Wonderful Trip to China (From KUMI Martial Arts Australia)
China Trip – September 2010. This is a trip diary kept by Pam as requested. I’m sure it is still not quite accurate with dates etc... but pretty close. Added parts by Bron. It was hard to recall such a wonderful adventure in its sequence and everyone has their own interpretation, experience and view. Hope this brings it back.
16th Sept – Left Sydney at approx. 6pm on route for Beijing
(12 hour flight).
17th Sept – Beijing, China. Met Vincent Li on the bus back to the hotel. It took nearly 2 hours, but we were all excited. There are 20 million people living in Beijing alone. Huge traffic problems which are partly solved by a system that allows alternate days for odd and even number plates. Cars, scooters and bikes seem to always have the right of way over pedestrians. We are here in Autumn and have a very moderate climate. Can’t imagine how hard the winter would be for these people.
At our first typical Chinese lunch, we were briefed by Chen, who is to be our guide. There were presents for everyone; beautiful Chinese outfits to wear, t-shirt, pants and name badge, so that we cant go astray on trips. Free beer and green tea. I am starting to unwind “big time”. Dinner that night was Chinese Hot Pot. Cook your own in steaming water at the table. Introduced to Rice Wine. Very potent! We will be visiting lots of different restaurants each day. All the food is inclusive in our tour cost.
We had two very strong young men, come to our Hotel room to give us a Chinese massage for one hour. This is a bit different. It was so well worth it. I’m putting my hand up every time someone says massage in the future. (Pam)
What a Day! (Bron)
18th Sept – As we made our way across Tianan Men Square, it was raining and after a quick look around, we entered the Forbidden City, which is 590 years old. It was opened to the general public in 1945 and many people visit each day, not all tourists. The square alone can hold one million people. Everyone is getting busy for ‘mid-Autumn day’. Making moon cakes to hand out.
Chinese people are so hard-working. They only have two days holiday each year. Chinese New Year day and Moon Day in September. We were driven by rickshaw to have lunch with a typical Chinese family in their home. Mr Woo did the cooking! He catered for 27 of us in his small living room and proudly showed us his pet Crickets in a cage. Hutong Village was a part of Beijing that I loved if only for the simple and caring way of the people there.
Then to top it off we went to the Chinese Opera. Costumes, make-up scenery and in fact the opera itself was quite extra-ordinary. A love story with a funny twist is the best way to describe it. (What did Sesame Cakes have to do with two lovers on a bridge?) There seems to be a lot of money spent on theatres around Beijing. The Chinese people love to perform. (Pam)
Behei Park was beautiful. The tea-house was exquisite. I loved the tea, the cups that changed pictures and the flower that sprouted from tea-leaves and water. A massage that afternoon with No. 45 is life-changing. She cracks my neck both ways and I am cured from an ancient injury. It was a scary miracle. Mark is called “Angry Santa” and Blake is called “Mr Beautiful teeth”. I was choking on all the giggling. How about these loos?
Oh My God, the Peking Opera! What an amazing experience... Bright costumes, too much make-up, lots of over-acting, screaming and stomping to a narration that made absolutely no sense. I laughed so much, my face exploded. Very, very good value on every level. (Bron)
19th Sept – To the Great Wall. There are ring roads surrounding Beijing city. For instance, the Olympic Stadium which they call the birds nest is on the 4th ring road. We joined a 5th ring road to exit to the Great Wall which is 500 km and surrounds the city. Constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), this magnificent wall was built on high mountains and is listed as part of the world cultural heritage. Very proud were those of us who gained a certificate for their climb as the day was quite hot. I was happy to sit with a beer and welcome the others back in style. (Pam)
Yes, I am a real man! What a great experience! So many steps, so little breath!
The Emperor’s Palace had wonderful animal statues to climb over. The Acrobatics show was outstanding. Sweet popcorn that disappeared as quickly as Australian popcorn... All while a man on stage, kept flipping his face/mask, calling out Din Din, Yum Yum. Was he psychic? (Bron)
20th Sept – More museums – wonderful pots and statues. So much dedication to one vase! Tai chi ball in the park – it’s great to move. The Temple of Heaven that afternoon. I love the blue and gold colours. Train trip to Zhengzhou that evening. We have beds – hallelujah! (Bron)
21st Sept - Zhengzhou. We arrived after an overnight train trip from Beijing. We visited the professional Wushu/Sanda team. All very tired.
