Shaolin Monastery

from kung fu to commercial

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China has such a blend of ancient meets modern, basic meets advanced, east meets west. One day we are watching Shaolin monks performing kung fu moves and the next we are in modern Shanghai with the high rise buildings.

Push up with four fingers?
Push up with four fingers?

Visiting the Shaolin Temple and watching a demonstration was one thing we were looking forward to from the moment we booked the trip. And it didn’t disappoint. We were treated to a half hour performance where the performers were doing push up with four fingers, boys aged about 10 or 11 performing “stunts” and one performer broke a piece of metal over his head. This demonstrated the power of the mind and how the energy we have from within can be transferred.

Holes created from the force of the monks' fingers
Holes created from the force of the monks’ fingers

There are trees within the grounds that have these deep holes bored out by fingers of monks who had completed the training.  Imagine the force and power required to do that!

One thing we witnessed which we are still in awe today. Had we not seen it with our own eyes live on stage we may not believe it ourselves. There was a monk holding a balloon and another two monks holding a piece of glass in front of this balloon. This was a piece of glass that was taken around and tapped to show to the audience that it was a solid piece of glass. One of the monks prepared himself for about a minute with his eyes closed, controlling his breathing and then threw a needle (no bigger than a sewing needle) at the piece of glass, penetrated the glass and burst the balloon. His first attempt had failed and the nail merely bounced of the glass but his second attempt created a tiny “bullet” hole in the glass which was again brought around for the audience to see. Holy moly – it was one of the most incredible things we have seen happen in front of our eyes.

Zen Music Show in the open air theatre
Zen Music Show in the open air theatre

On the same night, we attended a Shaolin zen music show in the open air theatre. Sitting in the middle of the mountains, the backdrop could not be more magical! It was worth sitting in subzero temperatures for!

After farewelling ancient China, we were culturally awoken when we arrived in Shanghai. Shanghai is very westernised, very modern and had blue skies! In most places around China, it was quite rare to steal glimpses of the alphabet as most things were written in Chinese characters however arriving in Shanghai, English is everywhere. We were already feeling like our holiday was coming to an end. We even got to see a little Australia had hit Shanghai when the lights went out for an hour for Earth Hour 🙂

Shanghai buildings