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Barry from Australia is a questioning soul who looks at social issues from an alternative point of view and instead of asking, “Why?”, he asks “Why not?” He’s convinced that many of his previous incarnations were spent in China. He feels drawn to the people there; attracted by their rich culture and way of life. If given one wish from God, he’d reply, “I want everyone on Earth to be the same colour, speak the same language, and treat each other as they themselves would like to be treated.”
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My China Trip - Day 13 我的中国之行—第13天    

By Barry Pittman
7205 Views | 36 Comments | 6/7/2014 6:50:00 PM

It was 7.30am, my usual time to get up.  I was still sleeping alone in the QinLi hotel in Shawan each evening.  Tina and her daughter Wendy were located fifteen or twenty minutes walk away.  By all appearances, I was leading a perfectly respectable life -  the gossip merchants in Tina’s apartment block had no cause to talk too much about either her or me.  A single Chinese woman would tend to be frowned upon, if it was noticed a man staying with her overnight.  “Saving face” is an important concept in China.



Having been in Shawan for nearly a week, I still hadn’t seen a single person taller than me in the town.  At 188cm, I was literally head and shoulders above most of the inhabitants.   I think I was the only Westerner in this place also.  So being both tall as well as being Western made me an object of curiosity.



Wherever I went here, Chinese men and women tended to stare at me.  This wasn’t a worry, merely an observation. Soon enough I’ll be gone and the townsfolk will’ve lost a local talking point!



Tina and I jumped on a bus here the other day.  It was full of school kids, around eight to twelve years old.  Clearly they’d never seen a Westerner in the flesh before, particularly a lanky beanstalk like me.  Their mouths dropped and they stared intently, some giggling.  I smiled at them and suddenly the tension was broken, they all started laughing and having fun, as any group of mischievous kids would do around the world.  I’m sure my presence with them on the bus for just a few minutes gave them some memories they’ll maintain for a while, re the towering strange man with funny round eyes that they saw on the bus.  Maybe my presence will one day become the stuff of myth and legend, as these kids grow up and tell their own children, about the giant man with eyes the size of dinner plates that they once saw on the bus as a child.



Tina told me today was different as we all were to have lunch with her parents.  Her father was 81;  her mother 75. I presume they’d been married for around fifty or so years.  Daughter Wendy was 16 and was home today.  We were all to have a grand lunch together as a family unit.



The fact that Tina had felt free enough to introduce me to her daughter and now to her parents was a propitious indicator of how things were going between us. By all appearances, things were heading the right way.  But who was it who once said, “appearances can be deceiving”?  I’ve traversed too many dry gullies full of nothing but rolling and dessicated tumbleweeds  - crossed too many apparently beckoning bridges that turned out to disappointingly lead to nowhere  -  to take anything for granted these days.



I thought we were to eat lunch at the parent’s house but as it transpired, we all met up in one of the local upmarket restaurants.  The food there was delicious, clearly a cut above what we’d been ingesting at the smaller sidewalk cafes and kitchens we’d frequented over the past couple of weeks.



Tina’s parents met me, smiling and shaking hands.  Her father in particular looked good for an 81 year old.  He’d been an English teacher some twenty odd years ago but these days only recalled a few words such as “hello” and “goodbye”.  Sometime during China’s “cultural revolution” period in the 1970s and early 1980s, he’d been imprisoned for a year for speaking out against the powers that be.  I wondered how his hapless family of three daughters and wife would’ve survived back in those turbulent times, with the breadwinner suddenly gone?



Tina’s mother said nothing much during the meal.  She looked slightly uncomfortable, I thought.  Maybe I was wrong?



Wendy was the best English speaker in the room, apart from myself.  She reveled in acting the role of translator from time to time, as we all shared pleasantries amongst ourselves.  Tina’s English ability was fair at around a five out of ten level, but there were some words or phrases she simply couldn’t comprehend.  From time to time, she’d drag out her big screen cell phone, that had a Chinese/English translation app installed into it.  Over the course of my time here, this had proven invaluable at odd times, when Tina simply had no idea of what I’d been trying to say.



Sometimes Wendy acted a little mischievously, laughing at her mother’s slightly lower English ability, saying something like,



“Barry said the meal’s very nice  -  he didn’t say what you thought he said!”



