Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Happy Valentine’s Day or Qixi Festival

Today is the Chinese version of Valentine’s day. The day changes each year due to the lunar calendar, so it's held on the 7th month, 7th day. So, for all you guys who missed it back in February, now is your chance to make it up to your sweeties.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled post….

Shaolin Temple

After the disorganized performance and lunch, we went to see the actual temple. The temple itself isn’t really anything to brag about and perhaps it's because we have seen way too many of them at this point, but the location of the temple is something to behold. It is set in a valley surrounded by mountains, thus giving it a very peaceful, albeit without tourists, atmosphere.

This temple apparently had been forgotten until Jet Li made a movie about it back in the 80's, and now tourists come by the bus loads, mostly Chinese, though we did see some foreigners.

The Shaolin temple was originally built back in 495 AD, but only one lion statue is original, the rest has been rebuilt. Legend has it that monks here defended one of the emperors from the Tang dynasty by using their kungfu ability and to this date they are the only monks allowed to practice kungfu in China. That being said, many students have come far and wide, including the U.S, to learn the teachings of Kung Fu.

Main entrance

The only original piece of the temple is this lion

Inside of Shaolin Temple

After the temple, we wandered down to see Ta Lin (Forest of Pagodas). Again with the backdrop of Songshan it is quite impressive. There are approximately 240 of these pagodas which stand up to 7 stories high and were built between 620A.D to 1911. They were built for high ranking monks and abbott's.

Just in case the walk is too much for you, a camel has been provided for your convenience.

Ta Lin (Forest of Pagodas)

Every once in awhile a monk is in need of a hand

Songshan in the background
At one point a young lad who is learning Kung Fu at this temple, wanted to take a picture of this laowai, and in return was able to snap a couple of photos of him posing in Kung Fu stance.

Though the temple was a little disappointing, the Forest of Pagodas was not.

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