Day 11 - Monday June 9, 2008

We're so thankful we had Chunhong to order food for us - except breakfasts at the hotels - pretty well every day of our two weeks in Zhumadian (and the visits to Kaifeng, LaoYang and ShaoLin)

Gua Gua brought us extra joy and laughter for the weekend.

Michael at the restaurant the night before Shaolin.

Some famous food the restaurant was known for - although it looked pretty, Chunhong was not impressed - the flower on top was made of flour and the meat was balogna-like, didn't see veggies.

Larger than life sculpture at Shaolin Temple.

So our next visit was the Shaolin Temple - an ancient place of worship - now it seems, the highly touristy place where Kung Fu is taught and performed.

There were 1000s of students of different ages, all in the same dress, having lessons outside in in many different open areas as we walked along the designated paths. There were a lot of trees, a lot of steps and a lot of temples and old buildings. It looked like a glorified camp for boys. I was told that the boys come here at a young age and live on the compound as they are being trained. I suppose they go home for breaks now and again - I hope anyway. It would be a good place to send your kid if you want him disciplined and in shape.

We watched a performance - of all ages and it was very impressive, very much like gymnastics. The last 2 performances were: 1. a man in his 20s or 30s took a bar of cast aluminum I think it was, or maybe it was a harder metal, don’t know... but he hit his head with it and it broke into pieces. 2. Another man, perhaps at least in his 30s or maybe 40s spent some time gathering his chee and attempted to throw a needle right through a plate of glass being held by another guy. Yet another fellow was holding a ballon behind the glass so we would know the needle had gotten through. He made 5 or 6 attempts but couldn’t do it --- I noticed he was distracted when he first came out because he glanced up toward the exit where there were a few people standing (including a young woman). He glanced there 2 or 3 times during his performance and that’s why I suspect he was distracted. Anyway a second man came out after him and on his second attempt, he managed to throw the needle through the plate glass and break the balloon. They walked around the arena showing us the glass and yes, it had a small hole in it about 1/8" or so in diameter.

After that performance we came out of the arena and noticed Chunhong was on the phone. She was talking with her husband because she had just lost her camera. (oh no! so sad...)

She bravely continued the journey with us. Next we walked to where the temples and many other buildings were - all on hill sides, all with many steps (what else would I expect from China?)

Walking along the path there were lots of walls - I don't know how old this wall was, but they wanted to allow the tree to do it's thing, so they built around it, or it broke through on it's own.

The major temple complex was built into the mountain side - it was really cool looking because it was surrounded by trees. It's like you were living in the woods - like, camping!

Apparently this mountain across the valley is also part of the whole complex, and there's a chair lift that allows you to go up and experience the view. We didn't go - too much walking for a 3 year old (whew, that was a good excuse!)

Stair - with a very ornately carved centre panel.

Every time you look up, you see how ornately coloured parts of the buildings were.

Then we walked farther up...

Someone told me later that these were tombstones...

A beautiful place to live if it weren't for the smog.

Well, we hurried back to the van because we needed to be at the airport for 2pm to pick up Frank (the Canadian who has lived in Shanghai for 6 years with his Chinese wife and 2 kids now).

On the way to the car, I had to go to the WC and as I came back Gua Gua had her hands on her hips, with a furrowed brow and was talking very loudly to me as though she was scolding me. Her mother translated it for me, “Where were you all this time? Didn’t you know I was looking for you? I was calling you... don’t you have ears on your head?”

So we drove about 1.5 hours to the airport, picked up Frank and drove the 2 hours back to Zhumadian. Dropped Frank off at his apartment and went to yet another restaurant. (Other than the restaurant at the hotel, we haven’t been to the same place twice, to eat.) This place was not expecting anyone because it was late afternoon, so they showed us up to a room and we ate there. Delicious food.
Then back to the hotel for a quiet evening. I hadn’t had a bm since Friday morning so I made myself some tea for the evening and hoped for a bm in the morning ... I was not disappointed.

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