Journey to Wudang Mountain: The Home of Taoist Gung Fu — Part 5
Dylan will be writing about his solo trip to China through a series of articles titled “Journey to Wudang Mountain: The Home of Taoist Gung Fu.” This is Part 5 of the series. Follow along to see how he got there, what his Gung Fu training is like, and how he deals with international travel alone. Read Part 4 here.
Wudang’s Delicious Food
I originally thought to do a post about one night I went out in Wudang but I have had so much food in town since that thought. So I will tell you all about the different foods that are served in Wudang. I can’t tell you restaurant names or where they can be found. That’s for your own journey.
My favorite restaurant in Wudang is what we call “The Fish Place.” This little beauty is a hole in the wall and doesn’t look much like a restaurant. It has about 6 short tables with center burners, surrounded by cute little stools. Right next to this room, completely open to the street, is a vat of live fish and scale. The first night I went was with a few of the western students: Roderigo (El Salvador), Vincent (France), and Nathan (America). It was our first night out after a few days, so we had a little celebration. We went to a corner store that sold beer, booze, snacks, and cigarettes. We bought a small bottle of bi jiu (rice liquor), which I would find out later tasted like gasoline.
As we came upon the restaurant, Roderigo, who had been there before, said: “Go on — someone pick a fish.” Frenchie (Vincent) stepped up and grabbed a large, live fish out of the vat of swirling fish. The Chinese man smiled, probably because it was huge, grabbed the fish, and hit its head on the sidewalk. It did not die so he took a wood club and slapped its head one time. It stopped moving. He weighed it and told us the price. We agreed and sat down. Roderigo ordered for us. One by one, dishes were served: dumplings, eggplant and lamb skewers, cucumber and parsley salad, fried sweet corn kernels, squid skewers, noodles, and then the fish came out. It was in a metal container filled with herbs and spices and placed in the center of the table. He turned the burner on to keep it warm for us. We stuffed our faces after a hard week of training. I think the fish was the best, then the squid, which was also quite spicy. Everything was delicious… except the bi jiu which I only drank a few sips. But I rather enjoyed the beer, which was very low alcohol content. Overall this was a great experience and the price was only 265 yuan, which is like 40 US dollars. A meal like that in the United States would have been between $150.00 and $200.00. Great food, fresh food, and cheap food!
The same group of people plus Zhou, one of the Chinese Students at the school, went to a place I would call “Chinese BBQ.” It was nice to have Zhou because he had been there before and spoke much much better Chinese than I. Zhou is 21 years old and has been studying Tai Ji for four years. He is extremely talented, but more importantly, he is welcoming and kind. I found that many people in China treated everyone like family. I am always getting invited to people’s homes just after a short meeting, very different from the west. Anyway, we entered the restaurant and found a man behind a bar selling bottles of bi jiu (YUCK) and several glass tables with lazy susans in the center. This is found at many places in China where you share dishes. Zhou ordered for us. We had every type of meat skewer: pork, beef, chicken, and something else that was kind of chewy…? Also, we ate the best sweet and sour chicken, nothing like anything served in the United States. The taste was amazing and we used what seemed like large dinner pancakes to soak up the sauce. It was quite the meal and another great night out in Wudang town.
I usually went to town on our day off from training: Monday. But there were a few times we would go into town during the week. Like the time when I was training and I realized I had burned a hole through my shoe, sock, and right to my big toe. I tried to patch it with some tape and some leaves but within 30 minutes it was all falling apart. Only two weeks of training and it was time for new shoes. So on midday break, I went with Nathan, a fellow student, to town and we found a little store and that had wonton soup, again nothing like anything found in the States. It was full of about 20-30 wontons and was a simple way to fill the belly. Then I got a new pair of shoes. Wontons and shoes. Shoes and wontons. I think I have said enough about Wudang eats. Just come try for yourself.
Listen up for real Wudang training—one movement takes three days. Thanks for reading, see you soon! HI-YAH!