Tour offers rare inside look at Shaolin Temple
The movies of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan have helped to kindle a global fascination with Chinese kung fu.
Now, tourists will get a chance to take a closer look at where it all began.
Planet Travel is launching a new tour of Shaolin Temple in Henan province, the birthplace of an important school of martial arts, for the coming National Day holiday in October.
Normally, Shaolin Temple's practice space and living quarters are not open to visitors, so most travel agencies in the country only allow travelers to learn martial arts outside the temple.
However, Planet Travel now is providing a chance for visitors from China and abroad to stay in the temple, eat with the disciples, practice kung fu and be far from the maddening crowds during the holiday.
In a word, visitors can experience what the life of a martial arts disciple is like.
They may not become a master of Shaolin martial arts at the end of the journey, but at the very least they will come closer to understanding the meaning of real Chinese kung fu.
Even without the martial arts training, the three-day holiday option is worth considering as an opportunity leave behind bustling cities for a bucolic refuge like the Shaolin Temple, said executives of the travel agency.
Every morning, visitors can learn from the Shaolin disciples about a Shaolin boxing art, which is specifically designed for beginners.
The learners may even have the chance to have one-on-one coaching from Shaolin masters.
Several foreign disciples have trained or are training currently in the temple. Thus, participants to the Planet Travel's martial art campaign can have a chance for cultural exchanges.
During the three-day holiday, the participants are not allowed to leave the Shaolin Temple. This might sound a little strict, but gives a chance to breath fresh air.
In addition, waking up early in the morning and taking a walk in the mountains that surround the temple will fill visitors with a strong atmosphere of martial arts learning because young Shaolin martial art disciples and foreign kung fu fans are almost all over the mountain.
Accompanied by Shaolin disciples, the learners can have a visit around the Shaolin temple and its renowned cultural relics, including the hall for 500 arhats and the stone statue of the Bodhidharma.
During the visit, the learners can get some knowledge of the Shaolin Temple's origin, history and architecture.
In the evenings, when the Shaolin disciples practice martial arts near the living quarters of the learners, visitors can join them or just watch and learn.
The learners will also watch a live kung fu stage show, with the local landscape as a background and nearly 10,000 performers taking part. The production is made possible by an investment of more than 100 million yuan ($16.3 million).