Article Index

Ever wonder what the process was for training in Shaolin? Well, it's different for everyone; people come from various countries and circumstances, and things can be distinctly incomparable at times. But, overall, the questions tend to be similar. Over the years I've helped many people find good training opportunities in Shaolin, and over the years, generally, it's the same questions and answers. I've created some areas in the FAQ sections to help answer those questions, but I thought that if I posted a thread of questions and answers that was fairly within limits of the norm of what I get over the years, it might prove helpful to those of you who want to make the journey. So, I've put together some messaging with one of the latest members of our community who has made the trip to Shaolin to train. The thread is rather extensive, but within it lies answers to some commonly asked questions, and some pearls of wisdom that all travelers to Shaolin really need to know.

The initial question was, as usual, "How much does it cost to train in Shaolin?" The question was more specifically asked about Shi De Cheng's school in Dengfeng, right outside of the Shaolin temple area. The comments in italics are my responses, the type in normal font are the potential student's questions.


Dear doc
I'm interested in training with Shi De Cheng at his school in China later this year. Can you give me more information? How do I do this? Sorry to bother you!
xxxxx



Not a problem. Current prices on in his thread in Shaolin Gong Fu schools, but I need to contact him about getting you a better price. Price includes everything. Pickup from airport not a problem; you need to arrange your flights to get to ZHENGZHOU. Good choice to pay as you go, and to decide to stay as long as you continue liking it. Early March also good, though will be a bit cold, end of March better. we have plenty of time to put this together.I'll try to get updated prices.
doc

Just got response. 900 Euros' a month for training, food, living place. as for training, you'll get basics, one or two forms (or more) and if you want sanda, no doubt that could be added.  Decheng will be with me in March, in Thailand.

More later.
doc



Dear doc
Thanks for answering those questions.

The one thing I would like to follow up concerns the price.  Given the current exchange rate, 900 euros translates to somewhere in the area of just over AUD 1,800 for me. I have to say I was blown away when I received your quote; realising that this would significantly alter my travel/training plans for the next twelve months I plan to spend in China.

In truth I was expecting (read: hoping) for something  around the AUD 900-1000 (450-500 euros approximately) mark per month max.

It is fair to say that as far as having any idea about training fees I have none. I don't know if this quoted amount is standard, or I can do better elsewhere but under present circumstances, I'm sorry to say, I will have to decline this offer.  

I've been saving for the trip for 9 months; money that I've worked hard to come by and which was set to last me my twelve months of training if I was to pursue that option.  I don't tell you this to renogotiate and haggle you down or even evoke some sympathetic response but so you can try to understand why I am not prepared to spend this much on my experience.

Once again I don't know if I am being realistic or unreasonable. I am willing to negotiate, though if DeCheng is firm on this amount I will need to look elsewhere for a school. No hard feelings.

I don't mean to stuff you around Doc, I'm very grateful for all you've done on my behalf already. Your input on this will be eagerly awaited.

Looking forward to your reply
xxxxx



Fully understand. I don't know what a Euro or an Aus D is; I just think in Baht and dollars. But now that I look at it, 900 Euros is about 1100 USD. Which is about 35 dollars a day. Considering that price includes training, food and housing, it's cheaper than what it was years ago, and much cheaper than the wushu guan, which is charging (my price) 65 USD a day.

In the nineties, when I trained at the wushu guan, the fees were anywhere from sixty to a hundred dollars a day (those bastard chinese...). I paid 25. This was back in 1997.

Let's face it. Prices have gone up. And they've gone up a lot, especially over the last few years, with everything tourist related in China. Decheng's price is not a bad one, but I understand that you're under the constraints of a budget.

You might want to consider not doing a year, regardless of where you go. As I've said repeatedly in the site, almost everyone I've ever met has not liked it for long periods of time. Quite honestly, there are better things to do with your life than spend an entire year in Dengfeng.  I've spent two years there, spread out over a long period of time (month or two at a time).

Lots to consider. I'll see if I can get that price knocked down for you even more,, but I can't promise anything. I have no control over these things.
doc



Hi Doc,

Firstly, I just wanted to know a little about the curriculum that is set for the foreigners; the Shi DeCheng website is succint to say the least! Personally, I am up for trying a little of everything (forms, weapons, qigong, etc) however I would really like to focus on the sparring/self-defence/application aspect of the kung fu training. Is it possible to have some influence about what I am taught? Will this reflect poorly upon me (and ultimately my training) if I make a suggestion about what I would prefer to learn?

