Someone Tried to Steal my Wallet

Someone tried to steal my wallet, and succeed.

People’s Republic of China just had it’s birthday on 10/1, so there is an eight day holiday from 10/1-10/8, and as a result there are literally hundreds of thousands of tourists at my “new home”. Because we haven’t seen any people other than ourselves in awhile, I took my fellow trainees down to the temple to people watch. We saw man, woman, children, elders, and I was like “people, wow! haven’t seen you guys in awhile”.

But with people comes trouble, and when I was squeezing through the masses, I felt someone grab my upper thigh (where I kept my wallet) and quickly ran away. I don’t know if it’s cause I watched too many parkour videos, but I was like “you are not getting away with it” and quickly sprinted away in pursuit into a cluster of people with my homies behind. Sadly, I could only keep up with the thief but never over take him. But honestly, I was thinking “if you are so fast, why not go run track, why steal from me.”

I didn’t have any money in my wallet except a “2 Dollar bill” I kept cause it was cool. But I did have a post-it note that my buddy gave to me in 7th grade, a piece of paper on which someone wrote a list of my “faults and personality problems”, and a copy of my driver’s license and green card, so I had to get my wallet back. Knowing I couldn’t catch this guy, I started screaming to him “hey, I don’t have any money in it”, “give me back my wallet, you ____”. Apparently he heard me and check my wallet, and after seeing that it had no cash resorted to throwing my wallet in a ditch. Thank god the ditch wasn’t wet, but the dude got away. If I ever see that guy around here, or his blue jacket, I am going to ask him some questions.

I need to train even harder now, if I can’t even catch up to a petty thief, how I can call myself a “disciple of the Shaolin Temple”.

There Are Lots to Do Here….

Been talking to my friends back in the States, and they all mentioned this common theme that “there is lots to do in college” as a Freshman. Well guess what? There are lots to do here at the temple too. Allow me to explain.

On any given day, we can sit down and look at a tree from the East, West, North, and the South. We can look at the sky, then look at the ground. We can go climb a mountain, then look at the sky above, and the ground below. We can use ourselves as live baits to capture insects in the bushes, we can even go take a dip in the waterfall that currently has no water. We can kick a bag, punch a bag, knee a bag, hug a bag, kiss a bag, for an hour or ten hours. We can practice the same kick a thousand times, or practice a thousands kicks once. We can walk for 5 hours without seeing anyone, I bet you can’t do that in college?

Living here might be extremely “boring”, if you are  judging from society’s current opinions on what’s “boring” and what’s “fun”. But personally for me, I see it as more of a peaceful and quiet respite, something that is rare and hard to come by in this busy and fast-pace life of today. I see it as an experience within my personality that will be a blessing over my life and help me cope with stress later on.

Shaolin Penguin Fist

Instead of actually practicing our routines today, we spent the whole day sprinting up and down our mountain. Sometimes with one leg, some times with no legs,  a couple of times with tornado twists, and the rest were just all out runs for nothing but pride. Seeing that we were fatigued out of our minds, after only 3 hrs, coach decided to give us a break, so he said “go run 10km, then you are down”.

We were all so thrilled to hear that, so we smiled and skipped all the way down the mountain towards the trails, and on our way there we drove by the training house of the martial monks. At the time they were doing some weird form that none of us has ever seen before, so being the curious and brave (cause we would be beaten if we were caught there) individual that I am, I decided to stay awhile and try to learn it.

But when we back and I started demonstrating the what I saw, it ended up looking like “Happy Feet” meets “Karate Kid”. It was pretty weird, but had elements of practically such as the shifting from side to side with hands by your side, that could actually be used in a real right to distracted your opponents…if you were fighting 5 yr olds. We ended up naming it the “Shaolin Penguin Fist. I am pretty sure I am the first to create a penguin style, but I could be wrong

Today I rescued some wine, it was trapped in a bottle.