Finally it was time to go.  I shook hands again with the parents and they were off. They’d hardly said a word to me during the lunch, but that was to be expected, I guess. Different languages, different cultures.  I inwardly wondered though what they really thought about me?  Were they concerned perhaps, that this strange man may be taking their prized daughter away from them to a distant land?  With just a minimum of communication between us, did they have any idea really of who I was or what my real character was like?



As these reflective misgivings floated idly through my head, suddenly Tina gave me a peck on the cheek, saying she thought things went well.



“Please don’t worry, Barry.  I’m sure they like you!”  



In the late afternoon, we headed up to the foothills around Shawan.  The town itself has an interesting character to it. Let me explain a little.



The character of my home town, Brisbane Queensland is that it’s rather flat, friendly and featureless, unless one’s near the city centre where a pleasant river runs beside a bunch of glassy skyscrapers .



I once lived for two years in Denver Colorado.  The character there revolved around the Rockies.  Wherever you were in the city, on one side lay an imposing range of magnificent snow capped mountains.  Roosevelt had famously once described them as a national treasure that “bankrupted the English language in trying to describe its beauty”.  And he was right.



The character of Shawan is that on one side, a tree covered set of mountains exists close by, yet none so high to have snow.  And on the other side of the city, lay a wonderful array of bushy hills covered in many tracks and trails.  A truly great training ground for serious bushwalkers and hikers.  I instantly saw how and where Tina’s legs of iron had become so steely and well developed over the past ten or so years she’d frequented this region, nearly every day.



Tina and I hiked around this hilly area late this afternoon.  One had to cross over the Shawan Bridge in order to reach it.  I began jogging and soon enough left Tina behind.  The same thing happened in the bushy foothills – with my long legs, I was able to regularly outpace her.  Yet the mystery remains that on the steep Mt Emei slopes a few days earlier, she’d made me feel like a fifty pound weakling, as I choked on the dust left by her fast moving, centipede-like feet!



In this area, I was particularly enthralled by the small vegetable gardens and ancient looking farmer’s houses hidden away from the roads.  At one stage I passed a few Chinese men, one of whom started jabbering furiously and pointing to me.



“What’s that man saying?”, I asked Tina.



“Oh, he’s telling his friends how strange it is to see a Westerner up here!”, she laughed.



During this exercise time with Tina, my mind wandered back to how this all had come about.  My experiences with Chinese online dating had proven one thing to me.  The fact that one must persevere.  Through two separate stints on the ChinaLoveMatch.net website, over a period of months, I’d brushed up against literally hundreds of ladies. My emotions during this time were like a roller coaster, up one day, then down the next.



Sometimes I’d felt like quitting, wondering if all the effort was worthwhile.  Meeting one’s supposed soul mate was way more difficult than I’d imagined.  Sure, there were beautiful Chinese and Asian ladies everywhere.  But I was searching for more than skin deep, superficial charm.  This is where Tina came in.  Her true quality cannot be captured by still photographs. It lay much deeper than her skin.  She possesses an inner beauty  - an elusive harmony of both soul and spirit  - that’s quite unusual and difficult to fully describe in mere words.



Outer beauty fades over time. Inner beauty doesn’t.  In fact, rather than evaporating, often it grows and matures ever more gracefully and powerfully with the inexorable passing of the years.



This is what was most important to me, the elusive golden fleece I’d been searching for all my life.



Had I at last found it?



早上7点半,通常我都会在这个时候起床。每天晚上,我仍然一个人独自在沙湾的QinLi宾馆睡觉。Tina和她女儿Wendy住在离这里步行15-20分钟远的地方。无论从哪个方面来说,我的生活方式都非常的完美体面。TINA公寓区的八卦主子们也没有任何理由对我或是她讲太多闲话。如果一个单身中国女人被发现和一个男人一起过夜的话,会被人们说三道四的。在中国,“保全名声面子”是非常重要的。



我在沙湾已经呆了差不多一个星期,还是没见到过一个比我更高的人。188CM的身高,显然让我比大多数的居民高出一个头来。事实上,我想我是这个地方唯一的一个西方人。个子高又是个西方人这两点让我成为人们好奇的对象。



