The photo that made me famous, hehehe.
As I returned from the mountaintop, a group of young monks passed near to me, on their way down as well. They were laughing and running--it reminded me of that National Geographic cover of so many years ago. Do you recall?
At that moment, I thought to myself: I am IN a National Geographic magazine... no, I am LIVING in National Geographic!
Then, the words popped into my head:
"I AM National GINAgraphic!"
... or I must have dreamt that photo long ago and it was a foretelling of what I would see in 2018, because I can't find it anywhere on the net!
post in progress
Post in progress
Filled with collector’s items, books, antiques, and all-things-Communist-Mao, this was a fabulous theme hotel. The building —and all the furnishings—date back to the period of Communist China, so the couch is creaky, the walls are thin, and the radiators keep the room nominally warm. The staff is excellent and one or two speak perfect English, but not the elder caretakers, so make sure you have your translator APP installed! I wish I had more time to peruse the multitude of books that overflow on the coffee table, hide the dust on the nightstand, and remain out of reach in a glass case above the door mantle. The ceilings are exceptionally high and formed by solid columns of beautiful, dark-stained timber. The stone lining the bathroom walls and floor seem Paleolithic in their shiny roughness. It takes 5 minutes for hot water to weakly stream from the sink tap late at night, but the shower has good pressure and the water warms quicker in the morning and during the day. I have only two suggestions for the managers and owner: provide tissues in the bedroom and better quality slippers. All hotels in China offer disposable slippers made of cloth; the better quality the hotel, the better the slippers of course. But this is not a cheap hotel, albeit an old build, theme-style guesthouse. But these slippers are of the poorest-quality paper and cardboard, which is ridiculous and uncomfortable on the cold hard timber and stone floors ins the rooms. Overall an absolutely charming 5-room guesthouse down a lovely hutong, a few kilometres east of the Forbidden City. I highly recommend staying here for a few days to enjoy the history and culture of the Red Capital.
What is a “Red Princess”?
More on the owner and scholar of the Red Capital Residence.
Red Capital Residence info: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/china/beijing/hotels/red-capital-residence/a/lod/bc5307ba-8239-4417-96ff-d01f40e25878/355905
Post in progress!
Yeah, it's that awesome!!
China's High Speed Train (HST or Bullet Train) is pretty dang nice! Well, at least Business Class seating is -- no surprise. Once again, a country in Asia has surpassed the US in almost every way technologically and especially in ability to think forward. The trains are new, clean, and on time! Makes Amtrak look like a coal-run clunker from the 19th Century! To be fair, the slower trains are older and much less pristine and full of the "masses"... but riding the HST is definitely a treat. In fact, all I want to do now is take off on the train every weekend!
The classes are somewhat reversed, as in First Class is actually less fancy than Business.
Post in progress!
Can't have Christmas without the local Chinese Santa, accompanied by Korean dinner with soju!
Post in progress
I never would have thought that some of the most authentic Korean food I would get (outside of Korea) would be at a small chain with a Tibetan name, in Xi'an, Shaanxi, China!
Can't seem to decide what to do with myself for Lunar New Year, so maybe ya'll can help me decide! We have 16 days off at the beginning of February and I will either fly to Rishikesh, India for a yoga and pancha karma recharge, or south to Yangshuo for a Taiji (Tai Chi) retreat.
In Rishikesh, their are several ashrams with which I am already affiliated! After much research, I learned there are ashrams founded by Swami Rama (like the one I lived at for one year in Pennsylvania, USA), Swami Satchidananda (his ashram in Virginia is what I call my home ashram now), Swami Sivananda (Satchidananda's master), and Maa Yoga Ashram (I found them when in Korea and have wanted to visit for years!). Maa is the only one that offers pancha karma retreats, which is what I could really use-- 14 days of detox and cleansing and re-set my physical self! maayogashram.com/ I am also drawn to Swami Rama's ashram, in that it is familiar. www.tripsavvy.com/top-rishikesh-ashrams-1539716
On the other hand is another ancient practice: Taijiquan. This retreat and training center is beautiful, and the teachers are award-winning and well-renowned, also multi-generational practitioners/teachers of martial artists. Plus, the center's head Laoshi (teacher) is a woman! longtoutaichi.com/
I am so interested in both! I may visit Long Tou Shan for a weekend to see if I like it enough for 2 weeks. It's only a 1 hr and 40 min. flight and less expensive overall (about $600 or so less than a trip to India, including retreat fees). I have been studying Taiji, QiKung (Qi Gong), and TCM (Traditional Herbal Medicine) for years now, and so the opportunity to learn this from a master is compelling!
Travel to India, of course, will be more expensive and with more headaches, but I believe well worth it. To meditate in sacred temples built by Shankaracharya in the 8th century, who is also the lineage founder of the Himalayan tradition, leading down an unbroken line to Swami Rama and now, Pandit Tigunait in Pennsylvania. This is the tradition in which I was initiated over a decade ago. And to worship on the shores of Mother Ganga. The power and energy and vibrations of the sacred spaces in Rishikesh really pull me. I could visit India during my longer summer vaca, but I am sure I will end up in the mountains of Kham or Yunnan again!