You can pretty much kind of direct what kind of training you'd like to get. Once you get to know them. Shouldn't be a problem.

Lastly, just some details about DeCheng's school. How many students does the school hold? and is there internet access within the school or will I need to find an internet cafe in Dengfeng?

Not sure how many foreigners will be there in March. Varies all the time. Expect it to be cold though. As for domestic students, you won't be training iwth them anyway, and those numbers vary all the time.

Another thing was buying presents for the hosts of my new home, whom should I buy for (the school, Decheng, the coaches, students?) and can you recommend an appropriate present/s.

Decheng will not be there, he will be with me in Thailand. Don't bother with presents.

And as far as accomodation is concerned, are the foreigner rooms at the school liveable? I saw you wrote they contain a hot shower and Western toilet. Is there anything I should know about staying on site as opposed to the hotel?

The latest school has hot water and western toilets. It is livable, but it will be cold. don't expect heat. you can buy a portable electric heater in the nearby store, and use that to keep your room comfy. Wasn't an option when I lived there many years ago in Shaolin, shouldn't be too bad now.

As of yet I haven't booked flights which I will do early into the new year, along with the visa and some other necessities like travel insurance. I will let you know as soon as I have the details.

make sure you have emergency evacuation insurance.
Read the site.

Any other information that you think may be helpful will be greatly appreciated.

Read the site. There's a lot of information in it. You just have to find it.
Any other questions, let me know.
doc



This is something I will need some time to think about. Irrespective of what comes of this, March will still be my departure date and I intend to study at a kung fu school somewhere when I arrive.

I will be toying with the idea of another school, purely for financial reasons. I would appreciate you talking to DeCheng however (and I'm sure this goes without saying) there's no need to burn any bridges for my sake, one way or another this will work itself out.

Regarding living in Dengfeng for twelve months; I'm sure you're more informed than I about what exactly an undertaking like this entails. And you're right, I probably won't want to stay (or last) that period of time, but it would be reassuring to know that I at least have that option available; totally unfathomable on my budget given the current economic situation.

I will be looking at some other schools in the Dengfeng area, DeYang, Tagou and most others mentioned thoughout the site. Do you think I can do better elsewhere or is DeCheng's price the best I am likely to come by?

If you can help with this process that would be fantastic; I'll understand for whatever reason otherwise if you'd rather not, like I said, you've been more than kind with your help, which I am greatly thankful for.

Meanwhile lots to consider.
xxxx


You'll hate Deyang's school. I think Deyang is great, but the school is a shithole, and you probably won't get to train with Deyang much, if at all. Nor will you learn traditional stuff; his school is leaning towards dance wushu. Read the site. I even have video of it from years ago.

Decheng's school confirms 35 USD per day. I have asked them about rates if you stay one year.

Rates I got from him last year state "greater than 60 days, 26 USD per day. That's kind of hard to beat.

Tagou is huge. If you don't mind being with twenty thousand little Chinese kids, the training is good. i don't know the cost; I have nothing to do with them, nor do I know anyone there.

Other options come and go in Dengfeng like the wind. Keeping track of all of these schools is impossible; they open and close all the time. New "masters" arrive daily. I once tried to put it all together, but it really was impossible. Going into one of these schools cold will leave you disappointed: the Chinese are Chinese, (mainland), and they are brutal money hungry bastards most of the time. you have to be careful.

Read the site. Read the site. There is a lot of information in it. twelve years of people's experiences over there. Get a feel for what you're getting into. One day I'll get the Forum Archive back up and running, there was a lot of training information there. Going there cold to look for a school can get you into a lot of trouble.

My suggestion: go to Decheng's first. For a month or two. If two, you get the lower rate. They will not screw you; I am too close to them. While you are there, explore other options. Carefully.

Going without knowing anyone, and plunking yourself down in some school, paying for a year, will lead you into disaster.
doc


USD 26 per day is a price I am happy to settle for, even if that means I will be paying for two months at a time. Thankfully, the exchange rate is significantly better in US dollars than euros. This is a compromise I am willing to make, that is, if DeCheng's prices from 2007 are still accurate.

I have heard nothing but positive feedback from DeCheng's foreign students and from watching your videos of different schools, it was my first preference. If you can arrange this price I am perfectly happy to commit to this.

