A Travellerspoint blog

Nisha and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

No wonder Nisha wants to move to Australia!

We got up bright and early and had breakfast (on floor 2!) with Master Yang and his father. Then it was time to pack up and leave Jinan for Qingdao. This is a city on the ocean where the German's made their eastern colony thereby inventing China's greatest beer (Qingdao Beer... its really kinda a self explanatory name).

On the train ride I got the window seat again, (aren't I a stinker?) and glad for it because my tummy started to do that thing where it bubbles and churns something unnatural. I couldn't even read my book which I am generally good at on rides like train or airplane. Its car and bus rides that I have to glue my eyes to the windows. But today, I sat and watched the never changing scenery, tightly grasping onto the barf bag I hid under my tray table so as not to draw attention to the ghost who can't stomach train rides.



And then, out of literally nowhere, I saw something completely unexpected! If I hadn't been so sick there would be no way this cold and barren landscape could hold my attention for an hour and a half, so maybe my luck was turning. Karma was rearing its amorphous face, and I was really just grasping at straws hoping that this was a good sign and the glands in the back of my mouth might just stop producing unwanted quantities of saliva.


Thats actually this really large golden Buddha in the middle of nowhere! There was a small cluster of farm houses near by, but whatever this place was, it was something I didn't expect to see here.

About 30 min. later, ready and rearing to get the hell off the train, we made it to Qingdao. Master Yang's friend, Master Zhang (pronounced like a “j”, and has a long “a” like Gandhi), met us at the train station with his 12 seater van.

Master Yang said, “There he is,” and began talking a mile a minute in Chinese with his friend. I imediately liked this guy and knew he was a great martial arts master. He looked very strong and so happy to see Master Yang. He gave him a big hug and the way he walked and talked told me that he had a lot of good energy. He was definitely quick and sharp with a shine in his eyes. I hardly noticed that he was significantly shorter than Master Yang. Master Zhang had short cut jet black hair that receded just enough to give a mature look. He had a round face that was also sharp and tan, and he was solid and a little stocky. He had a constant kind yet sly smile on his face.

Nisha (so many names, identity problem?):

Master Yang left his suitcases with his father at their hotel back in Jinan, so he only had one bag, but Joe and I had every thing we owned, so it was very nice being able to take up 3 seats with our stuff and get to have some space to ourselves. We picked up his wife on the way to lunch, and I started to think that maybe it wasn't the train ride. Don't get me wrong, Master Zhang is probably the worst driver I have ever met, but his driving wasn't making me car sick. It may have made me (and Master Yang) fear for our lives, but the ride was pretty smooth (luckily everyone he cut off or drove in front of on the wrong side of the street made way for him, maybe he is a legend in his town for 2 things). When we sat down to eat I did the thing I hate doing, I was the American that didn't eat the Chinese food and only asked for a Coke.

Then, it started to snow. BLLAAAAAA! No, that wasn't me throwing up... yet. That was me just hating that I didn't feel good and that my head was burning up and my body was getting the chills and I could look forward to hanging out in the snow doing god knows what for the rest of the day. Master Zhang's wife was increasingly insistent that I ate something, and when I wouldn't put something on my plate, she obliged. Later on I forced Master Yang to translate that I had an upset stomach and wouldn't be eating until it settled, and then I was let be for the rest of the meal.

After lunch we got dropped off at our hotel for some free time. Master Zhang wanted to go to his school and pick up some things, and then I think that he was going to pick us up later in the evening to meet some of his friends for dinner. I really wasn't sure of this, because all I wanted to do was lay down and die. I felt absolutely terrible. Master Zhangu took care of getting our room keys, which came really quickly, and then I laid down on the bed with Joe and passed out.

Several hours later I woke with an extremely dry throat and a knot in my stomach. I asked Joe if he could get me some water. We had none. The water in China has to be boiled before you can drink it, and this hotel didn't come with one of the bottled water dispensers. "Could you go out and buy a bottle of water?" Joe didn't seem to understand the severity of how I felt until that moment. If I needed a drink bad enough to make him get out of bed, get dressed, go outside in the snow in a foreign country to find a stand or market selling water, then I really must be sick.