所以,无论我走到哪,中国人总是盯着我看。这并没有让我觉得烦恼。他们仅仅是在观察。很快我就会离开的,市井百姓们也很快就不会再讨论我了。



有一天,我和TINA坐公交车。公交车上满是学生,大约812岁左右。很显然他们之前都没有亲眼见过一个西方人,特别是象我这么象豆茎一样瘦高的西方人。他们张大着嘴,专心的盯着我看,有些人紧张地咯咯笑。我朝他们微笑。突然紧张感消失了,他们全部开始笑了起并又重新开始互相打闹,就跟世界上任何地方的任何一群调皮的小朋友们一样。我确信我和他们一起在公交车上的几分钟他们在很长时间之内都会记得--某一天在公交车上,有一个很高的很奇怪的有着一对有趣的眼睛的男人。也许,我的存在,在某一天会成为一个神秘的故事,当这些小朋友长大后,他们会告诉自己的孩子们,当他们是小孩子的时候,有一天他们曾在公交车上见过一个眼睛跟餐盘一样大的跟巨人一样的男人。



TINA告诉我今天是个不一样的日子,我们会跟她父母一起吃饭。她的父亲81岁,母亲75岁。我猜想他们结婚已经有50年左右了。她16岁的女儿WENDY今天也在家。我们今天会象一家人一样聚餐。



TINA很自然的将介绍我给她女儿,现在又将我介绍给她父母认识,这个事情是个好兆头,意味着我们之间进展得不错。从各方面看来,事情都朝着正确的方向发展。但是,是谁曾经说过“表象往往会迷惑人”?我已经穿过了太多除了满是滚动的干燥的蒲公英之外别无一物的沟沟渠渠,走过了太多看起来是多么诱惑人却令人失望的证实是哪儿也去不的桥梁,所以,现在的我,对任何事情都不会想当然的看待。



我想我们会在她父母家吃午餐,但是最后是我们都在当地一家超级市场的餐馆里会面。那里的食物非常的美味,显然比我们过去一两个星期以来经常去的小咖啡馆和食堂高级好多。



TINA的父母和我见面,微笑和握手。她的父亲81岁了看起来尤其健康。20多年前他是一个英语老师,但是现在只记得一些简单的单词了,比如“你好”和“再见”。在1970年到1980年期间的中国“文化大革命”期间,因为公开反对当权者他曾经入狱一年。我很想知道,突然没有了他这个家庭顶梁柱,在那个动荡的年代里,他那无助的家庭,他的妻子和三个女儿到底是如何生存过来的啊?



整餐饭,TINA的母亲都不怎么说话。我想她看起来有一点不太舒服。也许我错了?



整间房里,除了我自己之外,WENDY的英文说得最好。她时不时充当了翻译的角色,在我们之间分享着快乐的时光。TINA的英语水平约为10级之中的第5级,但是总是有一些单词或词语她就是不明白是什么意思。她时不时就会把装有中英翻译软件的大屏幕手机拿出来。我在那里的时候,当TINA就是不知道我说的是什么意思的时候,这个软件显得相当的有价值。



Wendy有时候很顽皮,笑话她妈妈稍微差一些的英文水平,说一些这样的



BARRY说饭菜很好他并没有说你想的那些意思。”



最后,午饭结束了。我又和她的父母握手告别,然后他们就先走了。整餐饭他们都没有跟我说话,但是,我猜,他们是应该要跟我说话的。不同的语言,不同的文化。我心里暗暗寻思着他们是怎样看待我的呢?也许他们在担心,这个奇怪的男人会把他们为之骄傲的女儿从他们身边带走,带到一个遥远的地方去。我们之间仅有的一丁点的交流,他们会真看得出来我是谁或是我是怎样的人吗?



当我的头脑里全是这些疑虑和不安时,突然TINA在我的脸颊上亲了一下,说她觉得事情很顺利。



BARRY,请不要担心,我确信他们喜欢你!”



