With Backpack

One World in One Lifetime

Another one out the window

Posted by Heliocentrism on May 6, 2009

February 8, 2009

All Pictures

The Gate to the Shaolin Temple

The Birth Place of Kung-Fu

Before heading off to bed, my one and only night in Zhengzhou (郑州), I asked the helpful English teacher how to get to the bus station. I told her that I wanted to see the Shaolin Temple. She drew me a little map on a napkin and told me to get there as early as possible.


The next day I woke up bright and early… and got lost. I had to ask a cop for directions. He started talking to some family that happened to be walking by and asked them where they were headed. It turned out that they were on their way to the bus station too. He told me to follow them.

I just wanted to go to the Shaolin Temple. Generally I don’t like temples. In Korea they are usually up steep mountains. People hike all day to see them. In Japan they’re everywhere and all basically look alike.

But, the Shaolin Temple was different. This temple was famous. This temple had fighting monks. This temple was the birth place of Kung-fu, or so some people think. So I wasn’t interested in the surrounding temples, just the Shaolin Temple.

Statue of a Monk at the Shaolin Temple

This Bus?

I thought I had bought a ticket for a long distance bus to Dengfeng (登封), the town where the Shaolin monks live. But it turned out to be a Chinese tour bus. All the information was in Chinese, so it did me no good. But at least I found transportation.

On the bus I sat next to a really sick kid. He threw up during the whole ride. His dad just kept changing the little plastic baggy that the boy threw up in.

“Here’s a new one, son. I’ll just toss this old one out the window.”

  • Note: Never travel long distances in China by motorbike or convertible.

I was completely amazed when at a lunch stop the boy’s parents forced him to eat all his noodles even though the boy didn’t want anything to eat. He went through four more baggies before we got to the Shaolin Temple.

Monk phone

Not Shaolin Yet

I don’t remember how many temples we stopped to see before getting to the Shaolin Temple. They all looked alike and people kept trying to get me to buy prayers and luck for my ancestors. I don’t even remember most of my uncles’ names much less my ancestors. I did pray for them, the ones whose names I knew, and my Mom and aunt Audrey. I could afford one or two prayers on their behalf.

Fighting monks


By the time we got to the Shaolin Temple I was T-I-R-E-D. I paid some vendor outside to watch my backpack while I went in to see some monks. I just walked into one of the little shops by the gate and got the vendor’s attention. I took off my backpack and mimed my handing the pack over to him. I did a two finger point to my eyes then moved my fingers to the backpack. Then I pointed to my change purse. The man nodded, took the pack, then pointed to the six on his clock. “Mister, I plan to be in bed by that time,” I said in my head. I smiled and he waved me off wishing me a good visit.

Walkway at the Shaolin Temple

I walked around, took pictures, and was amazed by the beauty of the landscape and the lack of cleanliness of the tourists. People who ate cup-noodles would just drop their garbage wherever they finished eating and moved on. It seemed like no one ever cleaned the street leading up to the temple. This was how most of China was in my eyes — beauty under garbage.

There were no monks performing at that time. I would have had to wait until evening to see the monks in action. I was tired, cold, hungry, and I just couldn’t look at the beautiful surrounds with piles of trash everywhere any longer.

I picked up my backpack way before the 6:00 pm deadline, skipped out on my tour group, and took a taxi to the next town of Louyang (洛阳).



How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, train, boat, or bus
  • Make sure to get a visa before going to China.
  • Visas to China are expensive for people of some nationalities.
  • Getting a Chinese visa is not a quick process. Apply as soon as you can.



There is a long list of websites that cannot be accessed while in China. Facebook and parts of Wikipedia are just two of them. As with everything, there are ways around it. There are sites that will let you get to Facebook and other sites for free for about 15 minutes, then you will have to pay.

My advice is to find a few of them and use them for free. Then use them again on a different computer. If you are in China for a long time, then you might want to invest in paying for the service. Ask friends living in China for the best deals.



*These books by Jung Chang are banned in China. But I highly recommend reading Mao: The Unknown Story before going to Beijing.

*These books by Jung Chang are banned in China. But I highly recommend reading Mao: The Unknown Story before going to Beijing.


  • If you want an internet cafe look for this (网吧) on a sign.

The Shaolin Temple

How to get there:

From Zhengzhou’s Long Distance Bus Station:

  • Take the bus to Dengfeng City which is approximately 15 kilometers away from the Shaolin Temple.
  • Get off at the Dengfeng East Long Distance Bus Station
  • Take Bus No. 1 which links the Dengfeng East Long Distance Bus Station to the Shaolin Temple

There are also tour buses that will go to the Shaolin Temple. The tours are usually in Chinese and stop at many, many temples.


  • (+86) 0371-6274-9305
  • (+86) 0371-6558-2651

(Why do the phone numbers have so many digits? I don’t know. But, they do.)



  • Editorial Office – shaolinchanlu@yahoo.com.cn



Click for Google maps

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