14.10.2012 - 15.10.2012
We had a day of travelling from Ti'an to Zhengzhou with most of our time on an 8 hour train ride. In the morning the haze had cleared enough for us to see the mountain in Ti'an that people come to climb.
It takes 6 hours to climb to the summit but each year they have a race and the fastest person reached the top in 59 minutes!
We'd stocked up on snacks, managed to find our seats on the train and settled into the trip.
We past the time playing cards, much to the locals fascination as they tried to work out what games we were playing sitting at very close quarters to get a good look, personal space seems to be an unknown context. The train soon became rammed with people, kids, sacks and bags of all shapes and sizes and each station they somehow managed to cram more on. Luckily we had reserved seats although Dan was sat opposite a kid who coughed in his face for the whole journey!
The next morning we went to the Shaolin Temple, the home of Kung Fu, where we would get to see the pros in action as well as take a 4 hour Kung Fu lesson ourselves!
We arrived early enough to see the training sessions taking place which was an impressive sight. What seemed like 100s of boys/men in formation practicing different skills and techniques were around every corner and you could hear their cries and shouts and the resounding stamp of their feet as they carried out their moves in unison.
They start their training from as young as 3 years old to build up their flexibility and strength and it was incredible to see them doing back flips and splits on the stone floor of the training ground.
We were also amazed by the show that was put on by the Shaolin monks, after we battled the crowds to get our seats first!
The Shaolin Temple itself had several unique features compared to the other temples we had visited. One impressive one was a tree which had been used by the monks to practice their Kung Fu moves. The holes in the tree had been made by their fingers as they struck it over time!
At one point practising Kung Fu outside was banned by the Emperor and so the monks were forced to practice inside and dips have formed where they repeated their moves on the same spot each day.
Pagodas of the monks were also in the grounds and could have up to 7 levels depending on how many followers they had and the wisdom that they had imparted. One of them was of a modern monk and his pagoda had symbols of a car and computer on the side!
It was now our turn to try to learn some Kung Fu!!!