Journey to the East

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This summer was special because I was given the opportunity
to travel to China. I went with my martial arts school,
Huang Lin Bao Jian precious sword martial arts Academy,
to visit the famous Shaolin Temple. Demetri Daniels, the
owner and teacher of the school, takes an annual trip to
China and this year he allowed me and one other student
to go with him.
I left on June 3rd from Chicago O’Hare and flew to
Canada. We spent a couple of hours in the airport before
we boarded our plane to China. We got on the plane very
happy and charged up! Although the flight was 17 hours
long with bad food and crowded seats there were a couple
of good things about it. During the flight we pulled back
the shade once and saw the ice caps of Greenland and
another time we saw a sea of clouds that reminded me of a
giant fluffy bed. When we got off the plane in Shanghai I
was really happy to see Chinese people and the baggage
claim because I realized that we had made it. As we headed
to the Maglev train, which happens to be the fastest
train in the world (431 km per hour), Demtri and Owen
(the other student) were doing handstands on the moving
walk way. Once we were settled into our hotel we headed
to a famous restaurant called Hai Di Lao Hou Gou (pronounced
“hi di laow hwa gwa”). It was really good but
extremely spicy.
The next day we went to the Shanghai Bay. There we
were met by people trying to sell us things because they
knew we were tourists. The peddlers were extremely persistent.
They followed us and even began calling my name
after they heard one of my friends tell me to keep moving
with the group. After escaping the mob of peddlers we
went down the street and I was given the chance to try
Chinese McDonald’s, which did not taste much different
than America’s McDonald’s. In the historic part of Shanghai,
buildings looked more like the ones you would see on
TV. As we walked, we decided to enter a tea shop where we
talked to the owners Jack and Jackie, who were so nice that
they gave me 300 Chinese Yuan worth of rock tea (tea
known for its healing properties) as a gift. Soon after, we
went out for dinner at a restaurant that President Bill Clinton
and Hilary Clinton ate at.
Xi’an, the original capital of China, was our next destination.
The following day we went to the Muslim street
where we were able to shop and eat. The Muslim street
had many shops and vendors where I was able to buy hand
made scrolls for a great price. The food there was really
good and very flavorful. The people that lived in the Muslim
community had the Quran translated into Chinese for
their religious sermons. After eating and shopping it started
to rain so we headed home to sleep.
The next and last day in Xi’an, we went to see the Terra
Cotta warriors. If you do not know about the Terra Cotta
warriors, they were warriors for the Emperor. An artist
later created statues to represent the warriors and they
were put under the ground for over 2,000 years. I think
the Terra Cotta warriors were fascinating because they are
hand-made human size
statues that were made over
2,000 years ago and remain
intact after all of those
When we left the Terra
Cotta warriors we went to
the station for our train to
Zhang Zhou. The train ride
was eight hours long. When
we got off, we got a ride to
Deng Feng. Deng Feng
(pronounced “dung fung”)
is the home of the Shaolin
Temple. Jet Li made a
movie entitled, Shaolin
Temple, that made it very famous. When we reached Deng
Feng we were taken to the school where we would be staying
and train. The name of the school is Song Shan Shaolin
Shi de Cheng Guan (pronounced “song sh-an shaow-lin
shi de ch-eng gwan”). It is owned by Shi De Cheng who is
a 31st generation shaolin monk. I lived and trained in
Deng Feng for a week. On the 8th day of my trip I woke
up around 7:00 am to get ready for our eight o’clock class.
Unlike my training here at home I had to run for 15 minutes
before each class. Before we went running I would
look up and stare at the mountain in front of the school
which was the Song Shan Mountains. At the school we
trained two times a day. It was difficult at the beginning,
but just as it became easier, we had to train with the skilled
Chinese students. They were really good! Right after training
we ate and then were able to visit other places in the
city. We would sometimes go see a monk, a famous place,
or go to a Shaolin martial arts store where I bought a martial
arts outfit and gifts for other people. Then we would go
back to the school for our next class and do the same thing
The following day after our 8:00 o’clock class we went
to the Shaolin Temple. There we saw Ta gou’s school that
has over 10,000 students. Ta gou is a martial artist who has
2 schools: one by the Shaolin temple and one more in
Deng Feng. He is a very famous martial artist and has one
of the largest schools in the world. At the Shaolin Temple
we saw a performance by some of the monks. They did
Shaolin forms and iron body. Iron body is a combination of
techniques that makes there
muscles and bones
stronger and skin tougher,
to the point that the monks
can break bricks with one
hand or even his head
without it hurting extremely
The rest of my trip was full
of fun, fights and long
flights. My trip to China
helped me accept who I
am. I had a good time
being myself and not what
people wanted me to be.
This experience opened my
eyes to a different way of life and a different way of looking
at things. I am glad this trip helped me be a better me.
I really want to thank every one who has been in my life
that helped me get to China. Thank you to my family and
friends that also helped me make this journey. I really had
a good time and would like to study Shaolin more in
China in the near future. This trip to me is like children
who enjoy going to Six Flags and want to go back year
after year.

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