Tai Chi teacher in China

I came to China in 2008 to study Kung Fu. I was practicing Kung Fu in Belgium and came to China for the first time in 2007 to travel through the country of this beautiful martial art! I visited tourist places, like Yangshuo, Xi’an and Beijing and also went to Shaolin to see some real Shaolin Kung Fu. When I was in Yangshuo, I met a Kung Fu teacher who had a beautiful family style, BuDiZhen, a mix of Shaolin and Wudang Kung Fu.

 

I decided to live in Yangshuo for 1 year, study Kung Fu and then I thought of moving back to Belgium. Little did I know back then that my life would never be the same again…
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I stayed in Yangshuo and learned from my Kung Fu teacher for 2 years. I had some money saved, so I was an English teacher just part-time and I focused on learning a lot of Kung Fu.

But, after 2 years, I started to hear more about Tai Chi and how it helps you to cultivate your internal energy. I was intrigued by it and finally found a good teacher to teach me Chen Tai Chi.

From 2010, I started to practice Tai Chi. I loved the slow graceful movements, but also the martial aspect of it. Every movement represents a self-defense technique and it is actually hard work. I practiced really hard and went to a couple of competitions: in 2013, I went to Henan, Jiaozuo, the birthplace of Tai Chi to participate in an International competition and I got a gold medal and silver medal. The year after, I went to the World Championship, but didn’t get a medal there.

 

In 2015, I moved to Shenzhen and I started to teach Tai Chi to expats that I met here. I never thought I could be a Tai Chi teacher in China and I didn’t profile myself like that at first. Some people wanted to know a bit more about Tai Chi and because I could speak English, they asked me to teach them. Little by little, I started to be known as the ‘Tai Chi master’ and more people were texting me to know my teaching schedule.

 

I am teaching almost every month now and am having more and more students. I am thinking of a whole project to teach Tai Chi as a whole lifestyle: the movements, the history and the philosophy.

 

When I tell Chinese people that I teach Tai Chi, the first reaction is almost always: but you are not old! Apparently, for Chinese people you have to be old to practice Tai Chi. I always answer: “it’s because I don’t want to become old that I practice.” Because Tai Chi helps to balance your body and mind, makes your body stronger, you will not become old that fast.

 

I find it a shame that Chinese people don’t want to practice Tai Chi anymore. The new generation is not putting much value on it. I heard that in my country it is becoming very popular. The West is discovering ancient Chinese philosophy: Chinese medicine, Chinese arts and Chinese martial arts are all becoming very popular. But, in China they are becoming less and less popular. Do we, Westerners, in the future will have to teach the Chinese about their traditional culture?

 

photo shoot

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I did a photo shoot for his sponsor Camel in their headquarters in Guangzhou.

I thought that it would be mainly my husband that they would take photos of, because after all, it is him that they sponsor, not me. But, as it turned out, I had to be in the pictures as well and it was all more professional than I thought. I thought we would just dress in some of their clothes, they would take a few photos and that was it.
Not according to them…

It took a whole day: from 9.30am till 6pm. They had a stylist who was doing our makeup and hair, we had to change into different clothes a lot and we had to put on some gear (e.g. climbing gear, backpack,…). I felt uncomfortable a couple of times. Like the time when the guy was doing my makeup and he said that I really didn’t put a lot of makeup on myself. He was surprised to see how little makeup I applied myself. I applied mascara and eye-shadow, which was already more than I did before and no, I don’t apply any foundation or BB cream now as the temperatures are still over 30 degrees and it would run down my face in 5min anyway.

While he was doing my makeup, some real models showed up: they would do the normal clothes line. I felt very conscious of myself. They were tall, slim and beautiful!! And most of all: they knew what they were doing. They did their thing and after just 1 hour they finished. As with us, they had to tell us over and over again where to look, what pose, do it more natural, not too natural, smile, don’t smile, look up, look down. It was exhausting! I know now that I am not a model and don’t even want to be one.

Another embarrassing moment was when 1 of the trousers were a bit too tight. The girl who dressed me (yes, I had my personal assistant who took me to the dressing room and helped me dress), said that they might be a bit too tight. Me, not wanting to admit that I do have big thighs, said it was fine. But, I had to wear them a couple of times and yes, I was very conscious on how tight they were. Time to go on a diet, I guess (although till this moment, I still haven’t started on this diet just yet, I will soon)!