I just found out that we DO NOT have heating here in the winter. And it’s only October and the morning and evening temperature are already around the low 40s. Considering that we live nestled between two mountains, the wind isn’t our best friend either.So as the not-so-creative and selectively-eco friendly person that I am, I devised a plan to keep warm without burning anything and creating too much green house emissions.

Drink extremely high alcohol percentage Chinese Rice wine before I go out and do my morning runs and climbs at 5:00am. I am talking about like 65% alcohol or higher, but just half a cup before and after, not too much. Just enough to generate heat all the way from head to toe. I have asked my grandma to open up her 30 yrs old wine cellar and and send me some vintage “spirits” that she saved before the government started managing spirits productions in the 80s. Cause as we approach November and December it’s going to be a whole new experience for me, because I have never trained in below zero degrees Fahrenheit weather.

Let’s see if this works.

Jaden’s Teacher

So we were just training outside on the mountain behind the temple one day, when this very young looking monk comes prancing up the steep slope like it was downhill. When we train, it’s usually just me, the fat kid, the Taiwanese drug dealer, our class leader, and coach, we never really get visitors, so this was a pleasant surprise.

He starting talking to coach and us talkative folks decided to stop training and join in on the conversation. Turns out he was one of Jaden Smith’s coaches who helped prep him for the movie “Karate Kid” along with Jackie Chan. He was telling us that they actually put A LOT of work into training Jaden, training him for a good half a year before filming. He told us how cocky Jaden was at first, and how his room would always be so messy. And Jackie and the other coaches would always be on him about being organized and responsible.

He said their training was pretty intense, around 10 hrs a day, much like the training we do everyday, except it was 4 teachers for one student, not four students to one teacher like us. But their coaches would often discipline Jaden, cause he would easily get distracted, I thought that was good to not to give stars special treatment. Cause discipline is an important part of training. I get whipped whenever coach sees fit to, but it helps later on when we get into real physical altercations, to be able to take hits from opponents without falling or losing balance.

I am lucky to be able to meet and train with these awesome people.

I Caught a Fly With My Chopstick!

When I first saw this “catching a fly with chopsticks” in those 90s kung-fu movies, I was like this is total BS and there is no way you can just whip your wrist and catch one with your chopsticks. And as a stubborn individual, I had held on to that very belief until today.

Today was just an ordinary Sunday, I was eating lunch outside next to the forest, in hopes of some shade so I don’t get too dark. I don’t know if it was the food or me that was so attractive today, but suddenly all of these bugs showed up (mosquitoes, flies, lady bugs, beetles, etc.). I mean there is A LOT of bugs here to begin with, but today was extra the abundance of insects. Being hotheaded, I was couldn’t hold it in anymore, so I swung my chopsticks around hoping they would stay away from my food, and guess what got stuck in between my chopsticks? A green pinkie sized insect, that I call a “fly” cause I feel asleep during Bio lectures.

Normally in the movies this would be when they protagonist would proceed to eat the insect, but not me. Though I am a man of few showers, I care about my dietary healthy. Though insects are rich in proteins, my subconscious would not let me be Bear Grylls, and told me to go and wash my chopsticks along with the insect on it.

I guess you never really believe some things till it happens to you, maybe trolls do exist?

Under the Moonlight

Each night, under the steady watch of the moonlight, we conduct our evening training sessions in the silence of the dark. To conserve electricity for heating in the upcoming winter, we turn the lights off at night. Leaving us alone with only the moonlight to illuminate our every move.

Whenever I see the round and luminous moon, my thoughts travel to those who are dear to me; my parents who are thousands of miles away and my good friends who are scatter across top universities all over the States. As the Lunar Festival approaches and as the moon gets rounder, my sentiments  amplify. I got a call from my mother yesterday while I was training at night, telling me that the whole fambam was over for the annual Lunar Night Dinner, and that they miss my “annoying cockiness” very much. I told them that I was training alone outside at night eating my moon-cakes, like a boss, and that I too miss them very much.

But no matter where I am in the world or who I am with, every time I look up at the starry sky and feel the scintillating moonlight, I know that I am not alone. Because somewhere out there are my family and loved ones and they too can enjoy the same beautiful moonlight that I am enjoying.

