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Shaolin Temple monks take on tourist guide's role

China,Art/Culture/Books,Business/Economy,Religion, Mon, 26 Mar 2012 IANS

Beijing, March 26 (IANS) Monks at the famous Buddhist monastery Shaolin Temple in China are endeavouring to make a visit to the holy site a joy for all. A part of this attempt is introduction of free tourist guides.


At least 20 monks have been working as free tourist guides at the Shaolin Temple since February, the China Daily reported.


According to the temple's publicity director Zheng Shumin, these guides include graduates from Buddhist colleges and each one has received a two-week training.


The new guide service simply extended the temple's practice of asking monks to lead groups when important figures visited or during major Buddhism events, said Zeng.


"It's an honour to introduce the temple's glorious history to visitors," said Yan Xin, a monk in his 20s.


While attending to two groups, Yan interpreted ancient poems engraved in stone tablets, and narrated stories related to various calligraphy and painting works.


"I practice martial arts every day and remain in good physical shape, so I don't feel tired," he said.


The free tour guide service was set up after the temple was criticised by the National Tourism Association for its poor conditions and services.


The criticism came after the association found disorderly parking facilities, an abundance of over-bearing souvenir sellers, as well as many people dressed like monks offering fortune-telling services or products.


"These monks are very patient, and their introductions always enlighten me because I believe in the Buddhist religion," said a visiting college student Yang Chaofei.


"It was a totally different experience compared to the guides from commercial tourism companies," he added.


Located in Henan province, the 5th century Shaolin Temple is famous for its association with Chinese martial arts, particularly with Shaolin Kung Fu.


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