Wu Tang Trip to China 2013

July 12- 26, 2013
When we landed in Beijing it was hot and muggy. It had been raining off and on in Beijing for days. That helped improve the air quality but it seemed like a sauna with all the high heat and humidity. We met up with the rest of our group at the Beijing airport early in the morning. From there we took a long bus ride to Qinhuangdao.

We did a little sightseeing in Qinhuangdao that day and ended up in a tea shop late at night. There we sat very ceremoniously sampling the finest first flush Wu Yi mountain tea shoots, perfectly steeped for the right amount of time at the right temperature. We turned in early despite all the tea since we had to be up promptly in the morning for the demonstration. The next day began with the Qinhuangdao Taiji demonstration and cultural exchange, several hours of martial arts demonstrations, speeches and exchanging of gifts. Master Yang demonstrated baji!

After lunch we went to the pearl market in Beidaihe. We started the next day sightseeing in Beidaihe at the Pigeons Nest seaside park where we walked along the boardwalk talking and taking pictures. Then it was off to the Olympic park which is filled with sculptures and statues commemorating the Olympic Games. There are 30 plaques, one for each of the Chinese athletes who won at the 2008 Olympic Games with their handprints, footprints and signatures. We also saw a bronze statue of our host's Taiji master doing cat stance.

We took pictures of Jia Zhongman, his student Zheng Jiaying (Star) and the bronze statue, three generations of Taiji martial artists. After lunch we got on the bus to Cangzhou. We were all impressed with the YiHe Hotel, our four star lodgings in Cangzhou. The lobby was beautiful, the restaurant was good and there was a laptop and free internet in the rooms! The next day we took the bus to Li Shuwen's fancy new gravesite memorial in the morning, visited Grandmaster Liu's childhood home and had lunch with the Cangzhou Baji Association President, Li Shuwen's great-granddaughter and some of Grandmaster Liu's descendants. Quite the baji luncheon!

After lunch it was off to Jinan. Jinan was smoggy and foggy. It had been raining a bit there too. We found Wang Bingwen at our hotel and he gave us all cowboy hats. I guess it was so he could keep track of all of us. We looked kind of silly but it was easy to spot the group with our hats on. We ate dinner with Master Wang and another Master Wang and went to bed. The next day we went to Ni Shan, the birthplace of Confucius and then to Qufu, to see Confucius Temple.

That night, we ate dinner in Jinan at Zhen Xiujun's restaurant. All the food was excellent! We had crispy fried eggplant, candied purple sweet potato, pineapple shrimp, sweet and sour fish, tofu, dumplings and more.

It had been raining off and on but we always seemed to get lucky and not get caught in it. The next day sightseeing in Jinan, we did get wet. We went to thousand Buddha mountain and explored 10,000 Buddha Cave. We ate lunch in the hotel where the waiters were wearing cowboy hats and carving off meat on spits. After lunch it was a long bus ride to Qingdao. We got into Qingdao late and after settling in and registering for the tournament, we went out with Mark and Abbey and got some noodles and Tsingtao Beer. The Qingdao Four Points Sheraton in Jiaonan that we stayed in was brand new, all of our rooms faced the ocean and the breakfast buffet was incredible. After a large breakfast we fond Master Wang and strolled to the sea.

Qingdao had just had a major algae bloom and there was green algae all over the beach. After lunch the tournament goers all got on buses for a field trip to Lang Ya Tai. This site was once visited by an emperor who launched an expedition here to seek the elixir of immortality. After dinner back at the hotel, we had a special treat. The famous calligrapher, Yue Zuoquan, offered to write some pieces for us in Master Yang's room. We were all very impressed with his artistry and all very thankful for the opportunity to get some of his calligraphy for our own. We didn't stay up too late because the next day was The 8th International Traditional Martial Arts Tournament in Qingdao, China. Promptly after the opening ceremony, the competition began. Anthony won three gold medals!

The next morning we took the bus to the train station in downtown Qingdao. The bullet train was nice, it was fast and smooth and had us in Beijing quickly. We had to take three taxis to the hotel and they had a race through the busy Beijing streets. We ate Peking duck for dinner and walked along the Wangfujing pedestrian mall.

In the morning we went to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City and then ate vegetarian for lunch. We ate at the Fu Hui Ci Yuan Vegetarian Restaurant, which was all decked out in Buddhist style and had a nice gift shop. The food was awesome! Everyone loved it, even the meat eaters and we ended up eating there again the next night. We went shopping in the afternoon. It was hot and sunny all day, one of the first days with no rain. The next day we started early so we could get to the Great Wall before the crowds. Good luck with that! It was packed when we got there. Another hot and sunny day, many of the ladies had umbrellas and some even wore high heels. High heels to climb the Great Wall? We didn't stay too long and went to one of the Ming Dynasty Tombs, the tomb of the Wanli Emperor. Our last day we saw the Temple of Heaven and then went shopping in the antique market and the silk market.