Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of Kung Fu

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Shaolin Temple, the birthplace of Kung Fu

After having realized the day before that going to Shaolin Temple from Luoyang at 12pm was a little late, we changed our bus tickets for 4 yuan more and left at 8am instead.

We were very lucky, as a staff member at the bus station helped us once we were through the departure gate by showing us which was the correct bus in a sea of buses crowded into the station … At 8:02 our bus was on its way to Shaolin Temple.

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Family Travel Secret
The buses usually honk their horns every time they overtake a car, truck, motorbike or tuk tuk. We have come to the conclusion that, given there aren't many rules when driving (or if there are they are not followed), this is a way of warning what they are trying to do at any given time. We can assure you though that listening to the horn constantly for an hour and a half or more is not the most pleasant way to spend a journey ... 🙂

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Our visit to the Shaolin Temple

At 10am we arrived at Shaolin Temple where it was pretty cloudy, as seems to be typical in the area. We weren’t lucky enough to have a sunny day. After buying the tickets we bumped into several students from the Kung Fu school which is based there.

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Family Travel Secret
Shaolin Temple is considered to be the birthplace of the martial arts of Shaolin and Kung Fu, and currently has 35,000 students performing various martial arts there.

Impressions from the Shaolin Temple

When we arrived at one square near the school, we witnessed a Kung Fu display by quite a large group of young students from the school. They did such varied jumps and acrobatics that they amazed Noah.

Impressions from the Shaolin Temple

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After a little more walking we arrived at the Shaolin Temple, where the hordes of people prevented us from enjoying the special atmosphere that a sacred place like this could have created … Even so, we all enjoyed the place and the smells of incense.

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When we left there we literally bumped into 500 Buddhas in the Shifang Buddhist Temple … We didn’t know we’d find anything like that (because when Ruth had done her research it was about Pagoda Forest – everything else was an added extra and a luxury), which made up for what we were not going to be able to see in Hong Kong with its 1000 Buddhas (as we couldn’t include it on our trip).

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When leaving the Shifang Buddhist Temple we asked how to get to Pagoda Forest, and they told us it was about 3 kilometers away (or that’s what we understood). We therefore decided to take the trolley bus, although in the end it turned out to be less than a kilometer. But the best thing about it is that, when you get to where the ancient Pagoda Forest is, you also arrive at the entrance to Songshan Mountain.

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Songshan Mountain was the first mountain in Henan Province that I had chosen for us to visit, but deciding that it was a bit difficult to access from Pagoda Forest (access to information on the internet is not always easy in China) I had discarded the idea in favor of other more interesting and accessible mountains.

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Eventually we were there in front of Songshan Mountain, just a cable car ride away. Fábio decided to stay in the Pagoda Forest area while Noah and me went up with a Chinese family who very kindly assisted us with translation and information about the place. Going up in the cable car was very fun for the children.

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Family Travel Secret
Those who want to have a more authentic experience can do the ascent on foot (believed to be about 2 hours of ascent through a thick forest) and getting to the most important parts of the mountain requires at least another 4 hours.

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Initially I let Noah play freely with his new friend, but as soon as the first rocky cliffs began to appear, I held his hand and we walked very carefully.

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The explorers at Songshan Mountain

Family Travel Secret
Songshan Mountain is made of limestone and so are its pathways and stairs, so in the event that it rains or the ground is wet you should be very careful, as it can become very slippery. That was one of the reasons why we didn't spend long at the summit, because when we arrived there we heard thunder from an approaching storm. With Noah, I am more conscious of risk and dangers - without him I might have walked a bit more in the area ... 🙂

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The landscape, the steep mountain wall, the narrow path, the combination of the clouds, the view of a temple in the distance (apparently 2 hours away) and the threat of the storm that was approaching was such a special combination. Without doubt this was a place to visit with a lot more time to spend there – and perhaps with better weather 🙂

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View from Songshan Mountain

Once we had descended we visited Pagoda Forest, although currently it is not possible to access it and walk among the pagodas (we think this was because some of them are being restored). It is a real marvel as there are more than 248 pagodas built over several dynasties which cover an area of 14,000m2.

Pagoda Forest at the Shaolin Temple

 

 

Pagoda Forest - Shaolin Temple

Pagoda Forest - Shaolin Temple

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At the end of Pagoda Forest we decided to return to the entrance, as the buses back to Luoyang are pretty scarce (1 per hour) and it seems that the last leaves at 4:05pm (although we cannot confirm this) and it had started to rain heavily. We took a different bus service from the one we had used on the way (a girl suggested it to us when she saw us come out of the entrance) and by 6pm we were already at the hotel calmly taking a refreshing shower.

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We didn’t manage to visit at least two-thirds of the area, so we think a minimum of three days would be necessary to do a full visit. Personally I was happy with our visit, though, mainly because I was able to “climb” a sacred Chinese mountain when it looked like I wouldn’t be able to 🙂

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Next stop, Zhengzhou to catch the sleeper train which would take us to Shanghai.

Important facts:
Panel contentOne-way bus to Shaolin Temple from the main bus station in Luoyang: 19 yuan per person. The journey takes 2 hours. Entry to the Shaolin Temple complex: 100 yuan Trolley bus: 15 yuan per trip. Return ticket for the cable car to climb Songshan Mountain: 80 yuan per person. Bus back from the same parking lot at the entrance to the Shaolin Temple complex: 20 yuan per person. The journey takes 1 and a half hours.

 

Ruth

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