shan chi kung

Tien Shan Chi Kung

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Located in the most pure part of the world is a quiet little qigong retreat. At 7000 ft altitude, it is close to the top of the Andes mountains and the Podacarpus National Park, which has more biodiversity than any other place on Earth. The neighbors are far down the mountain and can neither be seen nor heard so it feels isolated and remote. It has been found this area has the cleanest air and purest water in the world, and many have commented on the peacefulness and strong sparkling energy they feel in this high altitude paradise.

Steve is a qigong master, tai chi and kung fu adept, and kung fu brother of Bruce Lee (because he and I had the same main teacher). We practice qigong, tai chi, and self defense, which is very soft and effective. Steve wrote a book about his journey into mystical Taoism which you can read if you are curious to learn more, titled A Lineage of Dragons. You are also invited to ask philosophical questions about Taoism.

This is the wrong place for those who want to come here to learn the culture, because we are so isolated.

A video you can watch to see what it is like here: Video for volunteers

All the basic foods are supplied. There is seasonal fruit and greens growing here plus foods like Oatmeal, bananas, rice, eggs, pasta, bread, cooking oil, potatoes, carrots, etc. are provided. You can shop for other foods, like chocolate, olive oil, avocados, coffee, tomatoes, bell peppers, sardines, hamburger, etc. There is an outdoor kitchen for volunteers so you can prepare your meals as you wish. Sometimes I eat only one meal a day, sometimes I snack on a few things throughout the day, and other times I eat almost nothing for some days. Therefore we do not normally have formal meals together. Everyone eats when and where they want.

Make sure to check the suggested list of supplies that you should bring.

It gets cold at night when it is clear up here closer to outer space. So bring warm layers.

Those with degenerative diseases and those who take injectable medicines or drugs are not allowed.

Drinkers and smokers not allowed.

If you think the world is flat then don't come here.

Typical seasonal weather, check this to be prepared: Weather

Types of learning opportunities

We can see the local highest mountain peak and the top ridge of the continental divide, to which we can drive in an hour. If volunteers want to, and help pay for car use, we can drive there, on a clear day you can look down into the Amazon highlands on the other side.

The main cultural exchange available here is exposure to Taoist thinking, philosophy, and its various arts. Sometimes people go to Vilcabamba for the weekend to socialize and party.

You can go for walks up to the mountaintop on the property or take a hike on a private road that goes pat the house and way up into the rugged mountain wilderness towards the top of the Andes. There are a lot of trails going all over the property, some going to interesting and exotic little hiding places, which make good meditation spots. There is also a trail which goes down to the highway which can be used to visit the nearby town of Yangana.

We have German Shepherds, cats, chickens, horses, almost no mosquitos, and a horse saddle.

Types of Help

A lot of the work consists of weeding in the garden and around the fruit trees, which can be done sitting on the ground, a pleasant and relaxing meditational experience. There is weedwacking and some lawn mowing. There is roaming the porperty to remove evil invasive weeds that threaten to take over, cutting bushes and removing blackberries to open up trails for the grazing animals and hikers. Sometimes there is digging in the hard ground, and transporting rocks, gravel, bricks and cement for construction projects, which is hard heavy work.

The deal is you work 20 hours a week, but the timing is flexible. You can work more hours for fewer days and have longer weekends off. We also need to work around the weather. If it is rainy in the morning we start later, if it is rainy all day, which is rare, we work indoors if there is indoor work, or take the day off and make up for it another day. On hot sunny days you can start early in the mornings, take a long mid day break with siesta, and do more in the later afternoon when it is often cloudier and cooler. Some of the work is required and other jobs are elective/voluntary, so that you can pick what you prefer.


There are five cabins, all rustic wood structures with tin roofs and dirt floors. One with two beds is closer to the house and fluch toilet, which is normally reserved for ladies or first arrivals. There is another cabin a couple of minutes up from the house, and there are three A frame cabins which are about a five minute hike down the mountain to a secluded spot in the trees. The A frame cabins are a lot like a big tent with a soiid roof, and wood sleeping platforms off the ground. They can accomodate up to three mattresses (for three friends) but normally only have one and sometimes two. The last four cabins have dry composting toilets.

Supplies to Bring

1. Light/medium weight sleeping bag.

2. Layers of insulated thermal pants and shirts to stay warm in the cold evenings.

3. Towel, washcloth, your own soap and shampoo,toothpaste, etc.

4. Flashlight and/or headlight.

5. Hiking boots or tough boots and good sandals (optional), (not flip flops).

6. Warm jacket and possibly rain jacket depending on the season, umbrellas are good.

7. Ultraviolet proof sun glasses.

8. Full brim sun hat (not baseball cap), and warm hat (optional)

9. Lightweight long sleeve shirts and long pants for sun and ultraviolet protection, cotton is best.

10. Bring food that you like which we don't provide, check the food listing above.

Many previous volunteers have bought rubber boots and left them here, so you probably don't need to buy any to keep you feet dry as you walk around the farm.

Optional items you may want:

11. Water bottle and water filter. We have filtered water available but there are springs in various places where you can also get water.

12. Insulated mug for tea or coffee.

13. Umbrella during wet season.

What else...

During time off there are places to hike in the mountains from here, from ridge and mountaintops with very long views of endless mountains to deep dark canyons with waterfalls. There is even a mountain top on the property which you can walk to, from the house, in about twenty minutes. A great place to go to watch fabulous expansive sunsets. You can find beautiful private spots on the property to meditate in. You can go to the popular nearby tourist town of Vilcabamba for partying and socializing.

You can walk on a trail to the nearest sleepy little mountain town of Yangana to shop for food or treats, or visit with the locals, who are friendly.

If you want to come here and are not a member of WorkAway, WWOOF, or HelpX, then you will need to provide a profile type of self description, like those volunteer websites have. Your name, age, nationality, work history, hobby type interests, work interests, picture(s) of yourself, and why you would like to come here.

shan chi kung