The Styling Librarian

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Styling Librarian HK Update Year 2 Wk 3 Special Edition Shaolin Si Henan China

IMG_7807What happens when you’ve gone on an adventure and you wish to post only once about this, not multiple times? You create a variety of collage pictures that can honor the experience.
I already posted about the initial stages of this big family adventure here:
Styling Librarian: Hong Kong Update Week 52 You Come Too
So honored that Lenore Look invited our family to join her at Shaolin Temple for Kung Fu training. We had four full training days with her Shi Fu, Kung Fu master, and learned so much.

Family hotel we stayed at. Contact me privately via email for further details.

Family hotel we stayed at. Contact me privately via email for further details.

We really enjoyed the experience. We also learned much from living in the Shaolin Si village during our visit. We stayed at a family hotel, Yin He Hotel Shao Lin He Nan, with a lovely close family who worked both in the home to maintain the hotel and additionally in different roles around the Shaolin Temple whether as drivers, tour guides, or chefs. Our house mother was an amazing chef and I always anticipated what her creativity would yield to us at each meal. Our son had some challenges adjusting to new breakfast, lunch, and dinners but we all adapted and enjoyed learning about food in another culture. Some of us have new favorite meals to try to replicate here in Hong Kong.

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IMG_7591When we arrived at Shaolin Temple, we were dropped off at the outside edge. Lenore Look and her  Kung Fu master met us at the gates and helped us catch a ride with a local friend into Shaolin Si to our village family hotel. We quickly settled, ate a delicious dinner prepared by our house mother, and then walked around the village for a little while in the late evening. We watched numerous Kung Fu students practicing in the area. They aren’t the official Shaolin Temple schools but are quite serious and amazingly talented too. We went to a tiny store and found Kung Fu shoes for each one of us. They all look the same, have very thin soles, and are perfect for Kung Fu practice. 
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Lenore provided our son with a surprise gift that evening as well- his own official Kung Fu outfit and lesson on how to wear it. He didn’t wear this with every training session but was quite proud to have the official outfit. It was interesting to learn how to wrap the pant legs, put a rubber band to hold the pants in place just under the knee and then pull up the long socks. Quite official.
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In the morning we had an amazing breakfast and took our long walk to the Shaolin Temple. (It wasn’t really that long, felt that way returning each day since there is quite the hill to walk up.)
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We practiced Kung Fu twice that day. Both times away from the Shaolin Temple. Here are my thoughts on Kung Fu practice sessions.

Learning Kung Fu

IMG_7664You must have a good meal… If you stay at a village home and your house mother is a talented one, then you’ll have fascinating, healthy food to enjoy at each meal.
First walk down to the temple from the village.
Then run to get your blood pressure up and go until you break a sweat, if you already broke a sweat then go around a temple or training platform around 10 times.
Stretching takes a long time, first legs, then arms up, and then bend with arms down. Then go into horse stance and bend one way and then the other.
Stretch legs out more and then begin the line practice. First kicking forward. Then kicking inside and outside. While your legs are working, your arms should be stuck out to the side palms up at a 90 degree angle.
IMG_7846Once you go back and forth practicing, you then get to enjoy doing the step punch walk… Then, the cross step, side kick, head block pattern, then… Other steps that are difficult to explain.
You might get the opportunity to learn a Shaolin kick boxing routine which is exciting, beautiful, and exhausting simultaneously. You might find that during the routine, all the practice walks and patterns you practiced are naturally integrated in.
So… During different times, you might find yourselves needing a break. If that is the case, you probably will be given hot water and tea. This is traditional and quite important for routines and practice. You might realize that you shouldn’t drink cold water during training according to practice and belief for your body to not lose its fire.
You are told before lunch to head home, eat, shower, and take a nap. No choice in the matter. The first day I was quite relieved to nap even though our kiddo would have none of it.
Training occurs in the morning and afternoon.

