A year ago was my first day in the Fujian Province

A year ago today was my first full day in the Fujian province of China, I had spent the previous day travelling to China meeting Shawn in Shanghai airport, and travelling to the other side of Shanghai to fly to Fujian, to start the adventure of a lifetime. It got to a slow start being stuck in an airport for 9 hours will do that to you, I recall being upset at the time because the trip was originally only for 6 weeks and I thought I would never get a chance to see one of the greatest cities in the world. I didn’t know at the time that 6 weeks would become 2 months would become nearly 4months in China when I got to spend a week in Shanghai.

When we got to the Kung Fu school (Rising Taining Dragon),it was the middle of the night. And  it was a site to behold, it looked even tougher and more hardcore then I could of possible imagined, the sound of bugs was electric, Dragon images were posted on the walls, and the owner of the school was telling us about the training that some of the people do at the school.

When Shawn and me got into our room, after 24 hours of travelling together we became pretty close mates. Shawn panicked over a centipede bug in our room and a student walked by from the toilets to say hello. I was in deep shock it was Jimmy! A guy I use to train with back in England, a guy who has been doing martial arts since he was a kid. you don’t expect to meet a mate after travelling to the other side of the world in the middle of the mountains and rainforests. I picked him up in a bear hug and spun him around in my excitement.

Jimmy was able to tell us, that the centipede in our room could temporarily paralyze you for a few hours so we got rid of it quickly, and Jimmy gave us a tour in the dark, it is much more awe inspiring and frightening to see rows of weapons in the dark. After our nights sleep we met more of our fellow students, with more coming that day. We travelled to Taining, a 30 minute journey on the most crazy little bus you can imagine, packed like sardines in a tin and still packing more people, people from the village and local hamlets were going to the only town for hundreds of miles. It was amazing to see life in the middle of nowhere where they had as the students kept telling us “real food” and as the months roll become a refreshing change from the Schools daily lifestyle.

Jimmy’s roommate gave Shawn and me his protein powder as it only just arrived and him and Jimmy were leaving, and i have to tell you it was a god send. It was this protein powder that kept me functional over the 3 months of training, and I shared it with mates who needed it as we become our own community.

We had a meal in the local village a 20minute walk and we had a taste of some amazingly great Chinese food, we thought right then that it was the best food ever, and the students welcomed us with open arms and beer. I refused to drink it, thinking I was only there for serious training, but after the first intensive week I absolutely craved it the following weekend in Taining with my best friend Ronny.

The next day we walked past the village and went to the reservoir an hours walk, seeing our first preying mantis, and really experiencing the hot climate. When we got there, three Germans dubbed “Z’Germans” because everyone at the school thought they were super fit athletes were jumping off a concrete pier, narrowing missing the concrete foundation. Of course a pretty blonde in the group, and the thought of the Germans beating the British in terms of spirit and bravery got me in the way.

I hated heights but had to prove myself, like I did in New Zealand, of course some things never seem to change. Putting on my stripy rainbow trunks and not being in my best shape at the time was clearly not going to win me any favours with the blonde. But Vincent one of the Germans was pointing out where i should jump, and did a practice jump to show me where to land in the water to miss the concrete. I was hating myself more and more, and Shawn decided to film me. I crouched on top of the concrete wall and Vincent said “Now the best way to jump is to not think about jumping, but just jump” On Shawn’s camera when we re-watched it i jump the moment when Vincent said (Now the …”) and shouted “Jeronimo!!!!”  I recall time stopping half way through and me thinking this a bloody stupid idea, and then I speeded up and went through the water. Excitement roared through my lungs, followed by pain as i landed on my bum.

Walking back after our swim was a much longer walk as we were tired but at least this time it was down hill. We went into the village where we met two new students Joe (a very strange american) and Ronny, the moment I saw Ronny i knew he was going to be one of my best mates there, we hit it right off. We were all excited about tomorrow, Monday when our training begins, we assumed they would ease us into the regime. Boy were we wrong, the first week was the most intense experience of my life, i struggled horribly but i loved it, I was finally living the dream.

 

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A brief Synopsis of my time in China-its is only the beginning

I will probably write a few posts about my time in China, it has had a profound influence on me, from what started of as a 6 week adventure, quickly grew into a 4 month life changing experience. Luckily I saved alot of my weekly emails that I wrote for various people, so I can always use them as a guide to describe in further detail of China.

From training 5.30 in the morning till 5.30 in the evening, to partying at the weekends in Taining, to falling into a waterfall, jumping of a pier because I had to represent Britain against the mad Germans (great Blokes), to flying down a mountain side on top of a crazy log lorry driver, praying to every god that could exist that I will live, to having the craziest nightclub experience in San Ming. So many more things had happened, and I haven’t even mentioned the crazy things that happened in Beijing or Shanghai!

I loved the people I lived with in the Kung Fu school, I was heartbroken when I had to leave them, I loved meeting new people on my travels with Ronny, to meeting a Chinese Girl in Beijing, and spending time with her in Shanghai and Hangzhou.

I can’t forget seeing the terracotta army, seeing the shanghai skyline on a boat, and perhaps the most stilling moment for me, when Ronny and me went to the Great Wall, walked along the old section and just absorbed the view with an Israeli girl we looked after. It was the most peaceful experience of my life, Ronny said he had never known me to shut up for so long, ha ha. Only for it to be ruined by a bug Yank who acted like he owned mount Everest. But that’s another story