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The Week of October 31st: Golden Top

It is that time: time to renew our Chinese Visas. This means pictures, a trip to the police station and money. $400 for two – 3 month visas. Ouch! It is way more expensive for Americans. If we were from Norway it would only be $50. Apparently, they base what they charge people on what their citizens are charged by those countries when they want a visa to visit and “good old” USA is the greediest. Does our government realize their behavior affects us all….Do they care? Anyway, things are in process. This also causes another issue, as they keep our passports for many days and as poor timing would have it, this means I can’t pick up the money that Gary wired to pay the school because I need my passport to do that too. The joys of travel!

Also, Kailin and I are falling apart. My knees continue to hurt, as a matter of fact, all my joints hurt. Kailin has hurt her shoulder, but she doesn’t remember how. She can’t lift it above shoulder height. According to both Niko and Simon, who have been here longest, this is normal. When people come to the mountain initially they are very sore the first few days and sick in the 2nd week. We did this…then somewhere around the 3rd month everything starts to fall apart as the forms get tougher and the body has been under the strain of 6+ hours of working out per day. Then supposedly!, things get better and you emerge much stronger….I am awaiting that day. Until then we are seeing a lot of Master Du.

We have started our next forms. Kailin is learning Xuan Gong (Wushu fast kicking form) and I am learning The 12 Brochades (Qi Gong slow form). My knees need more time before a fast form. Also I continue teaching a yoga/stretch class which is growing. The Lithuanians have joined in. The weather has been spectacularly beautiful, so we have been having yoga class in the sunshine before lunch and dinner. The kids are really becoming friendly. Today while I was hanging out in the sun they brought me a couple of little fresh water crabs they caught and snacks. They are so sweet and curious. I wish my Chinese was better. There is so much I would like ask them. Also there has been big group of French acupuncturist here this week studying Qi Gong and herbs. I remember being where they are…so fascinated and poking needles in anything that will stand still. It was good to chat with them.

We (KK, Krishna, and I) went to Golden Top on Wednesday. There are two ways up, we were going to walk the back way (2000+stairs), but it was so beautiful that we really just wanted to go and take pictures, so we took the bus and then the gondola up. It was a good choice. There are no words to describe Golden Top. The Chinese believe it is where heaven touches the earth. I’m fairly sure they are right. Like all the temples here, it was built forever ago and Taoists have been coming here for all that time to commune with the Divine. Golden Top really starts with Lower, Middle and Upper Temples in Qiong Tai, where one purifies themself for the final journey to Zijin City that guards the gate to Golden Temple itself.

How they managed to build it is a mind bending question. To this day they have mules carrying things up the mountain but to get that much building material up must have been huge 1500 years ago. I feel for the mules even today and my heart breaks for all the lives that must have gone into the initial building. None the less, it is a magical place and the energy is amazing. Years of near constant prayer have elevated the ethers to where the reduction of oxygen in the air feels normal.

They have a tradition of leaving brass heart locks on the chain linked hand rails on the way up and throughout the temple grounds. You can buy them there and have them engraved with whatever is important to you: wedding dates, deaths, births, prayers, etc. Judging by the number of these, nearly ever Chinese person has been here at some point. That alone is a lot of positive intention.

One of the monks took a real liking to us and took dozen of pictures of us with our cameras. Actually I believe he took a fancy to Kailin, as did many of the other tourists. Traveling with her any where is a constant study in patience and appreciation. One young man chases us down many flights of stairs and when she finally stopped and let him take a picture with her his whole being lit up. She brings such joy to people just by smiling at them. I am doing my best to help her be at peace with this much attention, this is especially important if she wants a career in the world of acting.

We also had a great meal at Qiong Tai, the town the gondola leaves from. We didn’t speak enough Chinese to order, so they let us come to the kitchen and just point at what we wanted…perfect solution! This meal was much needed as our new cooks are only marginally better than the old ones. We are living on lots of white rice and not much else. I am sure the vegetables we get are good quality as they are local and the area is too poor to use chemicals in farming, but they make up for that by adding them later when they cook. They are using less MSG, which is good, but there is very little protein, no whole grains or beans and no good fats in our diet. Between training and the food we have both lost weight. I more than Kailin but I had more to lose. Plus I have been unable to resolve the heating problem in any way that will carry us through the winter here. This means we have been looking at other options. Thailand is high on the list.

I have been researching studying Thai Boxing and have found a place in Phukett that offers a variety of training: boxing, tri-athlete, and general fitness and they take girls. The hardcore places do not. Thai boxing is heavy on application of fighting and low on form, where Wudang is high on form and low on application so I am thinking they will complement each other and keep us warm in the winter. Anyway, this place has offered me a job setting up and teaching their new yoga program, plus they will allow Kailin to assist me even though she is only 14. We will get to room, food, training, local transportation in exchange for teaching. I have agreed to a one month trail. If we like it we will stay till the mountain warms back up. Oh yes…the best part: organic, 50+% raw, sprouted food and a juice bar! We have to get some real nutrition into us….our bodies will think they have gone to heaven.