It was all a bit last minute, but I booked a trip to China at the end of April and flew off mid May. We had a big martial arts events up in Doncaster to prepare for and then once that was done I pretty much packed my bags and jumped on the plane for a bit of Shaolin Temple training.
The main purpose of the trip was to buy new Chinese martial arts stock for the shop. The last order we did has almost completely gone and we’re in desperate need for new products. Saying that while I was there, I could get some other things done too.
As I was travelling into Shanghai I could meet up with friends, which was lovely and very strange being on the other side of the world be feeling very much at home. I popped to the pub Friday night and met up with the usual bunch, stayed with friends and spent the weekend hanging out.
As I was in Shanghai I had a few requests for some Feiyue Shoes, so I hopped over to the Feiyue Factory shop and got some of the more unusual types of Feiyue on offer. The orders for these were still coming in while I was in the shop.
They didn’t have everything I wanted to get but I got a fair few of the orders, packed them and sent them back to myself via the Chinese Postal Service. So they should be in the UK about mid June at the latest.
After the crazy bustle of Shanghai, I hoped on a short 15 hour train to arrive in Zhengzhou to hop on a 2 hour bus to Shaolin. There must be an easier way to buy stock for the shop.
I got settled in the hotel and decided to take the rest of the day off. I skyped the family and went for a walk around the Shaolin area. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out, pollution low and hardly any mosquitos, lovely. Shaolin is a lovely place, as soon as you are off the main tourist road, that likes an artery up the middle of the area, you can enjoy the place in relative peace.
I took some tracks I’ve never been up and just allowed them to take me around. I found some old looking Mei Hua Poles (Plum Blossom Poles), walked through the wheat fields and woods and settled down after Shanghai.
The next few days was all about buying stock for the shop and lots of it. Everything comes in a bout 5 different ‘qualities’ so you have to be careful with what you’re buying. What should take a short while always seems to take all day. It was exciting ordering all the new stock, knowing the shop will be fully stocked again and especially the new items that we haven’t had in before. I talked the boss into taking me to his warehouse so I could see all the ‘qualities’ myself, to make sure everything was as it should be. That was the next day so the week was quickly disappearing. All sorted, all shipped and hopefully in the UK about summer time.
On the evenings I spent some of the time practicing my forms on one of the Shaolin temple training platforms and stretching out. I didn’t sort out any lessons for this visit which probably worked out in the end. I soon noticed with all the extra walking, and evening practice how unfit I currently am. Back surgery slows you down and I haven’t yet got back up to speed yet, so the lack of lessons means I could go at a pace I could cope with. Much welcome. Next year I come back and get properly into the shaolin temple training, although I think it’ll always be at a slower pace form now on. Doctor’s orders (and everyone that knows me)
Pack up and off to meet my buddy from Shanghai in Huashan, Google it if you haven’t heard of it but it got famous recently with two crazy Russians putting up a youtube video of themselves “walking the plank”. I wanted to walk the plank too and the rest of the mountain.
Huashan is one of the five Taoist mountains in China, all representing the body of a Taoist Deity. Huashan is the feet and consists of five peaks.
We started pretty early and spent the day hiking up from the bottom, avoiding the wimpy gondola ride up, and looking around the first few peaks, we then stayed up the mountain in one of the many basic (very basic) dormitories.
Huashan is a beautiful place and you can see why the Taoists liked it. The second day involved walking the rest of the peaks and ‘walking the plank’ with a thousand other people. Then we took a wrong turn and ending up hiking all the way back down on a different path.
Legs knackered, back pretty good, we finished off the trip with a big meal in a restaurant and caught the sleeper train back to Shanghai for a final rush to catch the plane.
All in all a good trip, not a huge amount of martial arts, but a bit of training and exploring a new place in China, catching up with friend was lovely and hopefully I’ll be back soon.