Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Porn Addiction

I too was surprised when i got out of the Mount Emei monastery and into a hotel room to see how much grip pornography had over me. "Ok, I'll just finish this email and blog and then I can browse Redtube." (Redtube is one of countless sites which has evaded the censors so far). But then it was mere seconds before I'd peeked at Redtube, 'cause hey I might as well start the streaming so it's ready when i finish my chores, and... etc etc. Next thing you know 1 hr of porn clips later, i'm realizing my intended 4 hrs of meditation that day is quickly becoming an impossibility.

Then back to Beijing.

Q comes across a porn site on my computer and asks if i was jerking off. "Of course" was my answer. But later she confides that my porn consumption really bugs her, and she feels disrespected by it. I never felt that i was disrespecting her by using porn, though i generally kept it out of sight since i know she's not into it. Nonetheless i can totally understand her feeling that way.

At first i wished that she was a Savage Love devotee, like myself, as Dan always staunchly defends moderate usage of porn by boyfriends and hubbies. See here and here, if you like. But then hey, even i can recognize that porn is one of the less healthy entities in my life. A time killer for sure. In Buddhist terms, it's definitely bad as it's designed to increase craving, craving being the key cause of suffering. Funny, Dan never takes the Buddhist angle.

Anyhow, though i don't think i'll ax porn out of my life quite yet, i'm doing a month without. Which has been going... great! No prob! Although i have debated about where a website like fits in. Hmmm.

This porn break also fits in w/ a Meditate Every Day in February stint that a bunch of people are doing.

Well let's see if everything keeps under control in another few weeks.

And hey, that's RON JEREMY in the pic there. Dang, what a surprisingly decent-looking hunk he once was.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Holiday Recap

2 weeks on the road.
Chengdu, Leshan, Mount Emei, Chongqing.

Chengdu city for Chinese New Year celebrations. Massiveassive crowds in select parks and Buddhist temples. Reminded me of Lollapolooza crowds all crammed in and heaving. Except no hipsters, and throw in all the old people and toddlers.

Saw some dance and singing performances which were reasonably entertaining. One charismatic singer had a good voice, but i didn't care since i assumed he was lip syncing. I was shocked and impressed to later realize that (gasp!) he was actually singing!

Also saw some tigers and a bear perform, which was occasionally impressive though constantly rather depressing. Still: i didn't know a bear could really dance!

Visited one of China's oldest rock and roll bars: a bit of a hole in the wall where deliberate attention was paid to local music as opposed to Taiwan pop. I wish Little Bar was in Beijing. Also visited some very slick and somewhat sexed out clubs; yawn.

Then i went to see the world's biggest Buddha near Leshan. And yes, it's very large, hence the "-est". However, FOUR hours of line up to see the damn thing kinda sucked out my enthusiasm. It was like, "well, I've waited an hour already, and I'm almost at the front now," only to get released to the next stage of the line, when you go "well, I've already waited 2 hours already so I don't want to leave now." Note to self: reconsider the idea that maybe an early bailout is preferable to another 2 hours of pushing and squeezing people who obviously should NOT even pause to take photos 'cause it slows down the flow.

Add in reflections about how tourism and religion make awkward bedfellows as i consider all the cameras prying the spiritual energy out of this 71 meter high Buddha.

Mount Emei
Note to self: mountains are bigger than I seem to think, based on some attractive but not to scale "maps". Hence i spent 1.5 days getting to the peak, the only dude lugging up a big ol backpack.

Spent the first night in a gorgeous old Xi Xiangchi monastery, where the monks were friendly, and the sunset was breathtaking. Was going to chill there a while, but this family i hiked w/ some convinced me at the last minute that i HAD to continue up to the peak. So i did, skipping out on the cable car ride near the peak. (The masses take buses up the mountain, hiking 1 km of outrageously slippery and dangerous staircases (often in high heels) up to the cable car). But despite my body's fatigued state, that just seemed like too much of a cop out after the distance i'd already covered.