During meals we enjoyed a variety of food including special soups and amazing chow mein that I hadn’t experienced before. It was fun to take a few #chompsticks images as well…
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We did squeeze in tourist activities. One we really enjoyed was going to the Pagoda Forest. Quite an honorable resting place for the monks.
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IMG_7755We walked around the Shaolin Temple and practiced Kung Fu there as well. The place is packed with tourists from 6am-6pm and many came to watch us practice. We ran around one temple ten times in a row. When you run by the golden goddess you see above, you can’t help but pause to look and respect…
Most of the time the people watching us are other monks and construction people working around the temple. Since we’re so busy learning, it is easy to ignore most of the onlookers. I was grateful that Lenore was quite confident and knew what to do, helped guide us along during our steep learning curve for each new movement. Personally, I was also relieved that my body agreed to the abuse I put it through for four days. Pretty good challenge!
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We did avoid crowds one evening when we returned to the Shaolin Temple and walked around in the quiet. Amazing to peacefully walk around and look… There were beautiful opportunities to stop and stare each time. I just loved the smell of incense as we walked through different areas. 
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We walked down to the main shopping area. Lenore had her debit card eaten by a machine there– there was actually a boy at the monastery who did research, went to the main town, and forced the bank to give her the card back instead of having to worry about having another one mailed. I was continually impressed with this community that reaches out, bends over backwards, and supports every member, beautiful. The shopping area was interesting, there were some gorgeous things for sale. The main thing my son wanted were nunchucks and we wanted to get some kung fu pants. Thanks to Lenore’s negotiations and translations, did you know she speaks beautiful Mandarin?, we received reasonable prices and were able to visit the same store a few days later for other needs as well.
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There were so many messages on signposts around Shaolin Si if you slow down to read them as you walk around. Just loved finding these. My husband was more thoughtful about capturing these images but here are a few!
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One day we took the longest cable car up into the maintains where there was a pathway with so many steps! I had already had Kung Fu practice that morning and another one looming that afternoon, so I was not able to push myself enough to go all the way to the temple on the far end of the path. Gorgeous views.
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I almost never had my camera out during Kung Fu sessions, but one of the last sessions, I took a break and snapped a few photos. Lenore is more conscientious than I am about whipping the camera out, so I was actually in a few photos as well, thanks to her! Declan loved having the chance to chat with Lenore. Whenever we were taking walks back and forth from the temple to the hotel, they would have many conversations. Lenore is a kid magnet, amazing to watch. We had one chat where we talked about finding your warrior when you were doing Kung Fu. Lenore quickly said, “You also need to be a warrior when you are writing!”
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Our house mother has a gorgeous garden in the middle of a community space. There is a little stream in the gully and homes on either side. She organizes and grows everything that we eat. It was thoroughly amazing to have food fresh off the vine in a delicious variety of ways!
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Lenore wisely mentioned to our house mother that we would like to learn how to make the dumplings we think are delicious. We were quite proud to work together making one dumpling after another. I think we created over 100 before we were done. It was quite fun to work with a partner and have time to chat as well. I didn’t realize how easy creating the dumplings could get. Fill up the dough with delicious filling and then pinch it closed very carefully. I thought it was quite a delicious project to be part of. Our house mother shocked us with numerous other dishes as a special meal for our final dinner there.
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We were quite proud to eat our efforts at dinner in addition to our surprise over a delicious celebration dinner to celebrate our last dinner at the family hotel. My husband found a new treat that I know we’ll see in our house quite soon- tomatoes with crystal sugar. It was a treat many enjoyed! I didn’t touch it since I’m allergic to tomatoes but was thrilled a healthy treat was discovered.
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Finally, we said goodbye to our new-found community and enjoyed one last wander around the area. Our son attracted many curious onlookers during the week, even in regular clothes. Once we were asked by a lovely mother and daughter if he could take a picture with the daughter, so I actually decided to join in the fun and take a picture of them as well! 
Met Pacific, a student from Rwanda studying Kung Fu. He had the friendliest personality.

Met Pacific, a student from Rwanda studying Kung Fu. He had the friendliest personality.

This was quite a gift of time. I feel personally enriched, thrilled that my son was exposed to new perspectives, lifestyles and food, and my husband was in his element and wishes to return for more training every year. Having the time to become friends with Lenore Look was fantastic. It was great to have fascinating conversations to learn about her inspiration, past, and I had never ending amazement about what a kind, welcoming soul Lenore has… so grateful for the invitation she extended a month ago!

Happy reading and adventures your way everyone!

Visit other Hong Kong updates here: http://thestylinglibrarian.com/hong-kong-life-updates/

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4 comments on “Styling Librarian HK Update Year 2 Wk 3 Special Edition Shaolin Si Henan China

  1. Meg Miranda
    August 11, 2013

    Wow! What a wonderful experience for each of you. And how was your arthritis? I don’t think mine is as bad as yours and as long as I keep walking everyday it stays in check but when I take a tango class on ochos which involves a lot of hip twisting, man, I ache for hours!

    • The Styling Librarian
      August 11, 2013

      I was really careful w/everything, advil helped but overall, I was relieved to not have a worse reaction! 🙂 The side kicks were a killer, so I understand the ache! I am still in recovery from the training… 🙂

  2. Maryrose Raegen
    August 12, 2013

    What an amazing, rare experience! I can only imagine the joy at watching Declan take all this in, as well. Always looking for enriching new life experiences to share!
    🙂 Maryrose

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