Tag Archives: Shaolin

When in China

Last Christmas, I gave my parents a trip to China (and back!) as a Christmas gift. We couldn’t afford going abroad when I was a child (except for that one time in 1991 when we had saved up enough to go to Spain for a week, by bus) so I wanted to take them now instead along with my lovely wife.

About a month ago it was time for the actual trip. We mostly stayed in Xi’an, the first capital of China, but took day trips to other places.

Here, it’s easier if I just show you…

Cable management in China
Muslim Quarter in Xi’an
Candy crush live!
Candy crush live!
Xi’an Drum Tower
Moon over Xi’an Drum Tower
Birds, now on cable
Nice hooters!
On our way to Xi’an Terracotta museum
Terracotta Army, Hall 1
Me at the Terracotta Army puzzle ward
Terracotta warriors in a different perspective
Terracotta warrior details, face
Terracotta warrior details, body
Terracotta warrior details, horse
Horses, wagon and driver all made in bronze
Huge Emperor Qin statue on the Terracotta Army museum parking lot
At the Shaolin temple
This tree has been used for hundreds of years by Shaolin monks to train finger punching
Details on a Shaolin temple roof. That guy sure has a lot of pets!
Main Shaolin temple training hall. Thousands of monks has for hundreds of years trained kicks, jumps and stomps, making pits in the floor.
Tower at the Shaolin Temple
Martial arts performance at the Shaolin Temple
Every Shaolin abbot has since the year 791 had their ashes buried in a pagoda on the holy Song mountain. The area is now called the Pagoda Forest, containing 228 pagodas, one for each master. This pagoda was raised for the previous abbot when he passed away 2010. Note that aside from martial arts, the inscriptions also depict a video camera and a laptop.
Mom & Dad at the Pagoda Forest
Me and my wife Marianne at the river Yi
Xiangshan Monastery
The 17 meter tall Lu She Na Buddha
Buddha’s buddies
The river Yi
Lóngmén shíkū – The Dragon Gate Caves, a.k.a Longmen grottoes. 2345 man-made caves on both sides of the river Yi, housing around 100’000 stone statues – all carved directly from the mountain.
In the streets of Xi’an
Almost all scooters in Xi’an are electric. This was an exception.
Me sniffing flowers and stuff. Neat.
Small Wild Goose Pagoda, completed year 709. After a violent earthquake in the 1500’s, the top two floors collapsed and only 13 stories remain. It has otherwise survived more than 70 earthquakes.
Playing Peek-a-boo behind a 1300 year old tree
Scenic area outside the Small Wild Goose Pagoda
We found Barad-dûr in China!
We also found the Chinese Princess Leia
Guangren Lama Temple, a Tibetan buddhist monastery, seen from the Xi’an city wall
Shopping sunglasses with my dad

All in all, it was a very interesting trip. There is a radical difference in cleanliness, culture and people’s behavior compared to e.g. Japan.

For one thing, we were constantly photographed by strangers. Some additional facts may have contributed to this though. This will take some explaining, so please bear with me;

We went to several places where we didn’t see any other westerners, or only very few – the ones we did see were pretty much all in their 20-30’s, carrying backpacks and cameras. We stood out from the crowd even in the cities for several reasons:

  1. We didn’t see any older westerners (40+).
  2. We hardly saw any people with white, or even gray hair.
  3. We hardly saw anybody with facial hair other than a thin mustache, and nobody with a full beard.
  4. We didn’t see anyone with visible tattoos – 75% of our group had very visible tattoos on our arms.

We also went to China during the Qingming Festival, a holiday for honoring the dead, but also a time where many are traveling. A lot of people from the countryside go to visit their friends and relatives in other cities, this can be the only time of year where they leave the immediate surroundings of their villages. It appeared as if many of them had never seen westerners before, at least not like us. Some days perhaps 20 people came up and wanted to take selfies with us, but mostly people just took pictures or started filming us without asking for permission. It even happened that while we were sitting on a bench, parents came up and put their children in our laps to take pictures of us together as if we were a tourist attraction. I don’t mind people taking the occasional picture of me, but that was a bit much. This behavior was much more visible when going outside the cities to more distant areas such as on Song Mountain, Shaolin and Lóngmén shíkū. Though it did become more amusing when I started playing a game – when I saw someone take a picture of me or anyone in my company, I pulled out my camera an took a picture of them as well. Often I only had a second or so to take the photo before the people started reacting and sometimes hiding their faces. People who wanted to take selfies with me using their phones  & cameras seemed absolutely puzzled when I instead took a picture with mine (though I always did let them take one as well). But it gave us all a few laughs.

Photographing the photographers