I hope those who have family and friends next to them can learn to treasure them when they are there and keep them in your heart and prayers when they are not.

Raindrops Are Falling on Head..

For the past wk or so, every day, every moment, consists of  “raindrops gently falling on my head”. As a long term resident of Socal, being pampered by the everlasting sunshine made me forget how beautiful the rain can be. Ok, at first I was like “WTF, I want to go back to sleep”, but after a few hrs or so, I started to enjoy the wetness.

I guess the coolest thing about this “constant rain”, is that whenever I train, steam comes out of every part of my body due to the difference in temperature and this really helps me focus my chi to my mid-section because it is actually visible. The happiest guy here would be the Taiwanese dude from Seattle, dude says “hey this is considered warm in Seattle”, and I was all like “that’s why the Sonics left for OKC”.

In a few weeks or so, the raindrops will be replaced by snowflakes, the only constant that remains with the change of seasons is the intensity and the amount of training. We will still wake up about 30 mins before the chickens do, and we will still run the same amount if not more, no matter how slippery or icy the ground gets. I like consistency though, i guess it’s cause I am a boring person.

I can finally speak English again

After weeks of pretending I can speak Chinese really well (which I can, just not as well as I pretend to be), life has finally given me an opportunity to speak English again. Other than “frog jumping” up mountains, getting punched in the face, and running “i don’t know how many” miles into the wilderness, I have managed to carve out enough time in one day to start English classes for my fellow “trainees’ at 6:00am, right after morning practice.

On top of that, we received  a new Taiwanese dude from Seattle, who use to be (and continues to be when possible and legal)a  drug dealer, tattoo artist, and a cancer survivor. He is one of the more interesting people I have ever met. Before meeting him, I never knew they had drug dealers or even a demand for drugs in Seattle (smh @Seattle), and he proved me ignorant in that part. He works in the Hostel business which has allowed him to travel to and sell drugs in over 30 countries before the age of 20, now that’s something we can all learn from, the power of the Hostel industry in allowing youth to travel cheaply and the prevalence of the drug industry. But honestly, the dude is really cool. He wants to better his health by training here, because of the pains he suffered while battling cancer, and that’s really admirable. I think I will learn lots from him, good and bad. What an unexpected, but welcomed guest.

Also, I recently befriended a French kid, who is the same age I am. And other than talking about how his countless ex(s) and how he lost his virginity at “age 13” (which I did questioned, until he revealed he was from Paris), I have actually learned quite a lot about French culture and weed from him. It’s really refreshing when you find out just how little you know, but to know that is already a big step in some direction.

But finally, I can use English again, for something other than cussing out Chinese peeps who don’t understand a word I am saying.

Every Story Has a Fat Kid…… does mine

Almost every story has an “slightly overstuffed” character in it.  And now, my story is no different.

I have been living alone in my “dormitory” for the first 10 days, until suddenly out of the blue came a “slightly overstuffed” shadow, who turns out to be my new roommate and the missing “fat kid” in my story. He is 16, my height, about 40 lbs more “stuff” than me, and has the behavior pattern of a 12 yr old, which is why he was oft picked on by kids at the Martial Arts School, so his parents transferred him over here, to train in the mountains, surrounded by trees instead of people.

Ever since his arrival, there has been more laughter and tragedy than all of the first two weeks combined. Most of the time it is laughing “at” him, but occasionally comes a moment where we laugh “with” him, which is wonderful for all of us. Honestly, the dude is not that fat, but because he eats ALL day and pretends to be injured every time we train, it is inevitable that his stomach retains a lot of the energy he consumes, thus blowing his weight up and out of proportions with his body.

I feel extremely lucky and honored to have him here, for comic relief doing training of course, not so much as a roommate, cause most of the time I end up being “maid”, “mom”, “alarmclock”, “washing machine”, and “hater” all at the same time. It’s actually quite the experience.

But looks like my story has just found its very own “fat kid”