Dengfeng, Henan (next to Shaolin Temple) – 1044km

We are now in the heartland of the northern Chinese civilization. Along the Yellow River (Huang He), the ancient kingdoms of the north placed their capitals and vied for power. Luoyang, Xi’an, Kaifeng are all on the river.

This was a lush and rich country with vast production and abundance. Agriculture started here with millet (xiao mi 小米 – the same name as the successful Android phone maker) and rice 7500 years ago. More or less the same time as agriculture started in the fertile crescent (modern Syria/Turkey).

Now this is a dry land. Last night we had no water in the guesthouse, due to municipal water supply restrictions. The town is waiting for the summer rains to replenish the reservoirs and in the meantime the water is rationed.

The history of north China gets a lot of attention in most history books, while the kingdoms of the south gets much less attention. I think it is due to the fact that the North conquered the South with the help of Ginghiz Khan and that the winners write the history books. The high cultures around Hangzhou and Suzhou and the southern Song are often ignored. In the same way the history of the recently added territories is usually neglected. I see the same thinking in Sweden, where the history/traditions of Lapland are largely absent from the history books.

First leg of the journey – high speed train from Shanghai to Zhengzhou, and then further to Dengfeng.

We stay at the Climber’s Hostel in DengFeng, the small town next to the Shaolin Temple – the cradle of Chinese Kungfu. Today we will go there to watch the monks practice the lethal styles of the past.

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