When my snail's pace did finally get me to the peak, the blue sky above, the ocean of clouds below, the sparkling temples, and golden buddha all conspired to bring tears to my eyes. Really i felt elated to be in that stunningly beautiful environment.

Nonetheless after a foggy no-show of the next sunrise, i still bid a hasty retreat bk down the mountain (yes, employing both the cable car and the bus) to get back down the mountain to Baguo Monastery near the base to get in some meditation.

Simple room, just off the courtyard between temple halls, where I could hear the monks chanting each morning and gongs gonging throughout the day. Short stay, but i did get up to 8 hours of sitting in in a day, definitely aided by the environment and concentrated energy there. i chitchatted w/ some monks who to my surprise, invited me to sit in on the chanting the next morning. Wow, those were some otherworldly sounds to be bathed in for 45 minutes. Occasionally in a temple i see Buddhas who are emanating energy, or seem cognizant of your presence. Well no wonder those Buddha statues get all charged up if monks are praying to them like that each day. Pay attention. Hands together. Kneel. Bow. Stand. Hands down. Hands together. Turn. Kneel. March around the room (hands together). Stand. Bow, etc etc. Beautiful way to finish off my stay there.

Next stop: Leshan, just to catch a bus to Chongqing. Tickets sold out. Spend the night in a somewhat dodgy hotel, and waste too much time looking at porn sites, and only sat 2 of my intended 4 hours.

Short stay in a big city. Feels really... Chinese. Coolies hauling boxes up and down the steep streets. Alleys brimming with staircases and vendors. Street foods on constant display. Cruise and cargo ships clogging up the brown waters of the Yangtze river. Posh restaurants with filthy washrooms. Cockroaches strolling past the scalding hot pot at the table centre. Another city that I'd like to revisit: check.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Stinky Tofu

If you haven't heard of stinky tofu, it's a style of fermented tofu which kind of reeks. It's called "chou dofu". The translation of that is literally "stinky tofu". It literally smells like feces. For example one time a few of us came across a pungent smell on the sidewalk and we debated momentarily whether it was stinky tofu or reeking bathroom. Seriously.

About a year ago i was a bit baked, wandering the streets, and decided to try some "chou dofu". Likely enhanced by my altered state, i realized that this tofu wasn't stinky at all, it was... AMAZING! Yup, i chowed that shit down, and wished i had more.

Part 2.

This year, I was in Chengdu, where the food flavours pull no punches, where 50% of the food is spiced in ways that leave you gasping for air, and your tastebuds numb. I was a bit baked so I decided to give the chou dofu another go. Here the style is skewered, fried, and bathed in salt and chili. I could smell the stand a mile away. Unfortunately, i didn't have the same rapturous experience. About 1 minute into my tofu, I realized... it really does taste like shit. Not human shit, but more like horse manure. Of the salty and spicy variety. I wished i'd only bought one instead of 2, considered throwing it away, but decided that would be wasteful and i needed the protein plus ... well, wasn't i trying to embrace the whole chou dofu culture?

Anyhow, I'll wait a bit before i try it again, and frankly i think it is quite a bit milder up north. Do note, however, that this delicacy is truly popular throughout huge swathes of China, east and south Asia... Can millions of stinky tofu eaters be wrong?

pix by

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Heading Out Today

Not yesterday.

Although I did pack my bags and hop on a subway to the railway station, only to receive a phone call from Q and to have her say, "why are you going to the station TODAY? You said you're leaving on the 2nd!"

Oops. This kind of confusion has been long running with me. My bad.

So I'm off today. First I'll pop into a park to see some Chinese New Year festivities. the firecrackers have already started booming around 8 am. Sheesh.

Then overnight train to Chengdu, where i'll hang out for a few days, most likely bypassing the pandas. Pandas: certainly worthwhile if my gf were w/ me, but you know how it is...

Then off to Mount Emei, which is dotted with buddhist temples and tourists, to meditate for... 5 days. Eventually heading to Chongqing, a central historical city in China.

That's roughly it.
Daily itinerary intentions: meditation, reading, studying Chinese, push ups. I'll see if i can do this til work kicks in again.

Later, folks.