Retreat Center Visit: Part III

I try not to get lost in a romanticized view of the Retreat Center and the program. It’s every kung fu kid’s dream to train all day on a mountain with a master. But there is so much more than just the physical training. If the students aren’t training, they’re doing chores, preparing meals, studying theories or Chinese, teaching, working on media projects, or writing articles – all while exhausted from training. The life they chose to live is simple, but by no means easy. It’s the environment that makes life easier. As a visitor, a week goes by too quickly and it’s hard for me to leave and come back to “normal” life.

Sometimes, I would stop and spend a few minutes just taking in this view.

The rainbow is there, always
(by Javier C.)

This is one of my favorite places to be. I can’t wait to reach the top of the long driveway, pass the garden, and get to the house and see this view. It’s still new to me. For the students, this is home. It’s the place where they experience all their ups and downs. No matter where we are, in our darkest moments, we have a difficult time seeing the beauty around us. I hope I never stop seeing its beauty.

There is another great view at night, when the stars fill the sky.

(by Javier C.)

The RC experience would not be complete without the animals. Xiao Hu is always around, waiting for someone to acknowledge him, or better yet, play with him. Or even better yet, feed him. He wishes he was an indoor dog. I feel bad when I have to close the cabin door and Xiao Hu sits outside, waiting to see when you’ll open the door again.


Xiao Hei (小黑 Little Black) was the first people-cat I had ever met. He’s very vocal and purrs as soon as you scratch him.

Clothes pins… nom nom

Eddie saw a bear! It was just chillin and eating berries and he was able to grab his camera and take a photo.

(by Eddie)

In the evening, the chickens will usually go into the coop by themselves. However, we discovered that they preferred to roost in the tree.

Chicken tree

♫ What would the RC be without music? My favorite part about Frank is his positive spirit, and he frequently expresses this by singing or whistling. (I do this too, but while Frank’s musical talents are appreciated, mine are tolerated.) One night, I started whistling “I Could Have Danced All Night” (from My Fair Lady) while I was downstairs. Someone upstairs finished the melody. I whistled the next part, paused, and waited for the response. Frank soon came down and we whistled and sang My Fair Lady songs back and forth.

My singing is even worse than my whistling, but luckily, I took piano lessons as a kid. As fate would have it, Dr. Yang recently drove his baby grand piano from Boston to Miranda. So, Frank and I planned to do a duet of Boyce Avenue’s cover of “Apologize.” Sometimes other people would join us. I really wish someone recorded the group rendition, because the guys all got into it and we could not stop laughing. I also asked Frank to learn the lyrics to Guang Liang’s “Fairytale” (王光良 – “童話”), but I didn’t learn the piano part well enough in time. However, we heard the song playing at the Chinese buffet and we sang along. Coincidence? I think not.

Please tune me!

On Saturday night, we watched West Side Story. The best part of the movie is the prologue. The gangstas juxtaposed with the snapping and sudden break out into dance moves cracks me up every time. Eddie could not stop laughing either, but some of the dancing creeps him out. If you want to creep him out, snap with both hands, walk towards him, do a bicycle jump, and keep walking towards him :D


Even though musicals are usually all rainbows and puppies, I find it comforting to have a dose of sunshine when reality is grey or black. If someone can burst into an elaborate song & dance number about love, spoonfuls of sugar, or raindrops on roses, at least they know how to appreciate things in life. When I start to sing or whistle, it puts me in a better mood.
Hm, I know I’m not the only person who thinks there should be a Kung Fu Musical.

2 thoughts on “Retreat Center Visit: Part III

  1. Serious offer: If you are serious about that and think you can make it happen, I will produce it. No Joke. Have you got a plot in mind?

  2. Hahaha thanks for the offer :) I think it would be pretty cool if we could find people who actually train martial arts and can sing and dance, but that's gotta be a rare combo. I don't have a plot in mind (and there's too much going on now), but if I ever have any ideas, I'll let you know. I hope all is well with you!

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