All in all it was a nice experience and it might have been the only photo shoot I will ever do, so it was good to see that a model’s life can be quite hard and that it’s not so good for your self-confidence at times!

Long time not online

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since I have posted another blog.

A lot has happened these couple of months! Beginning of July we went on honeymoon for more than 6 weeks. I succeeded to:

  • summit my first mountain of 5300m (well, actually, my first mountain ever! I had never been close to a mountain before);
  • we did a trekking of 5 days in between mountains (where we had to climb over a few mountain passes, some as high as 4800m, my feet were covered in blisters and I was just glad I was still kind of able to walk till the finish line);
  • we climbed a second mountain: I went till 5000m and stayed at the campsite, while Eric went with our guide to the summit of 5588m. Although, Eric climbed already several mountains, some of them much higher than this one, he told me that it was the most difficult and dangerous one he ever did;
  • then, we did a last trekking of normally 5 days, but we ended up doing in 6. Our last day, we would go on a hiking without our guide in nature. It would normally take 3 hours, we did it in 2 full days: we got lost, had to sleep on top of a mountain on a small ridge and the next morning we had to leave all our stuff behind as it was too dangerous to take with us. We managed to finally arrive at the touristic side of the region and were just in time to take the last bus back (otherwise we would have to walk another 40km to get out of the spot).

And… finally we had our Chinese (very traditional, but a lot of fun too) wedding party. All this, I will describe in more detail these next few blogs…

I will start with our wedding party first, as this is still the freshest in my mind and the most wonderful, happy, mystical experience my husband could give me!!!

The start of my life with my traditional man

IMG_20150603_185728On 5 June, I got married to my Chinese boyfriend. We were then together for 3 months and it felt the right thing. It went really fast, because we were just trying to get the right papers. Actually, it went a bit like this:

One evening I wanted to talk to him about our future. I wanted to have the serious talk, that was somewhere in May. He then said that right on that same day, he went to the Chinese government to see what we have to do to get married. I replied kinda like: “Oh, so, we are going to marry?” And he said: “Yeah, Why not? It’s going to be easy, we don’t need many documents.”
That was the world’s least romantic proposal, I guess. A couple of weeks later he told me that he had to confess a secret. When he was in Nepal, he bought a ruby for me and a sapphire for him and he wanted to take them to the summit of Mt. Everest. Back to base camp, I would be waiting for him there and he would propose to me then. That was really romantic, but, because of the earthquake, he lost the stones and he was really down because of it.
Next year, April 2016, he will climb again and I will wait for him in base camp and he wants to do the proposal right then, but he said that we can already get married now and get the rings next year. That was the most romantic thing I ever heard and that is why I love him: he is very pragmatic, but then all of a sudden he surprises me with some deep heartfelt emotions.

So, after our serious talk in May, I set to work to get the right document from the Belgian government. After a couple of weeks, I could get the document in the consulate in Guangzhou, as it had to be translated there in Chinese. At the consulate they told me that this was not enough. I needed many more documents. On our way back to Shenzhen, we were a bit down, especially me, because I hate this bureaucratic going-around (as many people I am sure) and I was not looking forward at sending emails to different Belgian government departments to get the right papers. Back in Shenzhen, we went to the marriage registration bureau to ask which papers we really needed. And… you won’t believe it, after half an hour we stood outside: Married! We didn’t need the other papers, there were no witnesses (in Belgium you need at least 2 witnesses to co-sign the marriage) and no rings. I was a bit in a daze, didn’t fully understand what just happened, but also very happy that we were husband and wife without much bureaucratic hassle.

In the evening, Eric, my husband (still feels weird to call him that) told me that it was not romantic so far, but he wanted to get the unromantic part out of the way and then we could fully focus on the romantic part: our wedding party and honeymoon.

