I am not so good at blogging and working on my books at the same time. When I’m doing one, the other tends to suffer. Hence, the delays between posts. I’m definitely not a daily blooger, not even a weekly one. But at last, after finishing the first round of copyedits on my next Alvin Ho book, I’m back to tell you a little more of my latest adventures in China . . .
After two glorious days of nothing but eating and sightseeing and living in a five-star hotel in Shanghai, I got on a flight to Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province. From the Zhengzhou airport I took a two-hour cab ride to Shaolin Temple, where I had trained in kung fu last November, to continue my training. I was such a fantastic student last year that my kung fu master invited me back to “train as long as you want.” So for my research trip this year, instead of touring a hundred different cities, I decided to settle into one place for a totally different experience.
And this is what happened to me . . .
Located on Mount Song, Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of kung fu and Chan (Zen) Buddhism, is gated and heavily guarded. Vehicles are not permitted to enter without a permit. Tourists are not allowed to enter without a ticket. Workers are not allowed in without their i.d.s around their necks. The only ones allowed to go freely in and out are monks and villagers. At this point, my kung fu master had to come out and bring me in on foot.
I moved back to the village where I stayed last year. The village is called Wangzhiguo. It’s located a short uphill walk from the temple. This is what it looks like going uphill to the village: And this is what it looks like going downhill toward the temple:This is the first glimpse of the village as you get to the top (using the short-cut through the woods): And this is the street that I went to live on:My home for the next four weeks was between the two pots on the left, above.
How do you go from fancy digs in Shanghai to this?
Easy. Don’t think about it. When you’re an author, you should be able to live anywhere. You should be as pleased to live here as anywhere else. And I was. I was really looking forward to living as a villager.
And my village mom was so happy to see me back, she hurried into her kitchen and made me a hot bowl of welcome noodles right away:Mmmm! Yummy and spicy! Her cooking is delicious! She had remembered that I don’t eat meat, and that my favorite dish was tomato and egg. I gobbled it all up, just like that.
Then she let me choose my own room, out of the many that she had. She runs a hotel out of her home. You can rent a private room with a private bathroom, or a shared room with a shared bathroom in the hallway. You can also have her make all your meals for you for an additional fee. Or you can eat out. Your choice. Guess what I chose? I picked the room with the cleanest bathroom. And I went for the gimme-the-works meal plan. No questions asked. Just FEED ME!!!