Up early to get over to class with Sun Lao Shi (ie, Sun Ru Xian, not Sun Zhi Jun). He had a surprise in store: how about going to practice in Yuanmingyuan (圆明园)? Cool. So, Master Sun, Rene, and I went to the old summer palace, literally across the road from Sun Lao Shi’s apartment.
We passed a spot where Sun Lao Shi used to train when he was younger. Now it’s a quiet spot with a couple of benches; then, it was a graveyard. Training in a graveyard at night apparently used to be a popular practice with martial artists; the spookiness, and the unseen movements and noises of animals, help build a sense of alertness and stress that boost the effectiveness of the training.
We found a quiet spot where we could train. Rene worked on his tanglanquan; I worked on the ba da zhang. It was embarrassing. I have trained on my own – a bit – but for a variety of reasons I haven’t met for class for a few weeks… and I just blanked out and couldn’t remember anything. So, I stressed my way through the class, and if at times I thought Sun Lao Shi was looking at me as if he couldn’t believe what a muppet he’s acquired a student – well, who could blame him? Much hard work needed in the immediate future. Nevertheless, we did some revision, worked on a new move, and studied some applications.
After class, we explored the Yuanmingyuan for a while; I’ve never actually gone there before, and was stunned at how beautiful it is. It was odd, though, to see early Qing-period vistas with the towers of Zhongguancun looming over them!
While we were sightseeing, Sun Lao Shi was talking on his handphone a lot. It transpired he was talking to his wife, who had been preparing a wonderful lunch – vegetarian, for my benefit. She’s really nice, a member of the Mongolian minority group. And boy, can she cook! We ate, chatted, and drank beer for a good long time, before eventually Rene and I had to leave.
I had plans to meet some Singaporean friends in Chaoyang, but that all fell through, so I headed down to Wangfujing Street, as I wanted to look for some reading material. Normally, I ride my bike west to Wudaokou, and catch line 13 down to Xizhimen, change to line 2, and then again to line 1. Today, I thought I would go east, to get on to Line 5, which goes straight down to Dongdan. To cut a long story short, it was a lot more complicated than I thought, and included my security chain sliding out of the bike’s basket, and in between the spokes of the front wheel – while I was on the 4th Ring Road on the way back, in the dark. Not the first place I would have chosen for it to happen, but no major effects beyond a big scare. The route took me past the Olympic Stadium (AKA “Bird’s Nest”) and the Aquatics Centre as well – both very beautiful, especially the latter when lit up at night!