When he came back I was feeling even worse, and I asked him when he brought over the water if he could also bring over the trash can. He did so, placing the can next to my bed. Then, after only getting my itchy dry pipes wet with the liquid, I grabbed for the trash can. Vomit. Lots and lots of vomit. It came out rushing like a high powered faucet. I couldn't control it. I couldn't stop it from overflowing up my nasal passage. I only hoped my eyes didn't start crying the acid. It was over within seconds, but the trash bin was a quarter full. I felt like the little girl from the Exorcist.

I washed my mouth out with water from the sink, and then Joe got me to take small sips of water. I felt a little comforted, but not enough to keep going. That was enough water for now. I fell back asleep. The next time I woke Joe was rubbing my shoulder. "Master Yang called, its time to go to dinner. How do you feel?" "Can you go without me?" He smiled and told me that he would bring me back a little something in a few hours.

I went downstairs with master Yang and I walked into a James Bond movie. Around the big round dining room table sat five intense old chinese men. If it were a movie, all it needed was everyone playing poker instead of having food in front of them. Each had a cigarette held in their hands in different positions with thin wisps of smoke floating up beside them. They were regal, powerful, and still. I stood for a moment and we were all frozen in time. They were all white haired and had an aire of much age and wisdom, but mostly had very serious faces. They were very strong with youthful bodies and perfect posture. One sat with legs crossed, one with legs half crossed, and the others sat with both legs connected to the floor at various angles to the table and with various widths. These guys had power; something beyond the power that money and control over society gives people, but more of a primal physical prowess. They were tigers; no longer hungry, but content to sit and flex their powerful muscles with each breath.

I sat down and spoke a little chinese with several people. Master Zhang was looking very upright and strong as usual. He made several toasts and talked much. He joked around a couple times and it reminded me of when I first saw him. Master Yang told me that he became sick and that was why he was in a bad mood. It was a normal everyday banquet like the ones we have every day. Except, the people made this dinner very interesting. There was much less talking and people were more serious. Except one guy who was about forty and came to the banquet already drunk. I figured out that the young guy between me and him was his student as well as the young man on his other side. They kept pouring him drinks even though they seemed obviously embarrassed by his behaviour. Everyone seemed very interested in the young American martial artist, just like we've seen at other banquets. But, The drunken guy seemed very interested. He said he loved America, then he proceeded to repeat over and over very loudly with much slurring, “I only know 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, I love you! Wa ai ni!” That last part means I love you in Chinese. He would also just toast me over and over saying, “I love you! Wo ai ni!” with different inflections. The old Masters seemed quite pissed at this guy, but they hid it very well and seemed very relaxed about it. I figured he was their student and now he's an alcoholic. Maybe he was a budding young master.

Master Yang told me that these five guys are all Preying Mantis Grand Masters. The best from the old days. He told me that they are all in their 80s. They looked fifty and I told them so. I said they looked so strong. They thanked me and smiled with much kindness. I was afraid to ask them a question about communism, but I asked anyways. I asked them if the government gave them trouble about teaching Kung Fu thirty and fourty years ago. They said they had some troubles, but apparently the west blows some of it out of proportion. I asked them some other good questions and talked a little. Mostly Master Yang was translating for me. But, my questions were well restrained and not probing or annoying. Maybe a few years ago I would be bubbling with questions about the essence of Kung Fu and how to become Masters like them. I would be desperately trying to get past the language barrier and just getting people annoyed. Instead I was respectful and I just absorbed. Meanwhile, the alcoholic was engrossed in his phone, his head down and listening to someone speak. He kept saying softly over and over, “Wa ai ni. Wa ai ni. Wa ai ni. Wa ai ni.”

