Chinese is a very harsh sounding language to my western ears. A simple example is when we were walking up the mountain, an old Chinese man was on the back of a motor cycle and was shouting something at us as he passed. Then he was dropped off by his friend and waited for us, still shouting something and sounding quite angry. We were all a bit taken aback and not really sure what to do, it looked like an open and public road so we couldn’t be trespassing. Fortunately we had one of the translators with us. It turned out that this old guy was telling us about a short-cut off the road if we were walking. Without the translator we wouldn’t have had any idea that he was being nice to us.
Strange strange country
In the UK it’s generally excepted that the line in the middle of the road is a separator. It keeps cars, busses and bikes that are going in opposite directions from crashing.
In rural China the line in the middle of the road is more of a guide that is used to tell you where to drive (assuming there is a line). When there is a blind corner, just use your horn. Simple.
This makes any kind of taxi or bus ride an excercise in mental strength as much as a means of transport. I don’t even want to get started on the roads in towns thats just a hellstorm of chaos.
Last Sunday we decided to climb the nearby mountain. Simple, easy. Or not. I’m still not quite back to being at 100% fitness. Although this is mainly because I injured my foot. I’m not entirely sure how, it’s the tendon (or ligament) that connects to my big toe. I’m not even sure how I hurt it – the best explination I have is that my shoe was too tight. It was a good long walk. There has been a lot of speculation about how far it actually was. Estimate are: 13 miles up (making a 26 mile round trip) 44 km round trip (27.5 miles) or nine hours of walking at an average speed of roughly 4 miles an hour (36 miles). Any way you look at it, it was a damn long walk!
The most exciting moment would be a toss up between just getting back in time for dinner and being charged by a scared cow (picture to follow). I think either way it was a bonding experience for us all.
Shopping for food in China is an interesting experience. When looking at a foodstuff, bread for example your mind calls up a mental preconception of what it’s going to taste like. Based on this you then decide if you’re going to buy it.
The only trouble with this is that here in China the idea of what the food will taste like is usually completely wrong.
We end up with squidgy dough when we’re expecting hard sweets strange beans when we’re expecting chocolate ice-cream and all manner of other wrong tasting foods. It certainly makes things an interesting experience!
When I first arrived I thought that I was getting some pretty damn good training. I’m being taught by a 3rd level diciple of Sun style Tai Chi, Bagua and something else (I’ll edit if I remember). There are only five 3rd level masters in the world as the guy that invented Sun style only taught his daughter, and his daughter taught five people, one of which was Dung, who is my master. This is the story anyway, not to sure if it’s all true. So I’m getting some damn good training.
Then at the beginning of this week we got a new translator, who is much much better than the last one. Now Dung is able to tell us a completely new level of detail about the history, theory and philosophy behind the Sun style and Tao in general. Which is fascinating and awesome. The moment he started getting into these details I thought ‘Three months is never going to be enough!’
Now yesterday he told us that he’s going to be much more strict about the moves, which kicks everything up a gear again. I’m liking it though, it forces me to try and rise to the challenge and put my best in. It’s all pretty kickass.
Rumour also has it that Sun style is what Jet Li uses, but I really want to check that out before I start banding it about as fact.
I’ve now got a Skype account, as the Academy computer has Skype on it, if you want my ID or whatever you need to add me to your list then drop me an email (I don’t really want to stick it on the interweb for all to see)
Rural China is not a place to come to if you’re in any way scared of insects. Every type of bug you can think of has been super-sized. Moths and butterfly’s that are the size of birds, bugs that are the size of your thumb bug somehow generate some kind of mating call that is deafening!
Generally lots of scary things, especially for a city boy like myself.
On the other hand the situation and the views pretty much make up for it: Read the rest of this entry »
There was a thunder storm on Sunday evening, it was damn impressive but unfortuantely it took out the internet connection. I think a surge destroyed the modems. Anyway there is only one computer that works on the internet now and it’s in quite a lot of demand.
I’ll post some more soon, probably at the weekend as we go into the local town and there’s a cheap internet cafe there.
My hangover this morning shows that my plan of completely health living for three months didn’t quite work. Things were going well until a bottle of tequila got handed round. This is always a bad thing for a night of drinking…
On the plus side my feet are better, which means I should be able to go running again next week.
I’ll be giving more updates when I feel better.
Well, I’m nearing the end of my first week and it feels pretty crazy. I need to try and get some pics up so you can get an idea of how beautiful this location is! One perfect moment I had was on Wednesday, I was just getting back from the morning run, wind chimes by the kitchen were tinging away and in the background as I walked towards our accomodation the nearby mountain had it’s top wreathed in cloud.
As for the lessons they are going very well. I’ve been told my animal form which is swallow. Apparently the Swallow is the most flexible of the birds and the form specific to my animal will be good for my health. Taking fire to my heart and water to my kidneys. Or something like that. I won’t get to learn it for a while I suspect. At the moment I’m going Qu Gong three times a day, once in the morning after the run (which I didn’t go on today) and once before each training session. I’m also learning bagua which is a circular internal form in the morning and I’m learning an internal staff form in the afternoons which I should finish tomorrow.
I should explain that I’m on the internal course which means tai chi, bagua, and Qu Gong. The other options are external and white crane. External is all about building up external muscles and power and white crane looks a bit weird to me but the people doing it sware by it… each to their own I guess. The internal matial arts are all about deflecting energy, defending and counter-attacking. It’s very cool This does mean however that the idea of me coming out of my three months looking like some kind of greek statue in stature are less likely.
Unfortunately I’ve got sunburn on my feet. Completely stupid mistake on my part, I put on my sun cream, walked up to the training area (I really want to get a picture up of this area soon, it’s fantastic) then took off my shoes and started training.
Hopefully my feet will be healed up enough by tomorrow for me to wear shoes as we’re all supposed to be going to the local town in the evening.
People are nice, food is nice but very samey and our master is brilliant, I may talk more about him later.