Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
They were moving heavy things up and down these very stairs:
Older stairs are found higher up in the mountains. The chains on the banisters of these below not only help you stay stable, but people put padlocks on them to signify their affection and then toss the keys off into the abysses that are off the paths. If you click on this image to view it bigger, you will see the cable cars in the background which have become the more popular way to ascend to the top of the highest peak in the Wudang Range.
No matter what highway, there's always some guy who wants a limo. I could have succumbed to this convenience but found using a walking stick was more helpful and appropriate.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Below, a closer view of the temple seen in the distance above, one of many in the area.
Below, a view from the temple grounds in the afternoon mist.
Can there be any doubt how the tradition of shui mo (ink and water) shan shui (mountains and water) painting was conceived?
These scenes inspire my own feeble attempts.
Above, a copy from some ancient dynasty piece.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The bus from the station took us only to the entrance where we once again had to transfer bags and people to enter the Wudang area; it is a little like a National Park so we had to pass through gates. An addition in '08 was the ridiculous outdoor TV screen installed to show us digitally what we were actually looking at. I think it said "Welcome You to Wudang."
Our monk was little bemused by the TV.
The bus twisted and turned up up up for about an hour in mountains that seemed like a cross between Vermont and Pennsylvania. Just way more grandiose. In '07, Miss Shiatsu and I were weeping at the beauty, holding hands like children. "We're almost there!" In '08 I shared a seat with a nice Peruvian massage therapist from Florida; he was a big bear of a guy, but his breathless comment was "It's beautiful, awesome." How strange that I was accompanied by massage specialists on both these trips up the mountain.
Finally the group invaded "Crow's Ridge," a little strip of a village, not exactly Aspen, with hotels in various states of disrepair on one side of the street, shops --concessions, really -- on the other.
But through a short tunnel between a couple of the shops on the right, and this was our first real view of what we would call home for the next two weeks.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
I have decided to paint a bit, sketching out an image, a cat regarding a goldfish in a bowl. (Sorry thise images are so small; I hope you can click on them to see the details.) At the same time I am reading a book (Henry Alford's "How to Live") and drinking wine (Red Bicyclette, a light cheap French Pinot Noir that the Wizard and I both can drink--he bought a case.)
The Yellow Emperor, model for the cat in my painting, is watching me from his throne.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
LEAVING BEIJING '07
On the morning before taking the train to Wudang we visit the Chinese Taoist Association's Temple (White Cloud) with Teacher Shao.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
First full day: visited temples in Fragrant Hills park, hiking in the heat, some introductory tai chi, meditation and qigong practice with some Taoist practitioners, a wonderful vegetarian lunch, observing lots of traditional Chinese activities and arts. I wonder what it must have been like during the Cultural Revolution. Was all this stuff underground and ignored? I am told Mao didn't mess too much with the Taoists. I wouldn't mess with them either, even though they are very attractive.
We visited one of the brothers in his little literati home where he demonstrated calligraphy, and, of course, sold us some fine pieces. Big energetic works with the ideograms of "Tao" and "Dragon" were very popular. I was captivated by a rather large scroll that was the first chapter of the Yellow Emperor's Classic. It's quite large, and more costly at 2000 yuan (nearly $300US) than the simple ones; I can have it for 1500 (about $220), but I have only 1490 on me. "Don't worry about it," Teacher Shao says. Well, that was only about a buck off. I still haven't figured out quite how to display it in my home. I take it out and look at it from time to time though. I need to have my Chinese painting teacher look at it to assure me it was worth it.
We then savored another veggie banquet at a nearby restaurant, tasty and filling, unaware that it would be the last extravagant meal we would have, courtesy the tour, for three weeks. We also enjoyed a guqin concert by Teacher Shao. Some of our group also demonstrated their kung fu, qi gong, and sword techniques.
After dinner, we walked back to Teacher Shao's to pick up our calligraphy. It was hot and claustrophobic and I didn't want to linger, so I left early in the darkness with another new friend, a nice young Brit who taught theatre to high school students. We thought we knew the way back to the hotel, but after circling around the not too well lit neighborhood several times, asking non-English speaking strangers to point the way to the hotel named on our room keys, we finally arrived at it. But who knew there were two hotels with the same name! We actually had to enter the door to realize we were not in the correct Fragrant Hills Hotel. Just like two Tony Leungs. Our hotel proved to be the shorter one.
I wake at dawn, a little overwhelmed by the quick HK visit and flight to Xian, which included the most astonishing views up over the mountains, flying low, the mountains just kept getting more and more dramatic, until they suddenly fell off, like the front range of the Rockies, before the grand plain that Xian sits in. The morning air in Xian is thick and hazy and smells of coal. After a hotel breakfast that affords some initial bonding among this group, we visit a park along the city walls where we do qi gong to calm us after travel. Chinese park visitors watch us, and some join in.Xian City Wall Park
A New Way of Walking
In the park, there is a curious stone pattern to encourage a kind of foot reflexology as you walk around it. My plantar's fasciitis was a little sensitive, so I avoided this stimulation. Kids love it.