The training component is something I want to get organised as soon as possible; before I leave the country. I could just see negotiating on the doorstep becoming a huge disaster, not preferable at all.

I suppose all I can do is wait for your response and see what's on offer. As always, many thanks.

Also, one more totally unrelated question: do you think I will need a sleeping bag? you mentioned a heater, but as far as living the Spartan lifestyle, is it a comfortable enough arrangement with the bedding/linen supplied. Those walls in the videos look paper thin as do the windows, not really the ideal insulators for cold weather.
xxxxxx


sleeping bag is a good idea, march is cold.
waiting for better price from china. I'll let you know.
have you investigated visas yet?
doc



I know what I'm after when it comes to the visas, the 12 month, multi-entry tourist (L) visa seemed like the most sensible and cost effective way to go. It's one of the cheaper necessities of the trip, however (and I have looked all over the Chinese-Australian consulate's site to no avail) there are certain 'rumours' I've read on various travel sites about gaining entry. For example, mandatory HIV tests to acquire 12+ month visas and travellers being denied access to the country without return airfares.

The test (if there's any truth in this) is not so much a worry as a bother; and if need be I can buy a return ticket, but would rather go one way which gives me a little bit more flexibility.

You said you'll be in Thailand in March, will you be training or visiting Dengfeng on your trip?
xxxxx


The return trip ticket is a NECESSITY visa wise for many Asian countries. Don't expect to go with a one way ticket. Purchase a round trip (they are cheaper) and make it valid for one year.

I'm going to Thailand because it is my second home. Decheng is coming to visit as he visits me every year; this time is special because my wife and I are having a child. He wants to be there for that. We'll train, of course. he might be looking at it for a long term thing also, as I have a school in Phuket that teaches Muay Thai and occasionally gong fu. I think he's interested in other options as he gets older, and one option I've always presented to him was doing somethign together (again)
doc


Thanks for the advice, I'll make sure I book a return flight! Need to make a call to the consulate before I pay them a visit to check a couple of other unanswered queries.

Sounds like you've got a busy couple of months ahead of you. And also from what you've described, a very rich friendship with DeCheng. I wish you all the best with the wife and baby for the year to come, sounds like they're safe hands. Though I have to say I'm left with a very alternate impression from the bachelor lifestyle shown on the Shaolin Ulysses doco.

Does Decheng do a lot of travelling abroad? and when he is away who takes his classes? What I'm getting at is that I'm curious to know if DeCheng take classes at his school? and if so, does he also teach the foreigners?

It's funny you mention Muay Thai, it was something that I was considering doing during the Winter months when the humidity and heat are considerably cooler. But one thing at a time!

I'm sorry you won't be coming to Dengfeng, it would have been great to meet you in person; the internet's one thing but no substitute for the real deal.

Be in touch
xxxxx


Don't believe what you see on TV, LOL.... Especially that shit documentary. Remind me to write about that sometime.

Decheng and I are like family. We are very close. We spend every winter together, and this year, he changed his plans so he can spend time with the baby. he's a character, one that you most definitely have to meet one day.

If you want to train in MT, come on down to Phuket and work out for a month. We'll take care of you.
doc

Agreed. I think I must have ordered and rented every Shaolin doco I could find on the subject and generally I would watch the lot including every special feature on the disc; this was the exception. Don't get me wrong, I think what you had to say about the training and the temple was relevant and articulate (apart from the hooters girl one-liner haha) but on the whole not anything I would be recommending anytime soon.

How long will you be spending in Thailand? I don't suppose you be out that way in October? Do you stay at your school when you're in the country?

There is a very good chance I will be in Thailand at some point next year, to catch up with my family. I think a month or so of Muay Thai training could be a realistic possibility and I will let you know if I'm inclined to do so. I briefly checked out a few MT training camp sites, they certainly have a different look to them compared to the gong fu schools in Dengfeng; the price is also encouraging (as well as the Thai women!).

Regardless of what happens with gong fu schools, my plans in China, etc I will keep you updated and write a journal for the site. I've got some numbers for Tagou which are reasonable, but as I said, it's not where my preferences lie.

If I do end up at DeCheng's and stay for a couple of months, is there a possibility he will be back in China teaching?
xxxxx


Decheng should be back sometime, however, he does travel to Europe in the spring, tending to be in China during the summer months when foreign training tends to be higher.

