We woke up in Shaolin to the beautiful mountains and to an amazing breakfast (the pumpkin surprise buns especially) in the hotel. First on the itinerary was visiting the second largest Kung Fu school in Luoyang! Luckily, it was only two minutes away from our hotel. As we arrived, the courtyard to the school was filled with students practicing Kung Fu, some so small they had to be barely seven and others at least almost college age! They all wore uniforms with red jackets and long black pants; only a few rolled them up, so we could only marvel at how they survived in the heat. Students weren’t the only thing, there also were MONKEYS in the courtyard. Our guide Joe explained that the students would try to watch the monkeys, see how they move, and then mimic that. I personally couldn’t believe that anyone could even come close to mimicking a monkey, but then we went to see the Kung Fu show…
War cries, whips cracking, and the sound of metal against metal barraged us as young boys in monk outfits leaped, flipped, and punched to dramatic music. Probably the most astounding thing was the boy who broke a piece of METAL with his hand– and then with his head! Or perhaps it was the seven year old boy who had been training since he was FOUR who could bend his legs behind his head and roll around with more flexibility than a Barbie doll. Either way, we all were completely amazed!
After the amazing show, we were brought up to a training room and were given the chance to learn some of the moves! Two of the most senior students were our teachers, and although the move set was a little “kung fu-sing” (excuse my pun) the teachers were patient with us and we all eventually knew the set well enough to compete against one another. To learn the moves, we had been split up into three lines, so for the competition each line performed for the other two without any of the teachers’ help! As a proud member of the esteemed Line One, I am happy to report that we took home the win!
We were all absolutely starving after such a work out, so for lunch we were taken to this AMAZING, completely vegetarian restaurant. What was astounding and also was the restaurant’s defining train was the amount of dishes that looked, smelled, and even vaguely tasted like meat, yet were 100% meat-free!
Now fueled up, we conquered the mountains. Our guide Joe took us to see the Shaolin temple where martial arts masters trained for centuries, and the pagoda forest which housed both old and new pagodas.
Then, we took a gondola ride up to Song mountain– which was perhaps the most beautiful thing we had seen on the trip. The mountains were absolutely breathtaking and unlike any other mountain range with its unique structure. We hiked leisurely through a winding path, admiring every sight and having fun with the incredible echoes!
After such an amazing and tiring day, we all headed back to the hotel for a relaxing dinner and then crashed back in our rooms, (slightly sad yet) ready to travel to Beijing the next morning. 🙂