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Growing up, we all had our favorite stories. My personal favorite was the Harry Potter series; I spent hours and hours immersed in those books. For a lot of Chinese children however, the story they grew up with was called Journey to the West, or XiYouJi. This story was written by Wu Cheng’en, an author who lived during the 16th century in the Ming dynasty. A very famous piece of literature, it is considered one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature. The novel starts by telling the story of SunWuKong, who was born from a rock. He went on to learn 72 polymorphic transformations and becomes super powerful, powerful enough to challenge the Taoist Gods.
The story goes on to tell about SunWuKong’s great rebellion against heaven, where he basically goes around and beats up everyone in the sky by himself. Eventually however, his arrogance leads to his downfall, and the Buddha manages to trap him under a mountain for five hundred years. The story then jumps to the introduction of Tang XuanZang, who is instructed by the Gods to go east to India on a pilgrimage and retrieve the Buddhist Sutras. After setting out on his journey, Xuan Zang bumps into SunWuKong who is still trapped under a mountain. With the help from the gods, Xuan Zang frees SunWuKong and takes him on as a disciple.
He also meets a pig named ZhuBaJie and an ogre named ShaWuJing. Together, the 4 of them walk west towards their eventual goal of LeiYingSi. Along the way, they encounter nine thousand nine hundred eighty one hardships, including crossing treacherous rivers, fighting off monsters who want to eat XuanZang, and battling through a mountain of fire. The majority of the book describes their journey from the Tang Capitol, all the way to LeiYingSi. Once they arrive at their destination, they retrieve the sutras and return to China.