Looking for Masters of Kung-Fu in Shaolin

The trip for the masters of Kung-Fu started with adventurous night when we were getting to the area of Shaolin Temple. The bus going from Luoyangu dropped us somewhere in the middle of road and left. It was already dark when we were looking around trying to find someone who would help us to find a way to Shaolin Hostel. Fortunately the taxi drivers were always present so we went to ask them. We found out that that there were no more buses at that late hour. Our hostel was still about 20 km far and  we didn’t have other option than to take a ride with one of the taxi drivers.

At the place we found out that Shaolin Temple is not only one building but extensive complex of temples, martial art schools, forests and places to exercise. The taxi driver left us by the entrance gate and we had to continue further by foot. After 15 min of walking we met a big group of students finishing their last exercise of the day. We were observing them for a while until two monks joined us. “Where are you going at this time of the night?” they were asking us with apparent interest. They were very friendly and they wanted to show us how to get to our hostel. They even insisted on helping us with our heavy backpacks. But maybe they were regretting after a while as we saw their sweaty shirts and foreheads. We were going through really dark forest where we could finally try out our new headlights! Before the last hill we rather took back all our stuff, said thank you to the monks and continued alone. Even though it was quite cold we were sweating too when we finally found our hostel.

A very kind receptionist was waiting for us in the hostel close to the temple. She was very surprised that we managed to find the way during night. She explained us how the temple works and she promised that she takes us for a tour inside of the temple before opening of the main entrance. She also proposed that she introduces us to one of her monk friends and we would be able to exercise some Kung-Fu with him. She prepared traditional kimono for us for next morning and we went to our beds completely exhausted.

In the morning we found an unwelcomed guest on one of our backpacks “oh noo what kind of insect is this!?!” shouted Karel and was trying to shake off this disgusting insect down from the backpack. But it had many legs and was holding very strong. “We have to push it down with something!” Karel took a towel. Edita was observing everything from the opposite side of the room and was encouraging Karel in fight with horrible monster. “Are you OK?” the Chinese receptionist came up to have a look what was happening. She picked up the towel with the insect. It was still alive and was trying to get out of the towel. “Aaaaaa!” we were screaming all together. The Chinese girl threw the towel back on the floor and called her cat that finally ate the insect J “I really hate insect!” She was repeating. “We thought you eat it for breakfast” we were joking. We put our kimonos on and went to the forest to meet the martial arts teacher.

The training started really seriously shortly after 7 am with warm up and running. After that the teacher was showing us basic Kung-Fu postures and kicks. Even though the monk wasn’t very slim he was very fast and his kicks were very strong. We were repeating after him with high interest. He was emphasizing correct breathing with every movement and he was explaining where and how are these postures useful in the real fight.

After the exercise it started to rain and so we were heading quickly to the Shaolin Temple before the main gate opens and hundreds of tourists arrive. The legends and curiosities which the Chinese girl was showing us were really incredible. For example in the temple’s floor there were big holes formed by the monks stomping while exercising. Another interesting thing were the holes in the trees from the monks hitting the trees with their fingers. “Is this even possible?” We were asking ourselves and we were putting our fingers into the holes. Some of them were very deep.

The temple is situated between beautiful mountains and so after the visit we went for a walk to the forest. We took a small cable car to the top from where we started a hike. Unfortunately the weather was getting worse and it started to rain heavily. We climbed up to the top of one of the mountain but the views were not very nice in that weather. We could barely see a few meters in front of us due to dense fog and rain. After a couple of hours we were soaked and we had to go back to our hostel. In the hostel we could at least practice calligraphy. With a special brush we were going over the shapes printed on the paper. It was hard to understand how someone can learn this system of writing!

The rain didn’t stop and we couldn’t see any more Kung-fu exercises. We were told that the weather was very bad in this area lately and so we were happy to continue in our journey. Our next destination is Beijing, the capital of People’s Republic of China!


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