July 2004

Jesus Christ.

That's all I could say to myself, when I saw the remnants of Shaolin village today.

Now, I've taken video of this place last year (not yet posted), when the remnants of the structures, all up and down the streets, were waiting to be carted away. And, when other buildings were in the process of being torn down. But, I never expected to see what I saw today. The Chinese are truly amazing.

From the Shaolin gate onward, all remants of buildings are gone. In their place, is grass and trees. Not just ordinary trees. Mature, full grown trees. Mature full grown trees that have been transplanted from god knows where else. And hills. Hills that were never there before. The Chinese made hills. Put fully grown mature trees on them. And grass. Oh, and nicely placed landscaped rocks and boulders.

It looks like a giant garden. For as far as the eye can see in the humid foggy atmosphere. All the way to the mountains.

I wasn't sure if I found it beautiful, or, appalling. It was "too perfect", too organized in a highly unorganized fashion. You could tell that god didn't make this.

But, it's what the abbot wants. A recreation of Shaolin, from the 1900's.

And to accomplish this, for the UNESCO bid, he's torn down almost 40 % of the temple. They're rebuilding the old and refurbished buildings. Even changing the plans of them.Apparently, someone had found Japanese photos of the temple from the pre-1928 burning, taken during one of the Japanese incursions in the early 1900's.

They're rebuilding the already refurbished and protected temple buildings, to look like the pictures. Talk about historical conservation.

I tend to think more of Disneyland.

I'm not sure if this is a historical preservation, or a recreation of what once was. It's beautiful. It's bizarre.

But it's effective. Tourism is nuts here. The Wushu Guan currently has three performance teams now. They rotate from day to day. Each day, five shows are done, at 1000, 1130, 1330, 1500, and 1600.

The Vegas showroom like performance hall, seats about 300 people. It was half full today. Each ticket costs 20 Yuan, which is about $2.50.

I figured, on an average day, they're taking in about three grand. Good days, six grand. Each team has about fifteen guys on it, each who make, about $100 to $200 a month.

You do the math.

The wushu guan has entered into an agreement with some large Singapore corporation to renovate the "new" wushu guan hotel, and tear down the "old" one. For those of you who don't know the difference, the "old" one was the building with the rats in the lobby. Both, rarely have running water. Or heat.

I've seen the architecture plans for the new environment. One massive waterfall to the left of the grand staircase. A brand new large five star hotel in the area that the current restaurant is in. And, a rebuilding of the two work out areas in the wushu guan, which, I've been told, has already been completed.

I had trouble figuring that out. The mirrors appeared to have been replaced. And, already broken. But, a stretch bar was installed, new paint applied, the floors repaired, and, the most beloved green carpet, cleaned.

I think. When I stepped on it, the dust didn't rise to envelop my feet.

God, I miss the old place.

It's all looking quite good actually. They moved the statues from the initial courtyard, and placed them in the fake workout area outside. They manicured that a bit, and made it more appealing. And, everything has been cleaned up. The newly renovated wushu guan is actually looking pretty good.

Tagou is still standing, as their new, incredibly ****ing massive complex is being completed. I have photos from last year, which I haven't posted, and videos. I'll take new ones this year. What they've built, has got to be the absolute largest single complex of buildings in Henan. It's incredible. The growth in Dengfeng, is outrageous. New buildings everywhere. New schools. Same old beloved single cylinder tuk tuks.

Thank god they don't change everything.

Photos and videos, when I return.