Eric is from Sichuan and we will have our honeymoon there first: a few weeks traveling by car through the province, do several trekkings in the mountains and then on August 22 we will have our wedding party in Sichuan. Next weekend, 4 July we will finally start our honeymoon. I am so looking forward to it, because the bureaucratic mill is still going on. I need a new visa, but because my passport is only valid for another year, it would be better to just renew my work visa, which need, again, many papers and we were waiting for a few weeks again to see if we could go on a holiday. We will go, even though, my passport will still be in process of the new visa and will be at the PSB, but I guess with a copy of my passport and if we don’t take any flights it will be ok.

mmexport1435303096705Then, we started to look at wedding clothes,…. Aahhhh, I didn’t know! Many Chinese marry Western style now, in a white dress, but I told him that I don’t mind to marry in a Chinese wedding dress, which I thought was red, but still elegant. When he showed me the picture of what he had in mind, my eyes almost fell out of my head and I exclaimed: “No way! You don’t get me in THAT!” (see picture) So, we compromised. We will wear that for some of our wedding pictures and I will marry in a mild, elegant version of the traditional dress.

I can see that our life will be interesting and colourful, because of all the differences. As long as we can talk about it and have a laugh, it will be ok.

I am looking forward to the rest of our life together! It is going to be a great adventure!

When you know he is the right one…

I start my new chapter in Shenzhen, China. I have lived in Yangshuo, Guangxi for 6 years. I had the best of times there and I had the worst of times. The best of times was when I met people from all over the world, some of them became really close friends. Even though they left China, I know that wherever we are in the world, we will stay in touch and will make an effort to see each other.
The worst of times is when I got hurt by men. I had a long relationship when I came to China, but because foreign men are popular with Chinese girls here, he left me for a Chinese. Also, once in China, we did everything together and from what I know now, we were not fit for each other anyway. I was alone for almost 2 years after that. I dated some guys, but it stayed with just a couple of first dates.
After that, I met a Chinese guy and we hit it off immediately. We had the same interests and we had a lot of fun together. Until more than 2 years into our relationship, I wanted to take it to another level. I wanted to marry him and wanted to have it more serious (after all, we had been living together for 2 years by then), but he became withdrawn and stayed out with friends more and more. Until I heard that he dated another girl. He broke my heart and it took more than a year to get over this relationship and to trust guys again.

Back in the single life, I also realized that Yangshuo was not the town for me anymore. It’s very touristic and it turned more and more into a party place for rich Guangdong people to come and party for the weekend. Although, I started to avoid the center of town and practiced tai chi by myself in quiet places, I started to feel very lonely as well. Most of the foreigners were still meeting in the bar. For me, I felt that chapter was closed. I wanted to move on with my life. I wanted to have more in life and not just a day job and hang out in the bar at night. I felt I was stuck there.

It took a while to know what I really wanted. Last year, 2014, I went to Belgium, my home country 2 times: in summer for the wedding of my brother and in winter to celebrate christmas (which I hadn’t celebrated in Belgium since I moved to China). Both times, I thought of moving back to Belgium. At least, there I had my family and still some close friends who know me for many years. Back in China, I thought if I would at least try to live in a big city, but the thought of starting all over in a big city where I hardly knew anyone, frightened me.

After thinking about all my possibilities, I returned to Yangshuo in January this year. With a new confidence and a brighter look onto life: I would go back to Belgium and find a job there. Even if Belgium wasn’t the country for me anymore, I could stay with my family for at least a year and in the future I could always move back to China. I felt I needed to be with the people I loved most.

But life gave me another direction…

Back in China I started to teach at my old school again, because I couldn’t move during the period of Chinese New Year and it would take a while to sort all my things out, not in the least my little dog, who I was planning on taking with me to Belgium.
At school, I met an interesting guy: Eric. We started dating and he showed me a whole different Yangshuo: he was into rock climbing (I had done it a couple of times, but because I never had friends who were really into it and because I was focusing more on tai chi, I never stuck to it). He always went climbing with many others: foreigners and Chinese. They were all really close with each other and I saw for the first time that there is something that binds climbers: they will help you with everything and encourage you to push your limits. We had the best times: we went camping a couple of times or we just made a fire near our climbing site and when we were not climbing we had great talks about life.
The Yangshuo I saw now, was one of being close to mountains, quiet spots, natural caves,… Not the hustle and bustle of the town. It made me look at it in a different new way. After 6 years, I looked with new eyes at the place I lived in for so long.

Still, I knew my life was not in Yangshuo anymore. Eric and I became a couple. He lives in Shenzhen, so after Chinese New Year, I moved with him to Shenzhen. We immediately lived with each other. I had to adjust to the life in a big city, but it was also very exciting and there are endless possibilities here.

