We arrived in DengFeng around lunchtime and it was so cold! Thank goodness for my new scarf I bought at the Silk Road markets back in Xi’an (25 yuan=$4AUD). Our guesthouse village stay was so wonderful! Smaller shared room of around 3 or 4 of us and a private bathroom. We also had 2 lunches, breakfast and dinner made for us at the restaurant and they were all amazing! So much food was always leftover we were so well fed! Once we had settled in and eaten our delicious lunch we headed to the Shaolin KungFu school. This small boarding school houses around 20 youths who come from underprivileged families or are orphaned. They get classical education in the village and in the early morning and evening do homework or train in Kung Fu. At the school we watched their KingFu show. In the show they showed us their routines with and without weapons. They also showed us the tricks they did with some of these items such as put a sharp blade to their throat and push without injury and 2 fingered hand stands and push ups! Ouch.
After the show we got an opportunity to do our very own KungFu training. We practiced a routine involving punches, blocks and kicks with a lot of squatting and bending. You have to be so flexible to do KungFu! Then we used weapons in the routine as well. All in all a lot of fun and laughs with very sore legs at the end!
The next day we woke up early to have breakfast and make our way to the famous Shaolin Temple. Shaolin Temple is at the base of Songshun Mountain. Towards the peak of this mountain we climbed many stairs to find Bohidharma, otherwise known as Dharma’s cave. Legend tells us Dharma is the one who began all KungFu and furthermore was the father of all martial arts styles including MMA, Muay Thai, karate etc. he was also the jest patriarch of Ch’an Buddhism in China. They say he climbed this mountain to the cave and meditated for 9 years. He exercised by watching the animals such as the monkey, praymantis and tiger. He copied their movements and used them in what became known as KungFu.
At the peak of this mountain there is a monument built to honour Dharma and he watches over Shaolin with his lidless eyes. Once you have conquered the many, many stairs to reach the peak you can explore and take some great pictures.
After we got to sit and watch the KungFu show inside the theatre which was a welcome refuge from the cold. These kids are so disciplined in their KungFu they are very impressive. The hostess asked if anyone wanted to volunteer and 2 of our group members got to go up and have a go at copying the movements of their KungFu. Noreena even won a CD for her efforts!
DengFeng and the Shaolin district has been absolutely beautiful to stay in. I’ve learnt so much about the history of China’s culture and religion here. Next stop China’s bustling capital city; Beijing!
Sam and Kirsten X