very simplified explained as the
north, south, west, east and the center. After years of searching they
found this place as representing the center of the universe, and the
temple was built here.
Later on, in the 5th century, a monk by the name of Buddhi Dharma arrived
at the temple. He was to become the founder of Zen Buddhism in China as
well as the inventor of the modern martial art.
The Holy Cave
To achieve his greatness he again left the temple for meditation. On the hillside
close to the Shaolin Temple he found a cave where it's said that he
stayed for nine years meditating. The legend even says that he spent
so long time in the cave that when he left, his shadow remained on the
wall. Today, the stone with his shadow is moved to the Shaolin Temple.
The holy cave. The stone with the
shadow of Buddhi Dharma is now removed to the temple.
Stairway to heaven.
with the pilgrims
So today, by natural causes, this mountain is a important goal for
pilgrims. Me and the Israeli guy spent the afternoon walking all the way
up to the top. It was a couple of hours hard work to get to the top, but
by now, at least I, was used to climb those Chinese stairs.
A Funny Troupe
At the stairs we actually met a Japanese Buddhist on his pilgrim way to
see the cave. Very gentle guy. We all kept company a couple of day and
formed a funny troupe, a Israeli Jew, a Swedish atheist and a Japanese
Buddhist born in Argentine.
Going back to Dengfeng we all three together hired a bus cab. We had a
female driver because we thought it should be safer. Kind of crazy tour.
The problem was, we didn't really know where we were going. In the
morning we were just angry with the school and took off without really
noticing where we were going.
Now we circled around in the village and the female driver got really
pissed of with us. She stepped on the gas pedal, but wanted to through
us off. We yelled at each other and argued, but finally found the right
place, jumped out of the bus and paid. No tip today.
The holy Buddha, watching over the
Jim from Argentine outside the
entrance to Shaolin Si
I was there! On the top to see the
holy cave and the Buddha.