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Week of October 4th: Starry Sunrise

This week has seen yoga become a regular thing. Simon and Christy are committed and others are giving serious consideration. It is good for me to have company, as I push more that way. Monday the three of us went up to the Red Army Shire, above Purple Heaven, to meditate as the Taoist drums called the sunrise, watch the sunrise and then do yoga. It was fantastic. The stars were so beautiful and clear on the way up that the next night Kailin and I walked up to an overlook with yoga mats and just lay there watching the stars for a good long while.

Stretching is also getting more serious in class. Master Guan, is now coming around and pushing on us. When he found out some of us were up early doing yoga, I think he took it as permission to get crazy in class. Not only with stretching, but we are now doing flying kicks! We continue Tai Chi 28. All this is happening in front of staring tourist wearing cowboy hats. A bit surrealistic!

I took KK along with me to see the blind masseuse this week. His wife worked on her and then he adjusted her. She was crazy sore the next day, but her neck felt much better and was moving completely again. I found out he has been blind since he was 16, some kind of an accident. He didn’t charge me for KK, but I paid him extra. He calls her baby! He says he can’t get the locals to bring their kids much. They aren’t willing to pay his HIGH fees! He was thrilled I trusted him to work on her. Not only did we get worked on by Master Du, but we also all went and got foot massaged downtown….I love foot massaged….a whole hour just on feet. All us girls lined up sipping tea and having our feet rubbed. Heaven!

I have started to test some of the people here. Just basic stuff, and have been able to find the Chinese Traditional Remedies downtown for them. It is cool to be able to find things I have been using for a long time here in the middle of the Chinese countryside. We are also expanding our culinary experience. Wednesday we ate at a noodle shop. They pull their own noodles right in front of you. Quite a show. Once again you need to ignore the hygiene, but the noodle soup is excellent. We also had a proper Chinese breakfast at Tian Lu Hotel, near us. Here is what is included: Bao zi, Bao men tao, Fried Bao (they are into Bao!), lotus cake, salted, hardboiled duck eggs, rice congi with various pickles, tea…weird, but good.

Thursday, our day off, a group of 8 of us hired a driver and went to see Wu Long Gong, a temple ruin that is in the process of being rebuilt. Many people had told us how great it is. They were right.  I ask Nico, who had been before, how hard it was to get to. How many steps? He said no steps, just a walk through the woods. He failed to mention that the woods are on the side of a near vertical hill! He also failed to mention that a road is being built up the mountain to it and that we would have to walk through the construction site.  At one point after we cleared the construction site and were on the hill, a guy at the site started yelling something over and over at us, but we couldn’t understand him. Finally he gave up and couple of minutes later…BOOM!  Down comes a chunk of mountain. Turns out he was saying: Fire in the Hole! Luckily we were far enough away. I think he just didn’t want to scare us.

When you arrive at the top of this hill and look down, the whole temple complex is before you and built on a little ledge of a huge valley. Even though it is a ruin, there is a Master Taoist and Master Kungfu teacher there and several nuns. The hills sides are terraced and they are growing all kinds of things, both food and medicinal, plus they are gathering all kinds of wild things. I watched a nun digging the roots of these beautiful flowers. She said they make a great tea for itching. Turns out she is the apprentice to the Master Herbalist at Purple Heaven Temple where we are. We have been trying to see him for weeks and she has now provided an in for us, as we carried herbs back to him from her. There are kungfu students here too, both foreign and Chinese. We got to look at their accommodations and eat with the family that cooks for them. Our school’s bedrooms look really good after seeing where they sleep, but they get way better food than us. Almost, everything they have comes from the mountain, and no MSG in anything. We had a great meal.

Wu Long Gong is the original location of Wu Long Si (5 Dragon Temple). It was built around 1500 year ago. This location is where Li Shi Ming, 2nd Emperor of the Tang Dynasty, prayed for rain. Legend says that 5 dragons emerged from the sky and brought rain, so the temple was erected here in honor and appreciation of this gift.

There are sacred caves near this temple and we went to a couple of them. It is rumored that the head Master Teacher from our school is doing his hermitage here, but we didn’t see him. It was incredibly still even with the construction going on. They have a huge pulley system set up for bring in building supplies. It was impressive. Thing is the stillness will not last. Soon the construction will be complete and tourist will be able to get here with ease. I am so glad we saw it now.

I should also mention how great our drivers were. They drove us, walk in with us, helping us up and down the hill. They helped arrange for us to eat, and they dropped us at all kinds of different places on the way back. Basically, they spent all day with us. All for 50Y/person ($7).

When we started training again on Friday, our class constellation again changed. The tourists have begun to leave, both from class and from the school in general, though it was still really noisy Friday and Saturday night. Plus all the teachers and several of the students that have been in Shanghai have returned. There was a big meeting in preparation for the upcoming Wudang Kungfu Festival that is happening starting the 16th in Shiyan. We are all going. Plus we have other foreigners showing up. A group from Latvia came yesterday: Two teachers, one with his wife and one of his students, a 12yrs old girl, who is very good with the fan. They are here to compete in the festival. Apparently, many more competitors are expected.

A group of 8 of us (KK, Christy, Cabrine, Mike, Simon, Daniel, Steve and me) are going to Xian before the festival to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. We have hired the same driver. It is a 5 hour drive. We are staying till the 15th, and are really looking forward to some proper western food while we are there. Kailin can hardly wait. She has been planning her outfits for 2 days….there is a real girl mixed in with dancer, artist, etc. We have Christy to thank for putting the whole trip together. She is even more organized than me, and speaks Mandarin well. I love her! This means my next post will probably be very long and won’t hit till 19th or so….Keep tuning in and enjoy!