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Week of September 13th: Comings and Goings

Packing up in England, leaving behind friends and family once again, traveling across the world, way different food and climate, whole new workout regime, whole new set of environmental factors finally caught up with us this week. I started in with a sore throat into a full blown cold on Monday and Kailin followed on Wednesday. We have been taking all the usual things, as I brought lots of herbs/supplements/homeopathic along. We will survive, but have been missing some practices and resting lots. The good news is our dehumidifiers arrived, so the mold growth is reducing even more, our beds and everything else are no longer constantly damp, and in general our rooms are much more comfortable. These are a must if you are staying here long. I am eternally grateful to Remy and all the gals at Asian Pro Source for making this possible.

I finally had to have a conversation with the kitchen. They put MSG in everything. I can take a bit, but on Wednesday my tongue swelled up, went numb, and I was very short of breath….so I am now having them cook for me separately by ordering off the menu each meal, i.e. not eating the buffet food. They said they know the MSG is bad, but it makes things taste better!!! Idiots! Supposedly these guys are award winning cooks…I would say award winningly BAD cooks. Kailin and I love Asian food, but the food here all taste the same, is monotonous, poor quality, and loaded with chemicals. Not only what comes in the food and cooking process, but they spray the kitchen and dining hall constantly for flies, with hardcore stuff. This seems to make little difference in the fly population. There back up plan is fly paper on top of fly nets that cover the food. It doesn’t occur to them that basic kitchen hygiene might help. Of course the heat makes everything worse and this week has been hot, hot, HOT!

We have been to a couple of  restaurants, as we must have real food occasionally, they also use MSG, but you just tell them,” bu yong wie jing”, and they don’t put it in, plus the food they cook is great quality and very tasty. I can’t speak for their kitchen sanitation, but at least things taste better. I worry about Kailin, as she continues to eat the buffet food some, but has not yet reacted to it. Many people come here for only a month or two. Those that come for longer, almost always get sick from the food at some point. Not sure what to do about this. Our school is a mecca of cleanliness compared to others I’ve seen. We could eat at the Taoist kitchen (all vegetarian) but it’s even less clean than the kitchen here, though the food quality is better. They cook with coal. Everyone spray for flies. I am supplementing our diets with fruit, cucumber, raw nuts and seeds, etc. Did I mention the Chinese don’t eat raw food at all! Only fruit. I think it is the herbs that keep them alive. We are also taking supplements and I am giving us homeopathics to detox chemicals regularly. It is a shame really, this land is so rich and the diet here was perfect in ancient times, but now ignorance has descended.

We finished snake and began crane this week. Both are good, but crane requires lots of bending, so our knees have had words with us about that. Crane was very quick; an on Saturday we finished then began tiger on Sunday.

I have had several long talks with Elizabeth this week. She is a wealth of information. I have downloaded many of her files onto my external hard drive. She has years of information that she has translated into English. I also went with her to Nan Yin to buy herbs from a woman she knows. That was a great experience. We were really lucky in that a Chi Gong master that she knows happened by. He speaks good English and was able to translate for us. It turns out he has a school that specialize just in Chi Gong and the inner alchemy associated with it, so once we finish the 5 elements we are currently learning we will go visit his school. Perhaps we will train there a couple of days a week for awhile. He is at the bottom of the mountain. I bought ginko and goji that grown on Wudang mountain, plus some really good wild honey.

Kailin had an interesting, and somewhat alarming experience in standing meditation this week. I was not there because I was sick. Mirell and Fernando came to her rescue. She described it as all her sense went funny and then away completely. She couldn’t feel herself. Then Mirell was there behind her supporting her and Fernando brought her to my room, which she barely remembers. She said it was light and she somewhere else. When I got to her, she complained of her head hurting and she was in tears. Everyone assured her that this kind of energy movement happens with this kind of practice, but most people wait a lifetime to experience it. I gave her acute rescue and had her rest. She was fine in an hour or so. It will be interesting to see where this goes. She assured me her knees were not locked, she was doing the breathing and it wasn’t like passing out.

We have had 2 new people arrive. Simon (Norwegian) has returned from traveling to Beijing. He looks like a Viking god, is very good at kungfu, and speaks mandarin. Mike (Australian) is here for 2 months to learn Chi Gong and is a beginner like us.

We have also had 2 people leave this week, Fernando and Elizabeth. As this was the case and the others that had just been looking at the school were also going a big group of us went up to the restaurant near us to celebrate. It was good fun and the food was great. It is served family style with a giant lazy-susan in the middle of a huge round table. A group of us also went downtown later in the week to go to the tailors, drop laundry, shop and we ate the five-star hotel there. It should be noted, that whatever the star rating is, you must take at least 2 stars off to get a real idea of what it will be like in China. That said the food was great. I should mention that there are a few things I brought to China that have proved really useful. The rolling bag Gary brought me back from his last trip and the headband/scarf gear Jackie gave us as a going away present. We live with these things daily. The head gear keeps you cooler no matter how hot it is….amazing really. The travel books David gave us are also really good and one of our main source of immediate area research.

Thursday I spent some of the morning taking photos of Fernando. He needed them for doing promotional things when he returns to Spain. He bequeathed Kailin and I with many things. He gave Kailin his telescoping tai chi sword and his mosquito net….She adores them both. The mosquito net is useful and has really made her room look special. He gave me a great picture of Quan Yin, one of his dojo’s uniforms, and lots of other leftovers. We will miss him and hope we will eventual get to Spain to visit him and meet his girlfriend. Fernando if you read this: I repaired the backpack. It is good as new, clean and here for whomever needs one, as is the extra suitcase.

Later on this day we went over to hang out with Elizabeth. She had a wonderful royal blue winter Tai Chi coat, which would not fit in her suitcase. She had asked if we would like it. It was perfect on Kailin, she looks like a princess in it. It looks like I will be needing one of these too, as we now know we will practicing outside all winter. Even though our winter coats are big, they are not big enough to practice flying kicks in or heavy enough to stand in mediation of 30-40 minutes. We will need to layer over them. When Elizabeth left on Sunday I inherited many more things: an herb pillow (which I love), calligraphy paper and ink, etc. It seems the practice of passing things on is the norm here. It is a wonderful practice. We are appreciating all the gifts this has brought us. We also learned from Elizabeth what has to happen for us to become Taoist. We are both considering it. There are travel and financial advantages, plus Taoism is as close as I get to practicing a religion. They are Universalist, believing in and promoting balance, respect and cooperation of all things. They also believe that ultimately the path to individual as well as universal peace and enlightenment lies within. We will miss Elizabeth, but she may be back before we leave, depending on the arrival of her first grandson. He son lives in Shanghai.

Sunday the heat broke, and the clouds descended. All the creatures came into our rooms in anticipation of rain. I had a storm of flies and mosquitoes, along with spiders, moths, katydid’s etc. I had one spider twice the size of a half dollar. I was tempted to leave him and see if he could help me with some of the other creatures, but in the end I opted to put him back outside. I sprayed with purification and thieves, which took care of most things, either killing them or encouraging them to leave. However in the end I had to resort to a fly swatter to sleep. Did I mention Kailin has the mosquito net! She is still sick and needs perfect sleep more than me. Hopefully this coming week will she us back on full form.