Captain’s log 9

Captain’s log: Stardate – 23.10.05
> There are two types of travel on trains here, hard seats and soft
> seats. So far we have travelled the hard seat route and I have
> loved it. You are surrounded by Chinese people all talking to each
> other and sharing food and snacks with you. Today we opted for the
> soft seats, and now we know where all the white people went. The
> soft seats are painted in cream colours and have plastic flowers
> following the fluorescent strip lighting along the ceiling. This is
> opposed to the green hard seat section that are not carpeted and
> certainly do not sport flowers. This soft seat section of the train
> is packet with tourists,the 4 star hotel type tourists, large
> parties of 12 or more Germans and Spaniards in particular and not a
> backpack in sight.
> Dotted around are a few richer Chinese people upon whom the carriage
> conductors concentrate all their efforts, leaving the tourists to
> fend for themselves. I am sitting in the rich Chinese section and
> as I look down the carriage, I certainly do not identify with the
> loud, fat, bloated, 4 star hotel users that are gaining a very
> different, and I would like to think less fulfilling, experience of
> China.
> Captain’s log: Stardate – 25.10.05
> Luoyang is a sprawling town with a fair mixture of wealthy and
> poorer parts. There is a night market next to our hotel which
> serves everything from a full four-course meal, to dog, quite literally,
> as they had the roasted head on display. The town feels more real
> that that of Xi’an, more of a town for all people.
> Yesterday we went to the Shaolin temple. We caught a tour bus into
> the Shaolin mountains via a number of minor museums and places of
> relative interest, to get there for 13.00.
> The Shaolin complex is a working school, which manages to blend its
> practical application as a martial arts school, with its role as one
> of China’s main tourist attractions. Despite the tourists, the
> temple itself still maintains an air of majesty, mystique, and
> legend. I stood and watched thousands of young men and women being
> put through their exercises in what looked like a sea of red
> tracksuits that stretched out into the distance. They were trained
> in blocks of about 30 students, each in 3 or 4 rows. Each block
> practiced a different aspect of Wushu be it kicks, punches, flying
> kicks, shafts, swords, numchuckers, pad work, spinning kicks etc,
> each move carried out with a precision, speed and energy that left
> me astounded. And these were only the students. For our entrance
> fee we also got a 30 minute demonstration, where the more
> experienced students put on a show similar to that which they take
> on tour all over the world.
> In the ‘Lonely Planet’ it was said that the public could do a
> training course at Shaolin, and I had arranged our trip so that I
> could spend at least 1 day training with the Shaolin. I asked
> everyone that looked as if they would understand me where I could
> enlist, until finally I found a path that led up to the Wushu
> hostel, past hundreds of training Shaolin. I got there to find it
> completely gutted and in the midst of renovation. There was a
> policeman on site and he told me that only full students (proper
> term students) were here now and that the hostel will be available
> for temporary students next season. The hostel was gutted but not
> as much as I. There are other schools up in the mountains, but it
> is like saying you live in London when you really live in Watford,
> it is not the same, and anyone who is interested will know that
> too. I aim to go back and explore the compound again tomorrow.
> Today was Mairead’s birthday so we went to the Longmen caves and
> spent a very relaxing day admiring the design handywork of the
> Buddhists of the Tang Dynasty along the Yi river.
> Dinner was interesting, we got talking to a very angry South Korean
> who talked about redressing the balance in the world’s wealth. He
> claimed to be a janitor on his way to Nepal to do VSO work, yet he
> spoke 5 languages, as we as being well versed in world economics
> and European politics, and asking a series of leading
> questions…for a janitor.


~ by jeditopcat on 8 November, 2008.

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