November, December 2015
The third stop on our Journey is Fuzhou in Southern China, population 2,124 million.
Our Motel is very spacious and lush, it has huge windows that overlook a beautiful lake.
It has a very romantic arched walking bridge that leads onto a small lush island with traditional pagoda type buildings.
Very alluring. There are masses of people everywhere, the streets are raging.
We enjoy a group meal at a Thai restaurant. Again the meal was fabulous.
Then head off to the 3 lanes and 5 alleys, a very ancient part of town that's been around for 6oo years.
The buildings are made of dark red wood that are covered in the most intricate carvings and the lanterns and lighting.
We are up at 6am the next morning for our spiritual journey to the Putian Southern Shaolin Temple.
Our guide explains that Fuzhou city has two main rivers; one in the South and one in the North.
The South river is the White Dragon and the North river is the Black Dragon.
These two rivers surround the city and keep it safe.
It takes about two hours to reach Putian, with its population of around 3 million.
We pass under the 'Shaolin Gate' and drive down Shaolin Road.
A short drive sees us ascending up the mountain to the Shaolin Temple.
There is an air of anticipation, we were all very excited to be there.
As we climb the mountain we enter into the low hanging clouds.
It is very dense and the visual is down to about 6 meters in front of the van.
We are 500 meters up and surrounded by dense lush forest.
The road opens up and the Temple Grounds suddenly appear.
Wow, surrounded in mist it looks so magical.
There are red balloons, lanterns and flyers hanging from tall poles.
Through the mist the colours really brighten the place up and add even more of an air of mystic.
Apparently they were holding 'The Silk Road Buddhist Convention'.
Our guide walks us through the Temple buildings and orates the history for us.
The Putian Temple was built during the Tong Dynasty.
Thirteen Shaolin staffed monks saved the future Emperor Taizong in 621AD.
After this episode, the Emperor arranged for 3 of the 13 monks to gather a force of 500 martial monks.
They came from the Northern Shaolin Temple to wipe out the pirates
The Pirates had been plaguing the Fukien/Fujian Province coastline.
After the pirates had been subdued and with the emperor's permission, some of the Monks stayed.
They set up Temples in the Fukien/ Fujian Province.
The temple was totally destroyed around two hundred years ago.
After rediscovering the site in the mid 1980s, reconstruction began in the early 90s.
Martial arts practiced at the Temple are;
Five Ancestor Crane Sun Fist, Five Zhue Yang Quan/Fujian White Crane and Hung Kuen.
The Chinese Government announced that this Temple is the site of the original Temple.
The sacred rooms are filled with the smell of incense.
The most ornate rosewood furniture pieces have been intricately carved into beautiful patterns and designs.
We decide to do some training on the Temples gounds.
We find a spot out of the way to practice some Wing Chun forms and drills.
The Chinese love their Kung Fu heritag.
It did not take long before we had drawn quite a crowd observing and taking photo's.
Shortly after, a monk walked past, observed our practice and invited us to join the Convention.
Sifu Garry and Sifu Linda are introduced to the Head Abbot from Sydney, Australia.
What a bonus, can't believe we have an Aussie Monk here. What are the chances.
We get a group photo with the Sydney Abbot, the paparazzi are going crazy, snapping photo's left and right.
It's like we are movie stars.
We enter the conference room and the media inside go ballistic with photo's.
It's quite embarrassing as the conference is in full swing.
We are invited to the vegetarian lunch but explain that we must go as we are on a tight schedule.
Yin Yan, the head Abbot of the Shaolin Temple gets a group photo with us.
He then organizes a Shaolin performance by the young monks.
We are thrilled.
The Sydney Abbot takes us down to the main Temple.
A crowd starts to gather around the square awaiting the Shaolin performance.
About 25 monks were preparing to perform for us.
In typical Shaolin form they are loud, strong, energetic, flexible and dynamic.
They do a couple of group forms and one does a solo form.
The head abbot of Sydney asked whether one of us would like to do a performance.
Sifu Linda could not believe her ears, a once in a lifetime chance was being offered.
So I presented myself up to perform a shorter version of Biu Gee.
I felt very honored and humbled, to perform in front of the Head Abbot and the Monks of Shaolin.
With my adrenalin pumping and a huge crowd watching I endeavored to give one of my best performances.
When I finished I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. It would have to have been the highlight of my trip.
It still blows my mind when I say that I have performed at the Shaolin Temple.
We bid our farewells and head back to Fuzhou.
Wow what a day, something always unexpected happens on our Wing Chun tours.
That surprise was amazing.
The rest of the trip is tourism.
Our next stop will be Shanghai, then finishing in Beijing before returning to Melbourne Australia.