I tend to spend half the year in Thailand, half in Las Vegas. October is a horrible month to be in Thailand; monsoon season is harsh. Avoid Sept and October here.
doc



Thank you Doc, I know it's been quite a process but it's a huge relief to see my dollars going that little bit further. You can safely tell DeCheng that he can confirm my stay in xxxxx 2009 (that is of course if he'll have me!). I'll give you all the exact details as soon as I have them.

Just a question about how this all comes together. Do I pay upon arrival at the school or prior to arriving? and in USD or the equivalent amount in yuan? And I imagine from then on I pay every two months for another two months of fees in advance?

Also, I just wanted to know if the rooms I will be staying in are the ones shown in your 'Decheng school 1' video, is that correct? and will I need to lock up my stuff and keep an eye on the students lest I find my belongings disappear never to return?
xxxxx


not sure if you should pay all at once, i don't recommend doing that. pay them every two months.

Decheng will be there in March, he's coming to visit me in Feb. I think...

pictures are not what the new place look like. I dont think I took pictures of the new place. it's not bad. you'll be comfortable there.
doc


So now that a price has been agreed upon, is this now finalised? Apart from the specifics of my arrival can I relax in the knowledge DeCheng will accept me into his school? Furthermore, are you still happy to be my go-between me and DeCheng or should I be asking this of him by correspondence?

It's great to hear to DeCheng will be there in March. If that then is the case, I feel obliged to give some gift when I get there, do you have any suggestions?

Just one more question from the last message, will I need to be protective of my luggage and possessions while at the school? is there any worry within the school that my things won't be safe left alone?

Thanks,
xxxxx


I see no reason why there would be changes. You should be fine for March. No guarantees he'll be there, he may still be in thailand iwht me, but who knows.
Don't worry about me. Don't worry about a gift for him. Start looking into visa issues.
be careful of valuables when you travel ANYWHERE in China, or asia for that matter.
doc



Exciting day, booked the flights so I can give the details of the first part of my travel plans.

xxxxxx - Leave xxxxxx for Singapore
xxxxxx - Leave Singapore for Beijing  arrive 7-8am

From here I will catch the train out to Zhengzhou and will take a taxi to DeCheng's school (this has not been aranged yet however). I had thought about staying briefly in Beijing for a few nights but am still undecided. Most likely I will directly take the train which will be about 7 hrs, depending on what train I get, I would expect then I would arrive either on the 19th or 20th of xxxxxx.

Do you have any experience of the Chinese railway system? worth investing in a soft sleeper?

also, could you ask on my behalf how it is I am expected to pay for my tuition/lodgings/food, that is, either in cash or account transfer, in USD or equivalent yuan?

Tomorrow I am applying for my visa as well, so the essentials of my trip (apart from travel insurance) will be organised.
xxxx


take sleeper first class overnight and sleep. hard seat third class is a nightmare.

you won't get a better visa than that at this point. deal with the extended visa issue when you get there, the school will help. as for money, pay in USD, do not pay the entire year up front, pay every month.

I might be able to have a friend get you at airport, show you around, and get you to train station. you might have to throw him some money, not much, for his time. at least you'll get around safely.

I might be able to have Decheng's school pick you up at train station, again, maybe for a small fee. would be better than dealing with taxi drivers.
doc


Wear what you want. bring warm clothes, it's cold in March.

email me a scan of the front page of your passport.  email me name and address and phone numbers of your parents. Also your consulate information.

If there is an emergency, I need to be able to get a hold of someone. doc at russbo.com   let me know your exact travel plans so I can get them to pick you up.

do you need help in Beijing?

doc



Hey Doc,

Getting my clothes sorted at the moment and I just wanted to run something past you. When I get to DeCheng's school, can I/do I buy a uniform? Watching the Fight Quest video I saw the foreigners were given training apparel, am I expected to wear this (which is preferable) or should I stock up on training t's? I have everything else but I'm wondering if I should spend a couple hundred dollars on upper body wear for training when I could buy it with the DeCheng seal instead (at probably half the price as well).

This is my plan for my arrival in Beijing:

7:20 am arrive at Beijing airport on 19th xxxxx
Get myself to the train station (need to find where this is)

Train leaves at 2:20 pm for Zhengzhou Arrive at Zhengzhou train station at 9:10 pm

Get to DeCheng's school or alternatively find cheap accomodation for the night and go to school next morning

Currently my passport is still with the Chinese consulate because I haven't found an opportunity to get it (along with my visa), so my train ticket is not confirmed. By next week this should be dealt with. Hopefully (and most likely) to correspond with the itinerary above. I will keep you updated on the developments.

