< Go Back Memories of another trip to China!
I was chatting to my neighbour a few months ago and telling her all about my extra special trip to China. When she could finally get a word in edgeways she said she could tell I had a wonderful time as she could see my eyes light up as I told her about it. That's probably the best testimonial for a great trip - all organised by Tai Chi Link by the way.
Angela Howarth has written an excellent report about the first part of our amazing trip when we were special guests at the Third World Taiji Culture Festival in Sanya on the beautiful island of Hainan. It was truly a privilege and an honour to be steeped in Tai Chi Culture and to be included as part of this world, meeting well respected Grandmasters of Taijiquan (Tai Chi) from different lineages and being part of a small group Professor Li Deyin referred to as 'his people'. Add to that the excitement of having the opportunity to perform on stage with not just a few of my fellow instructor colleagues but our Master, Faye Yip and Professor Li himself. Later that same evening Professor Li had a surprise when he was presented with a well-deserved lifetime achievement award for the massive contribution he has made to the continuation, progress and development of Taijiquan.
Enough said as I'm not one for re-inventing wheels, Angela's full report including our time in Shanghai can be found here:
So, this is what happened next...
We left Shanghai early morning and headed to the beautiful town of ZhouZhuang complete with canals like a mini Chinese Venice! It was good to relax and meander along the narrow streets of this traditional water town. Faye improvised and hoisted up her scarf on a selfie stick to lead the way so our group wouldn't get lost. We visited Shen house, built in 1742 full of intricately carved furniture and exquisitely painted ceramic vases and Buddhas giving us a glimpse into days gone by. The kitchen range wasn't dissimilar from the kitchen ranges like those in old Georgian kitchens back in England, worlds apart but similar solutions to effectively using fire for cooking! Along the way we ate sweet, crunchy local snacks full of nuts and seeds reminding us of childhood days and peanut brittle, one free sample and we were all queuing up to buy.
As if we hadn't already had enough wonderful experiences, we arrived at sacred Mount Jiu Hua in Anhui province only to be met personally by the director of the training complex and hotel area who laid on a lavish lunch for us. In the afternoon he gave us a personal tour around the training complex and told us about some of the events that take place there.
Here's a question for you, what do the Chinese do when there's a mountain? Answer: build a temple on top of it! Mount Jui Hua wasn't just one mountain as it turned out, but a series of mountain peaks with temples on top of many of them. We watched mists rising and falling then lifting and descending again as we climbed through the clouds to reach one of Mount Jui Hua's summits. Along the way up we passed more temples, villages, ponds with Koi carp and turtles swimming, butterflies flitting and the occasional lotus flower at the end of it's season, seed pods forming. There were thousands of steps (I'm not exaggerating) and of course we stopped along the way for a bit of Tai Chi practice then Yi Jin Jing Qigong when we reached the temple area at the top. We were rewarded with stunning views and a sense of achievement. The group were amazing, helping one another along the way with words of encouragement and supportive hoists to go as far as possible.
After a high speed train journey we reached the hustle and bustle of Beijing, now very modern with expensive cars filling the roads and only the occasional bicycle to be seen. Beijing has changed a lot in the five years since my first visit. White cloud Daoist temple is a welcome escape from all that with its beauty, peacefulness and the intoxicating smell of incense filling the air.
I've got to mention Lily, our regular tour guide on Tai Chi Link trips. Her English was excellent and as always, she surpassed all expectations and accommodated our individual requests and queries. Her knowledge is superb and as well as organising everything we did in Beijing she guided us along giving us endless information about each place we visited. No China trip would be complete without Lily!
Early morning practice took place in the Temple of Heaven gardens where we joined Madam Gao who led the session and took us through our paces. At first we were part of a big group but I was so engrossed I barely noticed people leaving to get to work. That left Madam Gao and her team giving us a lot of attention and fine tuning our Tai Chi forms. After saying our goodbyes and taking a quick succession of photographs, we went into the Temple of Heaven area with its famous round building, the backdrop in several of the Chinese Health Qigong Association's DVD's.
In the Hutongs a small part of traditional living is being preserved and this is where a meal of fresh dumplings and traditional dishes was cooked and served to us in one of the family homes. We then headed out for a tour of the area in rickshaws as the sun started setting.
The Summer palace is stunning with its beautiful landscaped gardens, massive lake and the famous 728m long corridor first built in 1750 and richly decorated with paintings telling the stories of ancient myths and legends. There wasn't time for a dragon boat ride on this trip but the memory of a previous trip sprang to mind. We saw the marble ship that never sinks, its a work of art but you wouldn't sail off anywhere in it as it doesn't move from its spot... oh, and it's not really marble, just the result of great paint effects!
No trip to Beijing would be complete without a visit to the great Wall. There are plenty of options in the section we visited (Juyongguan) and obviously yet more steps! That meant the possibility of more breathtaking views and with clear air and blue skies we weren't disappointed. Three days in Beijing meant we even had time to spend an afternoon in the Forbidden City and tread the steps once trodden by emperors. We only saw a fraction of the place but loved the opportunity to see a terracotta warrior and horse on loan from Xian where the whole army was discovered. We even fitted in trips to markets and the Story of Kung Fu at the red theatre.
September is a great time to visit China as there is still warmth in the air and it is the time of the Harvest Moon festival complete with gifts of moon cakes along the way. It was sad when the trip came to an end but I have a feeling this won't be my last trip to China... so many places yet to see!
If you are interested in a trip to China combining Tai Chi and Qigong training with sight seeing, I highly recommend Tai Chi Link Travel who do the whole package at a really reasonable price, plus you'll experience aspects of Chinese culture not included in many more expensive tours. https://www.taichilink.net:8445/catalog/why-travel-with-us-ezp-12