In April, Eric went to Nepal to climb the Mt. Everest, which ended in a disaster because of the earthquake (see my previous blog entry). Because of this experience, I knew more than ever he is my perfect match and I never want to lose him. He felt the same way. So much so, that we got married yesterday.

June 5, 2015 is our official wedding day! It’s only by law, we will have our wedding party on a different day. It feels perfect!
When you know you have the right one, you don’t need to wait for a certain time to get married. It all goes natural and smooth…

I wish for everyone to find their perfect match and have a fulfilling life! Tell me about the time where you met your life partner or tell me about your past love experiences. 

New features

Hello everyone,

This has been my personal blog for a while now. I have written about my personal thoughts, my experiences and the personal development I went through. Especially, living in China.

My life has changed so much recently and I have decided to change my blog a bit. I will write about my life with my new Chinese boyfriend. Because I have moved with him to a big city, Shenzhen and we have our cultural differences, I will mainly write about our everyday life and our experiences.

My boyfriend is quite adventurous: he is into running marathons and ultraruns, mountaineering and rock climbing. I came to China to learn martial arts. My main focus in life were these sports. Read about what we are doing and if he can change my mind into following him more on his adventures.

I also have a health blog, which you can follow here: https://healthybodymindblog.wordpress.com/

Enjoy the reading and please feel free to comment on my articles and share your experiences in a foreign country.

Nepal hit by earthquake!! Avalanche on Mt. Everest…

25 April 2015, a big earthquake hit Nepal, hundreds of people died!

Then the next headline caught my eye: avalanche on Mt. Everest, climbers in danger.

This news struck me as if hit by lightning. I read it over and over again and I couldn’t believe it!

Just 2 weeks before my boyfriend sent me pictures of Kathmandu. A polluted city, yes, but beautiful temples, beautiful people,… It all looked very peaceful!

My flight to Kathmandu was booked for May 10. I would do a trekking to Everest Base Camp and meet my boyfriend when he would come down from the summit at May 20.

Now, I just wondered if he was still alive. If I would ever see him again. I was dumbstruck and tried to blink away the headlines, the stories. No, it was all too real. A disaster really hit Nepal and Mt. Everest and my boyfriend was in danger.

After reading a few stories, I discovered that the avalanche started at 12.40 local time. When I checked my phone, the last picture he sent me was just 2 hours before the avalanche and he was ice climbing. (He was still in Base Camp to acclimatize, but his team was sometimes heading out to train and get used to the high altitude). So, I knew he was not at the tents and feared for the worst.

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Base Camp after it got hit by an avalanche…

A couple of hours later (it seemed an eternity), his sister sent me a message. My boyfriend had sent her a message that many people died, but he was just injured, nothing serious, he told her. The relief I felt was immense. At least, he survived! Now, let’s hope for his rescue!!

The whole evening, friends and family have been trying to contact people on Mt. Everest, I have been scanning any website I could find that said something about Nepal. Finally, a mutual friend of ours, also a mountaineer, could reach my boyfriend’s guide and she told him that there were many people injured, some women serious, but everyone survived and was at Base Camp.

After this, I could sleep for a few hours.

The next morning, today Sunday 26 January, I went to work. I am working as an English teacher on the weekends. I was convinced that he would be rescued today with a helicopter. I told myself that everything will be ok. I arrived at work and all of a sudden my friend texted that there were casualties in my boyfriend’s team, among the members and the sherpa’s. I broke down, went back home and cried.

I kept on repeating to myself what I told my boyfriend a few weeks ago and what I repeated to him a few times ever since: there are risks at climbing Mt. Everest, but think about life, don’t think about death. So, I kept on telling myself: think about life – think about life – everything will be ok!

2 hours later came the news: My boyfriend is alive! He has a minor back injury, but will be fine. At least 1 member died (the news of several deaths, in their team at least, was not true). The injured can’t be rescued yet, due to bad weather, but they took them to Periche, which is at 4250m and has a hospital.

Right now, I am still waiting for further news!

Let’s all send our positive thoughts to the survivors and the people who lost loved ones. Let’s think about life! Let’s hope for a quick recovery of this beautiful country and its people!