When I get a hold of my passport I'll email you my details, family contact info, etc altogether.

I'd still like to take advantage of your offer if it's still a possibility; to get from the airport to the station. I'm more than happy to give your contact a reasonable fee for his trouble.

Two further questions.

Am I able to draw money from the bank at Dengfeng? or is that only possible in Zhengzhou? because of the logistics of my proposed arrival I won't be able to stop by a major bank in Zhengzhou at that time.

Secondly, in regards to last pm, even though I can wear whatever, do they have uniforms that I can buy at the school? foreigner-sized uniforms?

Thanks Doc, be in touch soon

xxxxx



depends upon how big you are. he has sweatsuits for his students, you can get one, but quite honestly, they're more for entertainment value than anything else. bring comfortable pants and t shirts, sweats for March (and cold weather wear, it's COLD in march)

I'll see if Jackey can get you at the airport and get you to the station.

Decheng's people should be able to pick you up at night. better than trying to find a place to stay in zhengzhou that late at night, and not knowing hte language. dont want you to get into any sort of trouble. I'd feel better if I had people moving you every step of the way

ATM willwork in dengfeng at bank of china. read Shaolin fAQ area. Make sure it is well established bank that you have atm with. with STAR and PLUS.

doc


Sent you through those details.

As I said, got the visa now and just need to get my travel insurance sorted; but there's still five weeks to work that out.

I haven't confirmed the railway ticket yet, it would appear the Chinese rail authority don't issue in advance beyond 4-6 days before the date of departure. I've been looking at travel agents who'll send the ticket to a hotel but I won't be stopping over in Beijing long enough to warrant the stay. I will have this issue dealt with by the end of the week and can then give you my concrete itinerary for mainland China.

I'll be in touch soon,
xxxxx

ok, i have contacted my friend Jackey in Beijing. He might be able to get you the railway ticket, if I hear back from him.,..

doc



Thanks for the email, I have just sent him a message back. I asked Jackey if he could help me with securing a train ticket and help with the pick up from Beijing airport to the train station.

I have written that I would transfer the funds for the ticket beforehand and that I would give him a fee for his trouble.
That said, what is a reasonable amount of money to give him?

Thanks for your help and pulling the strings on my behalf. I will let you know the developments.

Thank you
xxx

you should pay his taxi fair from beijing to the airport, and your taxi from airport to train station, and his taxi back home again. Plus maybe twenty or thirty dollars for his time. I think that's fair. up to you.
He will take good care of you.
There are a few train stations in Bejing, you don't want to end up at the wrong one. shame you can't spend time there, fascinating city.
doc


I'm sure there are many interesting things to see in Beijing, maybe an adventure saved for later in the year. I think Lhasa is higher up on the priority list though.

Just worked out an arrangement, he will pick me up in a friends car, charge me about the same as the cab fare and also organise the ticket. He's generously said he will call DeCheng's to confirm I'm on the train as well.

Thankyou for getting in contact with him, he seems like a great guy. Look forward to meeting him.

Be in touch soon, only five weeks left
xxx


Jackey will take good care of you. make sure you keep his cell phone number. bring a cell phone with you that has international roaming, one that is unlocked, so you can get a new sim card in china. or,just buy a new unlocked phone in china and get a sim card there. also send me your train information so I can make sure decheng's school gets you
doc


Hello Doc,

Been a while since I've been in touch so I just wanted to keep you 'in the loop'. I just emailed Jackey about the train details, he should respond sometime in the next few days and I will message you as soon as I have them.

I am at present busy training, catching up with friends and family and eating very well (not conducive to training), and of course, finalising the remainding components of the trip.

I do have a question for you if you'd care to answer. I'm sorting through insurance plans at the moment trying to find a policy which covers the necessities but is comprehensive enough to meet my needs. However, I am struggling to find an insurance provider that will cover me for 'martial arts', I've been told by the provider my family usually uses that it is a grey area. Thus, no garuanteed coverage.
So then, who do you use when making the Shaolin trips? or could you recommend a provider that will cover me for the martial training? One company only catered only for students learning Judo, no other martial art.

Many thanks
xxxxx

My American Express Platinum card gives me medical evacuation insurance. You can buy medical evacuation insurance, and a regular worldwide health policy from companys like William Russell out of England, etc. your insurance agent in Australia should be able to find one. As for martial arts, I don't think it's important to even mention that. I'm more concerned about you having a car accident, or some bizarre catastrophic gastrointestinal event, all unrelated to the practice of martial arts.

