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Riley's China Adventure

Louyang and Shao Lin

Monday, August 10, 2009

This morning I woke up on a train that was taking us from Beijing to the central part of China, specifically the city of Louyang. After arring in Louyang we freshened up and went to Longmen or Dragon Gate Grotto. There we saw thousands of Buddha statues carved into the limestone rock of the mountain. The tallest one we saw was a massive carving 17 meters high. It was awe inspiring.

We then got back on the bus and drove to the nearby town of Dengfeng, the birthplace of kung fu and our home for the next few days. After a quick rest we went to visit the one and only Shao Lin temple world famous for its kung fu and a place we will spend some time at the next few days. We went into the part of the temple reserved for meditation and got an insightful lesson on Shao Lin temple amd its effect on Buddhism from the temple's supervisor.

We then got a very different kung fu experience when we went to visit a nearby martial arts academy. There were literally thousands of students dressed alike outside practicing their moves in perfect synchronization. This was both impressive and intimidating. We got an even closer look with some of the more advanced students and what they were able to do was fascinating. They were so quick and agile it seemed almost superhuman. They would flip and kick and punch so quickly and precisely it seemed nearly robotic. We then witnessed a kid about 10 years old do head flips across the room and I think that kid could beat me up any day.

At dinner the girls kicked the boys out of the students table so us guys ate with the Chinese guides. It ws great to have some more time to talk with them one on one. Especially Ping who told us about her time working during the cultural revolution. She was a miner at age 15 and only learned English after Chinese policied were more relaxed. She taught herself English and encouraged all us boys to learn Chinese because if she could teach herself English than we could learn Chinese easily. I don't know if it would be that easy, but I definitely want to continue learnin Chinese.

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Harv said...

Amazing! You see that kung fu on TV but it must be awe inspiring in person. I always wanted to spend the night in the sleeper car of a train. I hope it was cool. Have fun at your final destination. - megan

Changing Connections said...

Great cultural immersion, indeed; you are thinking and writing in the language of meters. Nice touch. Is Shao Lin the name of the temple, a place name, or a form of religion/culture? Interesting what you take for granted when you are immersed in the moment, in situ, crossing cultural boundaries.

Your description of the speed of kung fu as robotic--wonderful image--one that will stay with me.

You begin to understand the Chinese mindset when the fifteen-year-old taught herself English and doesn't understand why Americans cannot learn Chinese. Very interesting.

RJ Stangherlin
PA DEN Leadership Council Blog Coordinator

Karen Wells said...

You are at that part of the trip where you know that the learning must never stop. Your generation must continue to experience different cultures and begin to build a bridge across them. I have great faith that you can. Global connections are so important. Karen Wells DSA South Africa

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Essential Programs Details

Duration 15 days
When August 4th - 18th, 2009
Focus History/Culture
Martial Arts
Modern/Ancient Architecture