Wednesday 13 February 2008

Today was the first day of training with Shaking Cane Kungfu Master Linn who is teaching us a Shaking Crane pattern called Babbulian which challenges our Western muscular stiffness as it is all about suppleness and flexibility. Much to his surprise, the Wolf wasn’t nearly as at sea as he had feared…not that he was good or anything mind. We were put through our paces in horse stance for most of the time for three hours. We were in a room in the gigantic government sponsored sports hall and what began as rather a forbidding experience turned out to be fun even if it really tiring.

We spent the afternoon sight-seeing around Fuzhou with only two of us having any Chinese words but we managed to find our way to two of Fuzhou’s most famous buildings: The Black and White Pagodas. They are nearly a thousand years old and not over loved by the turbulent history that has surrounded them. It looks like they are about to be restored though by the new China.

The every day sights of Fuzhou were even more interesting.

The crowds in the early morning who fill the parks with their Taichi, ballroom dancing and Taichi sword patterns.

The wild horn-blowing traffic where bicycles, mopeds, posh cars, taxis and buses manoeuvre past each other with no apparent regard to regulations but with no obvious casualties.

The man who climbed over a bridge then clambered along some pipes over the river for nothing more than a good wash.

The old lady on her bicycle with her shopping and her Taichi sword blade sticking out in front of her.

I am definitely in China folks.

We did some more Kungfu practice this evening before going to a massage parlour (not one with naughty extras I promise). We lay on beds, three to a room, fully clothed (I promise) as three beautiful young Chinese women in traditional dress battered us with unbelievably strong fingers before quite literally walking all over us. Chinese massage is brilliant for all those stressed and over-used muscles.

The Wolf is now fully restored.

Fuzhou is a busy and developing city but unlike many busy international cities, its people seem friendly, happy and obviously relaxed. That is how they come across any way and we have seen to much friendliness and hospitality since we have been here that, so far, I have nothing to complain about…. even all that talk about the food. We have eaten superb, fresh tasting meals ever since arriving.

In a sentence, we are having a whale of a time.

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