i was having an online conversation with my first teacher R. through MSN. he practices at home daily and then goes to TM's Second Series class in LaJolla once a week. he feels that his class in community is always stronger than the ones at home. i have to admire Grimmly, Kai and others for having strong practices at home. Karen does that too, but she's been going to the shala lately. i'm at the mat about an hour and a half in the mornings. i derive benefits from the experience. but i can't say the practices resemble the intensity i've experience in the shala. in any case i can't get to the shala except on weekends. right now i have not been able to go because of travel and the cold. also, i have to deal with my emotional state when i realize that if i go the shala, i will only be doing primary. (i think i can run my practice up to kapotasana, since i have been allowed to do so in front of four certified teachers. listen to me, negotiating. i'm breaking into a cough laughing here.) i don't express any of this as a complaint. i'm just acknowledging the truth, that if i go, i will probably be expected to practice primary and that if i slip other asanas beyond that, i may have to explain my justification for it.
the first day in Yangshuo we rented bikes. a guide accompanied us along so that we could get to the sites efficiently. he would collect from us the entrance fee to attractions, adding a small amount for his compensation. this is the moon hill.
these flowers are typical of warm climates
this is the Li River, and the area where the rafts that drift along it complete their journey.
our next attraction was the large assembling dragon caves. they are quite large, with ponds in some of the caves. the lighting inside is nice, although i would have been satisfied with ranges of white illumination. i thought it was unusual that inside they had two areas for professional photographs where you could get your picture taken. it was also unusual to have a large store dedicated to stones inside part of the cave. one of the young people accompanying us would climb to the stalactites area, put his arm around them and pose like an 1800s explorer holding a pipe. hmm. when i have visited caves in other places, people are reminded that minuscule organism still live in the caves and flash photography blinds them.
there was an ancient Buddhist temple on the way to the next attraction. my friends continued on to the next attraction while i visited it. their attraction included the giant Banyan Tree featured in a movie, so i missed photographing it. the temple had an active community of monks, so i didn't take too many photos so as to not be shusshed. there were some very rare giant sculptures of Shakyamuni. in one of them he was holding a pagoda in his hands. there was a service going on. it was beautiful so i participated in it for a while.
i rejoined my friends and returned to the hotel, bycicling along the river on scenic back roads. we admired the beautiful formations of the mountains of this place. we passed by the site of a four star hotel which is finishing construction and due to open in January.