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Luoyang Travel Blog

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A street in Luoyang

The morning tour bus rush at the hotel was quite something. Their breakfast area was so crowded that it was impossible to find a free table, I got to sit down when one of our tour group people was leaving, and a stranger from another tour group took the other seat. The busses were making quite a jam at the front of the hotel too, but at last we were off.


We lucked out again, it was cloudy in the morning, but the sun even peeked out today. First stop was the Shaolin temple in the SongShan mountain, the middle of the 5 sacred mountains in ancient China. Shaolin temple is outside the small Dengfeng city, which is now full of kungfu schools, with more than 50000 students from age 3 and up! The entrance to the temple was very commericalized, with shops and ticket booth, and a statue of a monk.

View of part of Songshan from a rest stop
The mountains around the temple had a little snow on them from the cold snap a couple of days ago.

The kungfu show in the Shaolin temple was in a round auditorium, however, they packed SO MANY people in there, the aisles were full of people standing and blocking my view, I was sitting next to the aisle, which was a big mistake. So if you go, be sure to sit in the middle where no one can block you. Of course, it's possible that some idiot would stand up in front of you to take pictures! It was so incredible. I did not get to see much of the show.

Then we visited the temple itself, and its many stone steles. Most of the temple were burned down in 1928, but there were some buildings from the Ching dynasty (about 300 years old).

The entry of the Shaolin temple
There are about 100 monks in the temple today, with tens of thousands of visitors per day. Further back in the temple, it does get less visited, so you could get a littler quieter. A temple is a temple, but Shaolin had a lot of stone steles, one was especially famous because it was given to the temple by the Tang dynasty emporer, who had some help from some Shaolin temple monks when he was overthrowing the previous Sui dynasty. He allowed the Shaolin monks to drink wine and eat meat, so the monks here did not have to be vegetarians.

We visited the Ta Lin (the pagoda forest) where the high monks were buried in the back. It was the scene of the movie Shaolin Temple by Jet Li. Which made the Shaolin temple even more famous worldwide. There were about 300 pagodas here, and the level of them shows how high up the monks were.

Kungfu students practicing jumping in the courtyard of Shaolin temple entrance area, composite photo, the buildings behind were shops.
There were a few with 7 levels, which is the highest level. A Chinese saying says "saving one person's life is better than making a 7 level budda tower", so here are examples of these 7 level towers. It was also very interesting to note that the latest monk buried there has a laptop computer engraved on his tower (see also photo).

Then we visited the Taoist temple: Middle Sacred Moutain temple, the middle mountain being Songshan. The old Chinese heartlands did not have real tall mountains, Songshan is about 1500m, so is Taishan, the one in Shangdong we would visit later on this trip. Taishan was the one visited by emporers who were called Son of Heaven in China, and the sons had to pay respect to their father, the Heavens, so they had to go to the tallest mountains they can to do that.

statue of the high priest Damo in Shaolin temple
While Xu Ze Ten, the female emporer mentioned in a previous journal entry took over the Tang dynasty, she decided being a female, she had to worship the heavens from a different place, her capital being Luoyang, so the nearest tall mountain Songshan became the natural place for this purpose. So this Taoist temple was where emporer Xu paid her respect to the heavens. It covered a large area and had some very old cypress trees, the youngest of which were about 800 years old! It's enlightening to realize how much the Chinese folklores were influenced by the Taoist beliefs. Many gods that we heard about in stories were Taoist figures, I did not know that. And the ruler of the Songshan moutain was the one responsible for Hell in Chinese folklore. They had two real long halls showing hundreds of statues of various officials of hell, there were 72 departments each responsible for a different kind of death, quite facinating.

We made an unscheduled stop at one of the four famous schools in China. The Songyang school was only a few minutes from the Middle Sacred Mountain temple, it was small, but very elegant. The oldest cypress trees in the county was in this school, supposedly about 4000 years old, no matter if the age was correct, it really looked old and distinguished.


stabber911 says:
No, picture of you trying chinese kongfu?
Posted on: Dec 05, 2007
cygnus16 says:
Hmmmm. I wonder which depaartment I would be referred to. lol
Posted on: Jan 08, 2007
cygnus16 says:
Correction to "Sermon on The Mount. That was Jesus. I was thinking of Moses who, after climbing to the top of a mountain to have a chat with God, returned with sacred scrolls containing the Ten Commandments. As I said, I'm a cynic.
Posted on: Jan 08, 2007
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A street in Luoyang
A street in Luoyang
View of part of Songshan from a re…
View of part of Songshan from a r…
The entry of the Shaolin temple
The entry of the Shaolin temple
Kungfu students practicing jumping…
Kungfu students practicing jumpin…
statue of the high priest Damo in …
statue of the high priest Damo in…
The crowds in the auditorium for v…
The crowds in the auditorium for …
stone steles in the Shaolin temple…
stone steles in the Shaolin templ…
A painted wall inside one of the t…
A painted wall inside one of the …
The floor of the same room, showin…
The floor of the same room, showi…
another statue of the Damo priest …
another statue of the Damo priest…
One of the pagodas for a recently …
One of the pagodas for a recently…
Two of the oldest pagoda for monks…
Two of the oldest pagoda for monk…
Hot and sweet baked yams for sale …
Hot and sweet baked yams for sale…
Shaolin scenic spot map
Shaolin scenic spot map
View of Shaoshishan as we left Sha…
View of Shaoshishan as we left Sh…
Entry of the Songshan Taoist temple
Entry of the Songshan Taoist temple
A kid in a tiger outfit at the ent…
A kid in a tiger outfit at the en…
The first building gate in the Son…
The first building gate in the So…
Luoyang
photo by: portia