Tai Chi sword women are spectacular! They explode into battles, like mad banshees & gymnasts. I could watch them all day. (Bron)
Checked into the Fengleyuan Hotel. The standout with this hotel, was the Huge Spa Building. Just like a large swimming pool, with jet sprays all around and lit up with fairy lights. We managed to find a pool where little fish nibbled the rough patches off your skin (yes, really!) Hot tiles to lay on, a wonderful massage upstairs, where you could stay the night if you wanted to and the best ice-cream in China so far. (Pam)
Spa Heaven! I mean, out of this world Heaven! Fountains, bubbles, warm water, hot marble floor, steam rooms, saunas. The ultimate pamper trip. Absolute bliss in the middle of nowhere! (Bron)
22nd Sept – On the way to Shoalin Temple, we stopped at a Martial Arts shop, to look at some swords. Next to the shop was a little Kindergarten, where children and their teachers were celebrating Moon Day. They invited me and Sandra in to join them for cake and an apple. One teacher had a little English and I was able to communicate. (As if you need any language to relate to little people). After many hugs and kisses, laughing and singing and photos, I returned to the bus to find lots of little people waving over the fence. Now everyone visited. A big day fo them, but much bigger for us. What a privilege. (Pam).
The children were so happy to see us, even though we didn’t know them. We are swallowed up in a whirlpool of excitement and Love. A very special moment. How magic can a day be? A memory a heart cannot forget. (Bron)
The Shoalin Temple is like Disneyland for Kung Fu. What a place! I want to stay there on my own in the courtyards, without a soul around. Not likely to happen, but when you close your eyes...
Entering the Temple grounds, was hilarious! Ching, Ching! Ching, Ching! It is good to celebrate your prosperity, especially when there are so many willing tourists.
We have been given a wonderful opportunity to attend the Moon Festival Spectacular at night. This is a natural amphitheatre up in the mountains where the story of the little monks and the people of Shaolin is told in dancing and singing. Lighting and sound resonates off the mountains to tell a beautiful story. It is only done once a year on Moon Day, so we are pretty lucky to be here. (Pam)
Oh my goodness, I am transfixed. The music, the horns, the energy, the chanting, the monks, the goats, the kung fu, the balloons, the face of Buddha on the mountain. I will never be the same again. I want to become a monk. (Bron)
23rd Sept – Shoalin International Hotel. Training all day for the martial artists and anyone who would like to try. Tai Chi sword, Tai Chi, Staff and then Sanshou in the afternoon. I went for a wander around the local shops.
24th Sept – Taking a bus over the mountains to Chen Tai Chi Village (the birthplace of Tai Chi in China). I have had a chance to learn more Tai Chi at the school in the afternoon. Push-hands in three different ways. This is a rich mining area of Middle China (coal and copper mines). It was funny to see the corn drying out along the side of the road everywhere. They evidently turn it into cornflour after the busses and cars have squashed them a bit that is! (Pam)
Loved the bus-trip! Yeehaa! (Bron)
25th Sept – Luoyang, Peony Hotel. This is the day we visited the Longmen Grottos, sometimes called the home of Buddhism. It is the summit of Buddhist stone carving art with majestic carved statues of Buddhist monks chisled into the surrounding cliffs. Good place to chant some Buddhism (helps you on the way to paradise). Repeat, over and over....
Ami dab a Buddha, Ami dab a Buddha, ami da ba Buddha.
Peony flowers everywhere. This is our lovely guide’s home town. I think Florence is this flower, she is so beautiful and so patient. I get up early, go for a run and end up dancing with ladies with bright umbrellas in the park. Chinese music blares, they are so welcoming... what a great way to start the day, even in the rain... this is the best exercise! (Bron)
26th Sept – Travelling by bus all day back to the train station, then an overnight sleep back to Beijing. There is good company and many laughs on the bus.
27th Sept – Free morning in Beijing. Headed for some more of that Jasmine tea in the lobby. It is soooo good. Visited the Summer Palace in the afternoon. Home of the Dragon Queen. Built on the side of a lovely lake, this is such a peaceful surround for such a devilish woman, who simply got rid of anyone who stood in her way. (see the film “The Last Emporer”).
28th Sept – Had a completely free day. Bron and I head for the Silk Road Markets. Oh My God! We are in shopping Heaven. Multiple stories of “rip offs”. The Jewellery department takes our breath away.... so many choices, so little time! (Pam)
Is it possible to overdose on shopping? Yes!!!! We had to get out of there, too many bargains. That night we went to “The Legends of Kung Fu” show. It was one of the best stage performance we have ever seen. Unbelievable and so deeply moving. I cried during the show, after the show in the taxi, and that night at 3am, I am still crying about those Kung Fu Monks. I am a wreck! Very spiritual and inspiring. (Bron).
29th Sept - Training in the morning, workshops in the afternoon at a nearby University. We learned Chinese Medicine, with Dr Wang, Chinese Musical Instruments and Calligraphy. It was a very comprehensive and interesting course with the SCIC Beijing. (Study & Culture International, Corporation Beijing, China). On our last night, we went to a Morrocan Restaurant, just for a change. Rice wine, belly dancers, the lot. We were presented with a lovely certificate for passing the course. (Pam)
30th Sept – With bags packed to capacity and heavy hearts, it is time to say goodbye to all of our new friends as we head for home. Plane leaves for Sydney at 1.20pm . (12 hours overnight flight). Yes it is good to be home again, but what an experience,
Much Love to All, Pam.
What a fantastic life experience. My heart is so sad somewhere. The best people in the Universe to share it all with. Thanks for all the laughs and smiles, Bron x.