下午晚些时候,TINA和我径直去沙湾周围的山丘。小镇它本身就有一个非常有意思的特色。让我来稍稍解释一下。



我的家乡布里斯班的特点是,它非常的平坦,友好,毫无特别之处。除非在城市的中央,在玻璃镜般的摩天大楼旁边流淌着一条舒适的小河。



我曾经在科罗拉多州的丹佛生活过两年。那个地方的特点有各种各样的岩石山。无论你在城市中的哪个地方,你总可以看到壮观的令人难忘的雪山封顶的山峰。罗斯福就曾经将这个地方形容为这个国家的特色“在试图描述它的美的时候英语词汇显得如此的贫乏”。是的,他说的很正确。



沙弯的特点是,在一面,有很多山,但是没有一座会高到会有白雪覆顶,最起码夏天的时间里没有。而城市的另一面,有一大排绝妙的灌木丛生的小山,上面布满了各种山间小道。对于严肃的登山者来说真的是一个非常好的训练基地。我现在可以知道TINA钢铁般的双腿是如何和在哪里练成的了。过去十年左右的时间里她经常来这一带,几乎是每一天都来。



在下午晚些时候,TINA和我围着这些地方爬山。要来到这里得走过沙湾桥。我开始慢跑,很快就把TINA远远地甩在了后面。在那些灌木丛生的小山处,同样的事情发生了,我的大长腿让我很快的超过她了。然而,几天前在峨嵋山上,她经常让我觉得自己就象是个50磅重的虚弱的人,她飞快移动的脚步掀起的尘山让我窒息。这仍然象是个谜一样。



在这个地方,那些小菜园和看起来很古老的离公路很远的农舍让我觉得特别的着迷。有一个时候,我经过一些中国男人。其中一个男人开始很大声和很快的说话,并且指着我。



“那个男人在说什么啊?”我问tina



哦,他在告诉他的朋友们在这里看到一个西方人真的好奇怪啊。“她笑道。



在和TINA一起做运动的时间里,我的思绪不禁飞回最开始的时候,想着这一切都是如何发生发展起来的。我的中国网络交友经验证实了一件事。这就是一个人必须坚持不懈。在chinalovematch这个网站,几个月的时间里,分别的两次会员期,毫不夸张的说我遇到了上百个女人。在这段时间里,我的感觉就象是一只滚动的过山车,一天情绪高昂,而另一天则垂头丧气。



有时候我感觉自己想放弃了,思考着所有的努力是否值得。寻找一个人的心灵伴侣远比我所想像的要难得多。当然,这里到处都是美丽的中国女人和亚洲女人。但是我想找的不仅仅是外表的美丽,肤浅的吸引力。这时候TINA出现了。她真正的特质是不能用静止的相片来捕捉的。她的美丽深藏在外表之下。她有一种内在的美,一种难以捉摸的心灵和灵魂的和谐。这仅仅用语言是很难于完全表达得出来的。



外表的美丽随着时光而流逝。内在的美丽就永远不会流逝。事实上,随着无情的岁月的流逝,内在的美会不断的成长成熟,越来越优雅,越来越有力量,而不是随时间蒸发。



这对于我来说是最重要的,这如黄金一般闪耀的难能可贵的品质是我终其一生都在寻找的。



“我终于找到了吗?




Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
Comments
(Showing 1 to 10 of 36) 1 2 3 4 More...
#2014-06-22 13:10:08 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Barry, basically I'm starting to think you've just been teasing us.

First, you made a pretty revealing comment yesterday. Most people maybe didn't see it because it was going back a few parts of the series, but I couldn't miss it.

Now you tell us that you've met the family (parents) and Tina assured you that all went well. That doesn't leave much doubt about her intentions towards you. So what's all this fuss about your having your doubts?

To make matters worse you tease us with that pic of you at an ATM, and leave us to wonder if you finally did the good deed (no Paul, I'm not talking about sex) and paid Tina her expenses or not.

You are toying with us my friend, toying with us. (headbang)

However, having said that, I want to clarify for you, and more importantly for others, that I realize and so should everyone else, that you're an intelligent and adult man with a good heart, so I have no doubt that by now you have had frequent discussions with Tina about paying her, that it is all worked out between you, and that we can probably all relax on that issue and get on with other more important things.

Like satisfying Paul and Grace172's (@paulfox1 and @grace172 ) unquenchable thirst to know if you and Tina have done the dirty deed yet? (Yes Paul, this time I am talking about sex.) :)

#2014-06-22 21:04:51 by Barry1 @Barry1

@JohnAbbot

May I respond to a few things you mentioned?

"I'm starting to think you've just been teasing us."

The answer to this is no, John. I haven't been playing silly games with anyone here.

You also said,

"So what's all this fuss about your having your doubts?"

The answer to this may be revealed in upcoming episodes. I can't say too much at this time because this is an evolving series, a moving feast, if you will.

