Yesterday we visited Huashan, one of the Taoist holy mountains in Shanxi province. Getting there felt like an ancient pilgrimage set in modern times.
We left Chenjiagou after a morning of training with Grandmaster CXX. We stopped at Shaolin Temple for a few hours. This place has been compared (by me and Bill) to Disneyland and the comparison still stands. It was pouring rain and the crowds with their multi hued ponchos and umbrellas made it look like a scene from Fantasia.
We took in the show and watched a monk throw a needle through a pane of glass to pop a balloon. Pretty cool. After the show some people toured the temple and the pagoda forest. Bill and I made our way back to the bus to wait in the comfort of the AC.
From there it was a mad rush to the Louyang train station. We left Shaolin a bit late and made it just in time. But the train was delayed. For a long time – over an hour – we sat in the waiting area with no information. Then all of a sudden the departure time popped up, the train was pulling in and we raced down a huge flight of stairs with our luggage with policemen whistling in our ear yelling at us to get on NOW. Within minutes we were in and the train pulled out. It was a bullet train and traveled at 300 km/hr, getting us to Huashan in an hour.
After a late dinner at a great restaurant we slept in a really hard bed and woke up ready for Huashan. Huashan means Flower Mountain. The 5 peaks make up the outline of a flower and the peony represents the area. In the old days, the only way up was hiking up rough steps and chain ladders. After a multitude of deaths from people falling off the ladders, they installed a cable car and took away the chain ladders, replacing them with safer steps, leaving a few old ladders for photo ops. Two of our group elected to walk the steps, taking about 3 hours to reach the top. The rest of us took the cable car.
Once at the cable car station, there were steps to get to the North Peak, which is as far as Bill and I went. It started to pour, and we got soaked in our substandard ponchos. The steps got really slippery and we felt for our friends who were talking the steps. The views were lovely, when we could see through the clouds and the throngs of tourists and their selfie sticks. We headed back down on the cable car, took a bus back to the entrance, and took a taxi back to the hotel for a 2 hour nap. I was a little disappointed that it wasn’t more spiritual up on the mountain, but in these modern times you have to create your own spirituality.
Today we will visit a Taoist temple with female monks – something rare and off limits to tourists. We’ll do some meditation and hopefully be able to speak to one of the monks. After that we head for a night in Xi’an and some time in the Muslim quarter.
* Sorry for typos – blogging from my iPhone….