Songshan and Shaolin temple, Henan

After Wudang Shan, I went to go get on the train to go to Luoyang. I got on the train with no problems. I made it to Luoyang and the heartland international hostel was perfect. Shaolin temple was a two hour bus trip and I decided to go the next day for three days. I should have simply taken the bus directly from the train station which is adjacent to the bus station. I thought I would go to Luoyang grottos or do something, but with costs these days and budgets I decided to simply stay in the hostel. I got a bus ticket to Dengfeng where the next hostel would be at. I arrived to the hostel and ate lunch at a noodle restaurant next door. I took the bus to the Zhongyue temple, which is one of the earliest Daoist temples. I toured the entire complex and stayed for the ceremony in the evening. Afterwards, I visited the temples across the street which were little old ladies houses and properties that they unlocked to show a deity of Wangmu Niang Niang with a big pot of tang, and some other lady deities. Then I went behind the Zhongyue temple where there were numerous other temples like the Long wang temple, and a few other small neighboring temples. Then there were nice nature hikes behind the temple, and a pavilion up on the hill, which I hiked up to and found a monk stringing the beads for the hat for Zhongyue. He was strict with me about not taking photos, but they all say that and so I record video in secret. I looked around and then sat down and chatted with him for a few moments about school and what I was doing with my life. He seemed to take good care of the temple. I hiked back down and got on the bus. 15 minutes into the bus ride it started torrential rainfall for several minutes. I got off the bus just as it ended and went back to the hostel, satisfied with my half day of exploration.

 I decided the next day to visit Shaolin Monestary. There was a group from the hostel who were all going together so there was a car ready for us. We got dropped off in the back part of the complex and hiked in for 5 hours to get to the temple. I stayed with the group for a while, and then left the group to walk on my own, at times meeting up with them. I managed to go a lot faster than them by 15 minutes, and saw them at lunch. One of the older Chinese guys was fun to talk to in Chinese about various things in life.  I enjoyed his company, and he was slightly annoying. I can’t seem to find Chinese men attractive at all. Most of them I could never imagine being in a relationship with. I don’t understand how so many American men can date Chinese women. I have no interest in the Chinese men I meet either physically or socially. I never feel like I’m going to meet someone here and the environment is really polluted and toxic. The scenery is spectacular on the trail here in this moment, but it is cloudy, and I know there’s a lot of ambient pollution in the air. I walk alone down the trail past the men making the new railing for the side. They are soldering some of the rods together to build the railing piling concrete. It seems like a horror movie trying to run through the construction site with the sparks flying everywhere, and it happened to be in the darker part of the mountain where the stream was. If I was a young child, I would have been scared to death to cross the site as it seemed dangerous with no care for the pedestrians or the workers. There are amazing geological formations and cliffs in the area. It was so fascinating to see and the fog had receded enough to see the view of the landscape. The temples on the outcroppings and all of the spectacular rock formations. I’m still amazed by what I saw there. It is truly incredible. After several hours of hiking there was finally the pagoda forest, and then the shaolin temple. I toured the temple and then joined in the ceremony for the evening full moon ceremony. The monks were wearing bright orange robes and on the full moon, the hall is filed with monks, so there are not only the 5 people chatting as usual, but more like 20 or so chanting. The abbot let me into the hall, and I was the only one participating who was not part of the temple. I was let in beyond the barriers for the tourists. I stayed there chanting with the monks for 20 minutes. It was incredible to be in the temple with them standing there. I did manage to make a small video. I was the only female and the only foreigner in the hall. As I was leaving the temple I joked with some monks about becoming the first foreign lady to join the temple, after they told me that females were not allowed to join and the complex was only for males I had to tease a bit. Then I told them I was joking and not even interested. I think it would be too physically demanding because of how they train their bones it can be very traumatic. I’ve seen so many shaolin performances since having come to China and they are mostly young guys with incredible ability trained since they were young. Many of the monks I talked to were my age, and had come to the temple only a few years before, so many of them do live there to train later in life as well. It seems like those who really want to live there can live there and train if they like to work that way and live a humble life of a monk. After I left the temple, I came to the training grounds for the young boys. There were three boxing rings setup and then hundreds of young boys wearing read uniforms sitting in chairs or bleachers. There were fights going on and everyone was watching. The fighting seemed really unprofessional, with a lot of dirty moves that I couldn’t even stand to watch, so I left and walked out. I got a shuttle bus back into town, and then the bus back to the hostel before dark. 

 

 

 

 

The next day I went to the Taichishan part of the mountain which was across from the hostel. I thought I was going to Confucius’s old academy, but had taken a wrong turn and wound up going up the mountain immediately skipping the academy. It was a long walk in and I finally reached a couple of Taoist temples run by a few old ladies. I got to the ticket office and paid 50 kuai to get into the main part of the mountain. The first temple complex was for Laomu cave, in which there were several incredible deities. The ladies in the temple wanted to know why Americans hated China and we immediately got into a heated conversation. They let me look around at the temple caves. There were people outside burning huge offerings in the urns. This temple seemed very active, with many people and paraphraneilia. I told the ladies Americans liked the Chinese, but they had to defend the islands that belonged to other countries like the Philippines. I said that most Americans felt good about Chinese people in general. Then they gave me a huge bag of fruit and snacks. I was confused why they gave me so much fruit and snacks to eat when I had to hike up the mountain. They told me it was an apple for peace, which pingguo for pingan sound the same in Chinese. So it was sweet for them to offer me so many things. I started to walk up to the next temple feeling quite weighed down by the snacks. I got to the temple upstairs with a huge temple for Laozi. The monk was very nice to me and when it started pouring down rain we got to chatting. I couldn’t always understand what he was saying. He gave me a dragon fruit and I ate it. He saw I had a huge bag of snacks. I have no idea why he gave me the fruit after I told him about the snacks. I thought it was funny. The rain poured for a while and he tried to talk me out of hiking the mountain, but I went anyway. I’m happy it was raining because it is so much cooler and nicer to enjoy the weather that way. Hiking up the mountain there were many other Taoist temples, and one in particular that sat on a waterfall. After several hours of hiking I made it to the 1400 ft summit. It was completely overcast. I met up with the same guy I had met the day before and he followed me around like a puppy again. Eventually we split ways when we had found the trail. I ended up following the advice of two girls who said they were going down the mountain. Apparently they were wrong, and we ended up at a cave. The water started pouring so badly that I stayed in the temple with a few ladies and we talked for a long time about university life in the US where their friends kids were at. We talked for nearly a half an hour about the schools and about my life, simple questions usually, always the same kind of stuff. They are always curious about me when they realize I can speak Chinese. After the rain the clouds had broken and I could see the view. It was an incredible view of the cityscape of Dengfeng below. I hurried down the mountain as fast as possible because of the rain, and taking a few photos of the now visible landscape. I met up with my friend who invited me to dinner that night. We spent a few hours getting off the mountain crossing the ferocious rivers. We went to hotpot. He got a bottle of wine. We went to get foot massage. I fell asleep. He tried to forcibly kiss me and I pushed him away. It’s terrible how men act when they are pushy and have no manners. Men need to learn how to get consent or at least ask. Awful manners. I was in a bad mood after that. I fell asleep at the hostel.

 

Last modified onMonday, 21 September 2020 02:25
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