Sunday, October 31, 2010

Written 10/29

It's been longer than I had intended before posting another blog entry. We were over 30 hours in transit, with some adventures along the way. One member of our group, Polly, had her luggage sent off to parts unknown. Korean Airlines is still looking for it. Luckily, she had a bag off essentials with her. Korean Air was very good about it. They provided excellent service, all in all. But we did have a 145 mph headwind which put us behind schedule. That gave us very little time to catch the connecting flight in Seoul for Shanghai. Incheon is a big airport, so it was a sprint to the connecting gate, through another security checkpoint. When we got there, several hundred people were trying to squeeze through two screeners. A man came out to say "Too many people! Go that way! Three minutes. There's another check point". So, off we went again, sprinting another couple hundred yards. But there we found a check point, with no wait at all. It was worth it. We made the flight just in time.

Andy and Eric were waiting for us with a bus to take us to our hotel. Very accommodating. But again, another big line to check in. There is an expo in Shanghai, so all the hotels are very busy. They do things big in China. Seventy million people have attended the Expo since it opened last May. That's more than 1/4 of the population of the USA. We are now in Ningbo, near Rujing's temple, where Dogen trained and was enlightened. We will see that tomorrow. This little town near Shanghai has a population of two million people, five million in the metro area.

Another reason I am late posting to this blog is that I have been unable to connect with either Blogspot or Facebook since I got here. I can log on to other sites, so I'm wondering if those sites are blocked in China. I'm writing this in our hotel in Ningbo, saving it on my laptop, hoping to upload it when I can. That may turn out to be back in Portland. If so, my apologies for keeping you waiting.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Orleans - Havana

I like maps and comparing places on the globe when I visit. At Plum Village I recognized that Bordeaux is at the same latitude as the Oregon wine country. Europe and Africa are relatively further north than the Americas.

We will be arriving in Shanghai, which is just above the 30th parallel, about the same as New Orleans and Houston. Most of our trip will be around that latitude, but we will drop down close to the Tropic of Cancer, about like Havana and Mazatlan. Yet it should be quite cool there.

Near the end of the trip we take a flight to the north, where we will be for a few days before returning to Shanghai. Andy Ferguson warned us that last year they had snow there around the time we'll be there. I'm not sure what the latitude is there, but I'm heading out to pick up a map of China in English. Gyokuko's detailed map is in Chinese! No use for me. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Introducing This Blog

Hello Friends,

This blog will have a limited life span, existing to keep people apprised of events on the Dharma Rain Zen Center tour of China with Andy Ferguson's South Mountain Tours. Nineteen of us will be exploring sites associated with the formation and development of the Zen (Ch'an) tradition in China.

We will start with a visit to the temple where Dogen trained in the 13th century before he brought Soto Zen to Japan. Near the end we will see Shaolin, where Bodhidharma sat in a cave for six years in the 5th century at the very start of the Zen tradition. We will also participate in the memorial festival for Bodhidharma at his Dharma Seat along with thousands of Chinese pilgrims, attesting to the revival of Buddhism in that country. In between we will see sites associated with most of the important developments in the Zen tradition.

As we go I will do my best to keep a journal of our travels through this blog, with links to photographs and other blogs. I hope many of you join us this way, and post your comments as we go.

Now, back to the real task at hand. Packing!

With palms joined,