Just get a good health insurance policy that has a medical evacuation component.
doc


Hello Doc,

Congratulations on your big news, I hope your family and you are very happy and healthy upon the arrival of your son. That said, I will be brief, I'm sure you've many other things to concern yourself and many sleepless nights ahead, all the joys of becoming a new parent.

I picked an insurance policy, with medical evacuation coverage, which was another stress dealt with (you know, those brochures are a pain in the arse to read through). I also got in touch with Jackey, I tried to ask him about the train details to give to you and DeCheng but I think he misinterpreted my meaning. Because he wrote back:

Dear xxx

No problem! for train ticket is no problem!just take it easy!;)
yes, no so many rain, recently snow a little bit, freezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzing!but mid of March will be warmer!;)
stay well, keep in touch,
jackie


Oh well, he has said he will call DeCheng with train times once he puts me on the train. Which will be, god willing, the 19th of xxxxxx.

My journey now is finally 'organised', to use the term loosely. Apart from odds and ends here and there, I can leave the country knowing that the essentials have been covered.

In no small part has this come together with your help Doc. I am extremely grateful for everything you've done to make this adventure a possibility. Six months ago if I hadn't found your site (and your assistance) chances are I'd be rocking up to the Shoalin temple, sleeping bag in hand, ready to stand outside the famous gate to wait for a Master Kan lookalike to let me in. Now it's hard to believe after all the questions, developments and advice that Shaolin is now almost within reach. After a while the saving and the picturing what to expect in Dengfeng and the Temple becomes routine; it's surreal now to be living the dream.
Hopefully one day I'll get to meet the man behind the screen name and avatar, maybe even later in the year for a holiday in Thailand.

Obviously, 'brief' is a relative term, but I'll conclude by once again expressing my thanks, I'll be in touch soon, keep you updated on my progress and wishing you all the best on your journey as a father.

Fondest regards,
xxxxx


Dont thank me yet; you haven't gotten there yet, nor have you seen what you're getting into, LOL.

Have a safe trip. Any problems, call me directly +66 xxxxxxxxx. Bring an unlocked cell phone with you so you can buy a sim card; communication with the outside world is the key in case of emergencies.

Please resend your passport page and parents contact information again. I can't seem to remember where I filed it. I use it so that I can get in touch with your family if an emergency arises.

You're welcome any time in Thailand.

Have a great time. It will be a trip that you will hate, remember, and cherish for the rest of your life.

doc

Sorry I've not been in contact lately, having a lot of trouble getting my Aunty's net to work and prior to that was doing the last of my preparation for the trip. I'm in Singapore now and the weather is pretty wild, unbelievable how a sunny day turns into a thunder storm in about fifteen minutes.

I haven't been in contact with Jackey yet but I will email him today, make sure all my tickets are sorted and he is still right to collect me from Beijing airport.

I just wanted to say thanks again, all you're help has not gone unappreciated on my end. I will be in touch when I've settled myself in Dengfeng and as soon as I can get my hands on a computer with internet access.

One last thing, I sent those details and passport photos to you again, did you get them?

Be in touch soon and hope all is well with you, your wife and newborn. Take care and stay safe,


all good. enjoy singapore, its a wonderful city. if you have time go to the night zoo.
if you have any problem, my number is +xxxxxxxxx. safe trip
doc

 

It appears that this student's trip turned out well. After some initial shock and consternation, he settled into the routine and the culture without difficulty, as evidenced by his last message:

Dear doc,

Yes, everything's going well I don't have any complaints. My number one concern coming here was remaining the tourist unable to make friends at the school; I thought if anything would make me despise the place that would be it.

But quite the opposite has happened, I've made friends with all the kids in the school, I'm teaching English to one for an hour Mon-Fri and I intend to run a class for English for the others after the competition is over in the next week or soI can't see myself extending my visa beyond six months, I think once my time is up I will head down to Thailand. I'm certainly not over Dengfeng yet, but you're very right, six months, a year, many years is just so unrealistic. I applaud anyone willing to stick it out for that long, or maybe it's pity; when you do kung fu all the time you realise that though it may be an important part of your life it's not everything.

Thank you for all your advice, it's been very helpful and is appreciated. Thank you for the concern, I will be in touch soon.