Half of what you need to learn from a Kung Fu Master can come from their body language; their eyes; the way they move. The Grand Masters were so interesting to watch. I knew from seeing them that I am on the right path; not the best path for anyone, but the best path for me; the one I love. I want to have their power, but with no desire for it; no desire to use it. I want to be powerful enough to be beyond the desire for power. Kung Fu mastery gives this to people. Any master who is power hungry or shows insecurities has fallen from Grace. They've accepted Jesus and are going to Heaven when they die, but for the moment they've lost their connection with God. They are and always will be masters, but they are no longer Masters. These old Grand Masters were at the age that it seemed they could no longer fall from grace or make mistakes. They smoked like they knew it was unhealthy and they were countering the bad energy as soon as it hit them. They showed Grace by shaking hands and smiling at the drunk as his two students carried him out. I excused myself to bring some food to Nisha, but she didn't want it and I went back down.




Joe returned in what may have been a few hours, but I couldn't really tell. All I knew was that I tossed my cookies only once since he left, so the timing was well made. He brought up something that smelled distinctly like food, and I felt the works getting ready to explode again. "Put it on the other side of the room!" I think Joe understood the situation, and he quickly obliged. "Now, put it where I can't see it!" This time, a little hesitation added to his movements, but he still did as I asked. He made me drink some more water, and then the works started up again anyways. This time it was only small bits of water I was getting rid of, so it didn't take long and it didn't bother me too much. I also had that hunger pain mixing like a yin yang with my nausea. "Watermelon." I asked. "I would like some watermelon." I knew that at these fancy dinners they always brought out the fresh fruit tray after all the food was done being eaten and people had sat around and talked for about 15 minutes. "Well, there isn't any watermelon at the dinner, but if they bring some out I'll get it for you." That was all I could ask for. Then he told me a quick rendition of what he just told you, and then headed back downstairs for the rest of dinner.

I listened to the Chinese and watched as the Grand Masters talked amongst themselves. We had desert and I toasted them in Chinese. I kept it simple so I wouldn't make any mistakes. I said to the five, “You are Great. . . and I am small. I love Kung Fu and I am very pleased to meet you all. Cheers!” They appreciated it much. I bowed to them respectfully and again when we were leaving. They each shook my hand and my favorite of the five had a definite twinkle in his eyes. He seemed to be the strongest and maybe the oldest, though he didn't look old. He was thin yet thick, short yet tall. He had short white hair tousled like the youth of today and large thin eyes on a round sharp face. He was made of the Tao to an unreal extent.

Maybe someday I could study with him when I can speak Chinese. He doesn't teach my favorite style, but that's ok. He retired from the spotlight and Master Zhang runs things now, so it would be tough to get him as a teacher. I really have freed myself from chasing these dreams. I will just keep plodding along, trying and trying to find and convince a teacher who won't teach. I can't be detered because I've already given up. For that reason, I am certain that I will find an old Bagua Master like him. I am certain because if I don't find an old Master in the world outside, I will find the old Master within me. I will become him.

My favorite is second from the right. Also, one of the really cool powerful GrandMasters had left by this picture. You can see him in the other photo.

When Joe returned from dinner he brought me 3 triangles of watermelon.
Slowly he let me try my luck at eating some while we watched an episode of Castle before bed (Joe never lets me do this b/c the screen isn't good for you to stare at before you go to sleep). It was the best watermelon of my life! The amount of liquid it let out was just enough to make me hydrated, but not puke, and the food was just enough too.

Feeling better, but not quite right yet, I decide that I'm glad I visited China, but I really really wouldn't want to live here. Still, my mother has assured me that everyone has bad days, even people who live in Australia.

New Zenglish of the day: In the New Zealand version of Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, he wants to move to Timbuktu, not Australia.

Posted by - Rain 06:15

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Hi Joe
Who is the man on the right in the pic with you standing behind the masters? I think I have seen that man somewhere. Maybe in Robert Smith's book called martial musing or in photos with Ben Lo when he was there.

by Mil Romanow

I asked Master Yang your question, here is his response:

All 4 of those guys are Zhang Weifu's kungfu uncles. I don't know the man's name but I can check, I have his card around here somewhere. I'm also FWD a message from Master Lin.

by - Rain

yes, vanessa, rain, nisha, reivan - i do think you have a teensy weensy identity problem :)
but i DO love how some things come full circle, because when jessica was two years old and couldn't say vanessa, you were nessa, pronounced "nesha" by the two year old. come full circle. :)

by georgi r

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