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Photo by Kate Gross-Whitaker


It’s 7:56 A.M. and breakfast starts at 8:00 A.M. Us guys hardly ever wake up on time, but the sudden knock and good-mornings on our doors are usually enough to get us going. As I rush to get dressed for the day I give a short moment to acknowledge the peace and tranquility one might not find in a city like LA or Kunming 。

The morning is cold and the clouds seem to blanket the mountains overtime. Today is our last day in the Baoxing Temple. After a three night stay we’ll soon be headed to the historic town of Shaxi, hidden over the mountains.

Our temporary visit was great. It was in this small temple where we all went vegetarian for a couple of days, some of us more willing than others. Here, where we all experienced the terror of the demon bug that rudely interrupted our evening meeting, and nearly gave some a heart attack. Here, where adorable monkeys soon turned into toilet paper seizing, water bottle snatching, lunch robbing bandits. And here, where Ling introduced us to a Chinese game, we soon dubbed Boing, consisting of nothing more than a rock and chalk and kept us entertained for hours.

There were also more calming moments that allowed us to reflect and think upon our actions. Our small group discussions became a therapeutic time where thoughts, emotions, and-of course- stories were shared. And the various solo exploration opportunities allowed for further self discovery. I guess we all grew as a group and individuals in the process and I am grateful for that.

As I walk down the steps towards the kitchen I look at the towering mountains and feel the small droplets of water spatter onto my jacket. Holding onto my water bottle, I say my farewells to the monkeys that always kept us on our feet. As soon as we finish breakfast we give our thanks and best wishes to the Shūshus(uncles) and Āyís (aunties) that hosted us in their humble home.

Much can happen over the course of three days. I can not wait for the months to come!