FORT DE SOTO PARK IN SAINT PETERSBURG
Chris and David on top of Fort de Soto
The "Four Gates" course at Saint Petersburg, Florida from 11th to 14th Novemeber 2016 was fantastic. Eugene, who returned home earlier to New York, specially flew in to join us.
"Four Gates" was the fundamental set at the southern Shaolin Monastery at Quanzhow at the time when the Qing Army burned the monastery to the ground. Our first patriarch, the Venerable Jiang Nan, transmitted the set and art in our lineage. During the course I felt the presence of my sifu, Sifu Ho Fatt Nam. Some senior students also shared this experience. I portrayed to thank him for his blessings and guidance.
The following day after the memorable course, 15th November 2016, Chris, David and I visited Fort de Soto Park. We started of with a delicious breakfast in a restaurant where Christina joined us, and later left for her parents' house to look after her children.
The Fort de Soto Park has been consistently rated as one of the top beaches in the United States, and is a designated park with protected habitats for engendered animals. Chris, David and I went to a long pier on the beach with ferries going to nearby islands. The view was alluring with the cement pier jutting long into the sea, and tall lamp posts with many big birds perching on top.
We went to the beach with pure white sand. Despite its beauty, there were not many people around, probably because the locals did not want it to be congested. It was quiet, peaceful and beautiful.
There was a restaurant nearby where a few people enjoyed their drinks and lovely scenery. There were also many bikes for rent. Some of these bikes had two wheels, which we usually called bicycles except they were more colorful. Many of them had four wheels, with pedals to make the bikes move, and a little cushioned seat in front for skall children. They looked like fanciful cars to me.
We visited the ruins of the fort. There was a long cannon behind the fortification, indicating the Spanish soldiers who managed it in the past did not want their enemies to attack them from behind.
We found some cave-like compartments in the fort, and entered one which was dark inside. But we soon hurried out, not because we could not see much in the dark but because of some urinal smell. But this smell was not as compelling as the one at the busy Chennai Railway Station in India which I had the opportunity to visit some years ago to see if it was true that passengers clinched gingerly on train tops. The clinching was not true, but the smell was unforgettable.
As we walked further along Fort de Soto, we found more cannons, which were shorter but fatter than the long cannon we saw earlier. These fat cannons were enclosed in enclaves behind the fort, which was actually a small hill.
"I don't think the soldiers managing the cannons would shoot their own fort." I commented.
"No, Sifu. The cannon would fire over the small hill to hit enemy boats at sea. The soldiers managing the cannons were protected in the enclaves." Chris knowledgeably answered.
"Ah, I see. The soldiers were very intelligent. There must be other soldiers on top of the hill to guide the firing of cannons."
There were cement stairs leading to the top of the hill. We went up and had a panoramic view of the sea and beach. It was majestic, as most scenes viewed from above usually were.
Then we drove to the luxurious house of Christina's parents, Fred and Penny. Christina met us at the door, her and Chris' children greet us with excitement, and Penny welcomed us with drinks. David called a taxi to take him to the Tampa airport where he flew home to Los Angeles.
Fred soon returned from a meeting, and showed him his smaller boat. His luxurious yacht, which I rode in some years ago, was in another dock being repainted. Fred told me interesting stories of his adventures at sea, like winning a boat race to Mexico, which more than 30 yachts took part and sailing in his luxurious yacht across the Atlantic to Denmark.
Chris then took me back to my hotel, letting Christina play with the children in their grandparents' house.
On the way, Chris asked me a welcomed question.
"Sifu, would you like to have lunch before going back to the hotel?"
"Yes, but we must have some delicious food."
We settled in a seafood restaurant and had fresh blackened grouper. It was one of the best meals I had. So I was fully happy when I returned to the hotel to play with my computer.
Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
16th November 2016
Penny, me, Christina, Chris and their children at Penny's house