Asia | China | Shaanxi and Henan Provinces | Luoyang – Luoyang
Our only full day in Luoyang, so despite still feeling like shite, we set off to see the Shaolin Si the birthplace of Kung Fu. Once wed paid our entrance fee, there were eight attractions on the list, though some were more appealing than others. The bird forest, which boasted the opportunity to witness birds riding bikes and playing musical instruments, was given a wide berth while the Science Fiction Hall, a feeble simulator complete with sick-making rollercoaster video added little to the Shaolin cultural experience.
The Shifang Monastery, containing comical statues of the Shaolin monks throughout the ages is a cool place and the Shaolin temple is quite spectacular. Unfortunately, the powers that be seem to feel that stripping parts of the temple to turn them into souvenir shops and restaurants increases the tourists enjoyment of Shaolin, along with numerous loud speakers ironically blasting out naff instrumental versions of Silence is Golden. The most entertaining part of the day was been stopped by various Chinese tourists who were much more interested in taking pictures of us than of the temples! I think I could get used to being a celebrity!
We had hoped to take part in a Kung Fu lesson, but found that lessons are only offered to large tour groups. Probably for the best considering the chronic diarrhoea we were both suffering from. That wouldnt have been a pretty sight!!!! We did get to see some apprentices in action, including a very cute and very determined five-year-old repeating back flips until hed reached perfection. Seeing Shaolin takes a full day and if we hadnt have needed to be within dashing distance of the lav it wouldve been great to hike around the surrounding mountains. As it was, we headed back to Luoyang in search of a coffee shop serving western food, as seen in the Lonely Planet. Spag Bol has never tasted so good!