You also mentioned,

"I have no doubt that by now you have had frequent discussions with Tina about paying her, that it is all worked out between you"

The answer to this is both yes and no. That is, I've mentioned the issue frequently but the situation is not yet fully resolved.

You asked "if you and Tina have done the dirty deed yet?"

Please let me defer to one of the answers above and say this is an evolving series and an answer may (or may not?) be revealed in due course. (wasntme)

#2014-06-22 23:32:49 by prana @prana

Barry, you and Tina's parents met, and this is good news, do not worry.
However, if Tina was the only child, you might be doing inserted down the door of the son-in-law.
Tina is a nice lady, I congratulate you!
I believe that if you love one another, cultural differences are not a problem.
Refueling!(muscle)

#2014-06-23 06:45:13 by anonymous10627 @anonymous10627

Barry, unless I have lost all my internal instincts and the function of my chickdar, you have been hooked, reeled in and landed my friend! I also mentioned in a comment on your day 12 episode you made a comment that I think most people aside from myself and John did not pick up on.

It sounds like Dada approved of you and Mama may have some doubts still, but you do not get to meet Mama and Dada unless Tina is serious about you as a partner and potential husband and you have proved your worth in "all" ways.(rock)

Some women here will say it means nothing but we all know it is very big step in your relationship......unless you are trying to pull the proverbial wool over our eyes?? (party)

All as I can say now is good on yuh mate and I am green with envy........

#2014-06-23 14:44:42 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

@Barry1 - Hmmm, all those responses sound a lot like you're teasing us ;)

#2014-06-23 15:45:53 by woaizhongguo @woaizhongguo

So now the important question (which is related to John's "dirty deed" question): who paid for lunch? You needed to pick up the bill, my friend, so I hope you found some way to, and if you did, your experience would certainly be helpful to other Westerners who will invariably find theselves in a similar situation. You (and other members) may think this is much ado about nothing. But it is no small matter who pays the bill in China. A sign that an issue is important is how much people fight over the issue. And people fight like cats and dogs in China about who pays the bill because what's at stake is the all important issue of face.

#2014-06-23 17:58:52 by Barry1 @Barry1

@prana

”Tina is a nice lady, I congratulate you!“

You are also a very nice lady, Prana - please never forget this.

I feel like refueling sometimes also. So I understand what you mean when you say this.

Best wishes to you, Prana. :)

#2014-06-23 18:16:19 by Barry1 @Barry1

@anonymous10627

"you have been hooked, reeled in and landed my friend!"

Thanks for your discerning attentiveness to my story, Anon10627. But sometimes appearances can be deceiving. This may be discussed down the track a little in my evolving series.

You also said,

"All as I can say now is good on yuh mate and I am green with envy"

Thanks so much, Anon10626.

But you know what they say........

"It ain't over till the fat lady sings" (think)

#2014-06-23 18:56:13 by Barry1 @Barry1

@JohnAbbot

"all those responses sound a lot like you're teasing us"

I'm treating this journey as a serious one, John. In turn, I hope the articles reflect this. So teases, lead ons, baits and tantalisations are not part of my aim.

This in fact may be part of the reason why I've suffered so much gratuitous personal abuse in this series. Because everything I say is the truth as I see it at that moment. I'm not trying to cover things up, ameliorate or sugar coat them.

Perhaps now may be the time to address all the armchair critics out there.

If you think you can write something better or present yourself more favorably than my warts 'n all, honest account here has so far done, then why don't you do it? Rather than snidely sitting on the sidelines, taking cheap shots and offering unwarranted insults or other disrespectful, demeaning comments, where they're not appreciated, asked for - nor wanted?

This is particularly directed to those gutless wonders who do this under an "Anonymous" pseudonym.

If you don't like what I'm saying - then DON'T READ IT. Buzz off and annoy someone else.

It's all very simple really, isn't it?

#2014-06-24 15:31:42 by Barry1 @Barry1

@woaizhongguo

"who paid for lunch"

Tina paid for the lunch, Woaizhongguo.

Upon reflection however, I can see that you're quite correct in your statements. I should have paid for it. 20/20 hindsight, eh?

I urge all Westerners reading this to follow Woaizhongguo"s good advice. Pay for lunch with the extended family. Don't do as I did. It showed a disrespect - or at the very least, an ignorance - of the cultural torts and norms here.

Thanks for your comments, Woaizhongguo - I won't make the same error again. (y)

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