Thursday, 5 December 2013

Shaolin or How Bodhidharma Watched over my Sleep

     
  So the bus dropped me on one of the most popular tourist destinations on Earth. How I got there is a different story....To be honest, I did not have high expectations but I was about to be astonished for a thousandth time.


Pagoda Forest Shaolin Temple.
This is a photo of a (or part of a) Major National Historical and Cultural Site in China

The monastery

      First, your eyes will inevitably focus on the Buddhist art engraved on the walls, showing the original movements later on called Kung Fu (Gong Fu in Mandarin).
       Crowds of foreign tourists were flocking to see the acrobat performance in one of the halls with the usual, “We have paid to see this”.  Hmm, some people believe that with 100 Yuans they can buy the whole place. .. Anyway, the spectators were awarded with some really impressive jumps and complicated Wu Shu forms. As a connoisseur of this culture (self- proclaimed) I knew those monks’ real abilities and skills were hidden from the public.

Geological Park

      Passing by the Pagoda Forest, I headed towards the National Geological Park. Most of the people use lifts in these cases. Not me, I  always go against the grain. The only disadvantage of the day ticket is that you are in a hurry to cover all the three main spots of interest. If you have enough time, you can visit the Three Emperors Fort. It is perched on a cliff and the view from up there is magnificent. Don’t forget to buy a map of the region; you are going to use your legs, aren’t you?

Dharma Cave

        I was in good shape and I decided to try to reach the cave and sleep somewhere uphill.  I climbed up the stairs with sweat coming from every pore of my body. Imagine that the martial arts students there do the same thing every day around 6 in the morning. Oh, and I forgot to mention that they are actually RUNNING the stairs.  I have read stories that they are even climbing using both hands and legs but I cannot confirm that.
        The cave itself is not big in size; however, it has had a great impact on the country and its culture. Just think about China without screaming martial arts actors! Impossible. Boddhidharma, the mythical monk who brought to China the martial arts, also introduced the Chan Buddhism.  The statue the Chinese have built in his honour ,does not mix with the surroundings, in my view.
       Luckily for me, on the top I reached a small shelter. This meant I am saved for the night from rain. Nothing can be compared to the moment when you see how the sparkling lights below are turned on one by one. Somewhere, far away....   

You can obtain a tourist map of the region (Songshan mountain) and transportation guide here:



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