Luoyang and the Shaolin
Luoyang Travel Blog› entry 37 of 111 › view all entries
We arrived at the train station on time, and were met by a staff member from the hostel who bundled us into a taxi and took us to our hostel, which was actually pretty close to the train station.
We checked in and went to our room. We had booked beds in a 6 person dorm as it was the cheapest and most convenient accommodation option. The hostel was actually a hotel, so when we found our room was actually two triple rooms with a connecting door we weren’t that surprised.
We arrived very early in the morning and there was someone asleep in the room, and another person in the adjoining room getting ready to leave. He asked us if we were headed to the Shaolin temple, to which we said yes, and he told us that there was a bus going there, organised by the hostel, at 8am (10 minutes time).
We headed back to the room and showered, and organised our stuff before heading out to find the bus. The map wasn’t as successful as we thought, but we found a bus going in the direction for the same price, and thought we might as well go with them. We hopped on the bus, and after a few more people joined us, we were told to transfer to a coach to be taken to the Shaolin temple.
We boarded the bus and we started driving. About 20 minutes into the journey a man stood up and started talking in Chinese on the bus microphone. It was then it struck me - we had managed to find our way onto a Chinese tour bus!
As he was waffling on in Chinese, Fab and I took a nap. Not much time had passed and we had arrived at the temple (or so we thought). The man had walked through the coach towards us handing out passes in exchange for 180RMB which included three things, one of which was the temple. We said no thanks, and planned to buy our own tickets upon arrival.
We alighted from the bus and headed to the ticket office to pay the 100RMB we knew the Shaolin temple cost. No-one could speak English, but it was clear that they wanted us to pay 180RMB each.
We were given two tickets each, finding out that we’d paid 100RMB for the Shaolin Temple and 80RMB for something else. The guy from the bus had been hanging around waiting for us, and pointed in the direction of a gate and wrote down and gestured that we needed to be back at the bus in the next 40 minutes. We wandered off expecting to find the temple, but were disappointed to find what looked like a park with some parts of an old temple which had been turned into a museum.
After 30 minutes we were bored and headed back to the bus.
Finally we departed the park/museum place and headed towards what we hoped was the Shaolin temple. We drove through tretcherous mountain passes with sheer drops on either side and incredible views. After a few minutes we approached a temple on the hillside and our spirits lifted. This must be it!
We walked up the many steps to the temple and entered the gate. There was a monk there, taking our group around the temple, but besides him and our group, the place was almost completely deserted.
It was soon time to leave for the bus, so we rushed down the stairs to get back in time. Everyone had been waiting for us and two others. We drove a little further then stopped at a small restaurant in the middle of nowhere and were ushered off the bus. They had an English language menu, so we decided to grab something small to eat. We ordered kung po chicken with egg fried rice. It arrived fast and we tucked in. The chicken dish was virtually just a plate of bone and gristle covered in sauce, but the meat we found on there was delicious, and the rice was amazing again, albeit greasy.
We got back on the bus, feeling a little nauseus from the greasy food, and headed for our last destination which actually was the famous Shaolin temple.
On the way to the temple we passed a small demonstation of kung fu by the trainees of the temple, and as we sat there watching random Chinese people approached us and asked to take our photographs! This would turn out to be the tone of the day.
We headed on to the temple and wandered in. It looked identical to the one we’d been in before, but just overrun with tourists. We had a quick look around then continued onwards towards the Pagoda Forest which was nearby.
It was a great sight; just like a forest of pagodas, as the name suggests, and also the location of a scene from the Jet Li movie Shaolin Kids. There were monks selling touristy nick-nacks and more people wanting to take a photo with us, including a security guard who we’d said hello to earlier.
We wandered back from the pagoda forest towards the place we’d seen the kung fu show, and walked through the ticket barrier. We only had about 30 minutes before we had to be back on the bus, which was disappointing since we discovered that the real Shaolin kung fu show was where we were - with real Shaolin monks performing their martial arts.
We picked up some cup noodles on the way back, hoping to have a quick and easy dinner and get an early night’s sleep… well we were sorely mistaken.
To cut a seriously long story short, the air con in our half of the dorm wasn’t working so we asked reception 3 times to fix it (it was stiflingly hot that evening). After 3 hours waiting someone came up and tried to get one of us to hack the heat and the other to go into the other half of the room where there was one spare bed. We were then offered a new room, which we accepted, hoping we’d get a private room.
We packed up our stuff as fast as we could and headed upstairs to the room they mentioned.
Down at reception we sorted out the paperwork and tried to explain to a woman who couldn’t speak English that we were locked out and that we needed the key from before to let us in.
We fell back to sleep again ready to wake up for a boring day ahead.