Saturday, January 3, 2009

17 March 2008 - Lama Temple, Drum & Bell Towers, Hutong

Our fourth day brings us to the Lama Temple in Beijing which is rather auspicious, as it coincides with the start of riots in Tibet, and protests in different cities around the world in connection with the Olympic flame lighting ceremony. Little foreign news reaches us since TV channels go dark when these events are being broadcasted.
We visit the Drum and Bell Towers; Reminders of ancient Beijing. They had functioned as the morning and evening signals in the old days.A bicycle rickshaw tour of a Hutong provides us with a view of the old architecture which is quickly disappearing under the glass and steel of the modern Beijing. We eat lunch in local homes, experiencing a simplicity that most foreigners might find difficult. But the food is superb!The next phase of our program is to delve deeper into the culture and philosophy of Taiji. Therefore, we leave Beijing and travel south to Wudang, Shaolin, Anyang, and Lou Yang which have strong connections to Taoism and Buddhism, where Taijiquan and Kung Fu developed and is still taught in the temples and schools dedicated to them.
A journey to Xiangfan in the evening, provides yet another amazing experience. We travel to the National Airport and immediately realize the number of people in China. Our eyes search desperately for Harry's blue flag in the crowd. Long queues for security and finding the gate made it a relief to finally board the plane!
When we arrive in Xiangfan and disembark onto an empty tarmac we realize we are in the Province and the empty waiting room is a relief.
Traffic rules seem to be interpreted freely and we rumble down the main road into town, sometimes in the middle and other times serving to avoid bicyclists who suddenly change their minds and wish to travel in the opposite direction. Strangely enough the driver seems calm, almost unnerved by the irregular movements of the vehicles on the road.

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