China 2019 Part 1

The journey begins

Any trip to China must have a beginning and our story begins at Heathrow airport. Arriving at the airport was slightly stressful due to both traffic and train delays but soon we were walking into the terminal trying to spot our companions. That became an easier task than expected, for there was either a gathering of workmen in fluorescent jackets or our group had congregated outside the entrance. Maybe the choice of luminous yellow for the jackets hadn’t been a bad choice after all!

With some people arriving later than others, penalties were flying around like they were going out of fashion. After a few group photos and checking luggage in, it was time to start as we meant to go on and set the tone for the trip – lunch!

The flight was long but with everyone wearing the trip t-shirt it was a pleasure to see them throughout the cabin as some relaxed, watched films or slept. Arriving into Hong Kong was the time to meet old friends and new, being joined by team America. The bus journey to the border was uneventful and about one hour in length, then it was on to Foshan, a two hour road trip. There was one oversight though and that was Friday afternoon. It appears that Friday afternoon traffic is the same the world over and the two hour trip turned into 4 or was it 5? The word forever probably sums it up better. Arriving in Foshan and disembarking the coach, we were met with more friendly faces and finally the group was complete with Australia and more UK people who had travelled separately. The first evenings’ dinner was at the hotel and had a surprise guest in the form of Ip Sigong. This truly was going to be a great trip.

by Mike Baker

Coming from the USA

Late Wednesday night Andrew Okamoto and I leave for a midnight flight from San Francisco into Hong Kong. We pass through security screening quickly and smoothly with his TSA Pre Check, and without the human indignities and pat down search and long lines I am used to. From there, we head to a VIP Lounge where we stocked up on complimentary pasta, sandwiches and fresh fruit. Once on the plane there was a short delay over maintenance checks and we were on our way, anticipating another epic adventure with Sīfú to pay respect to his teacher, Grandmaster Ip Chun, now 95, to reconnect with old friends in the Centre not seen in a long time and to meet new students, for training, sightseeing and culture, buying tea, and eating the most delicious Cantonese food, direct from the source in Guangdong.

After a smooth overnight flight with plenty of rest, we arrived just after 6am feeling refreshed, coming in before the main group from UK due to arrive midday. The first mission after collecting our bags is head to the airport restaurant to begin the day with some very fine albeit  overpriced Dim Sum.

We had several hours to kill and unlike the last visit when we could exit and return to the airport, the extra security from the violent protests meant we had to stay put. Thankfully, Andrew’s VIP status meant we could access another lounge, this one more luxurious than the last. It was calming, with a waterfall at the entrance and dim lighting, and even had a shower on site, but we did not bother with that, instead choosing to get in more eating practice and enjoy some fresh Hong Kong fish ball noodle soup among other treats. Then, Yun Ki who now lives in HK, met up with us a little early and we went to scout the lower area of the airport where the bus to take us to Foshan was  due to collect us all. The UK Group arrived on time. A lot of warm Hellos and we jump on the bus which took us across the border into mainland China. Everything went smoothly but traffic was very slow, perhaps doubling our time. No matter as the atmosphere on the bus was buzzing with excitement and laughter.

We arrived at our hotel in Foshan and with forty people the check in took some time. That night we were joined for dinner by Sigong and one of his senior students, our Sisuk (Younger Uncle). We enjoyed some delicious  food and afterwards some of the group stayed behind to Chi Sau in the hotel courtyard, while a large group of us went for a walk around the developing district around our hotel, seeing the bars and restaurants and nightlife teeming with people. We finished up with a large cold mango drink with sago (the first of many in Guangzhou) and watched the world go by, before retiring to bed, at the end of a long journey.

by Adam Wallace