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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 20, Part 1 我的中国之行--- 第20天 第1部分    

By Barry Pittman
7620 Views | 32 Comments | 8/6/2014 12:11:08 PM

The alarm woke us at 7.20am.  We had to be sure not to sleep in as today we’d booked our return journey on the bus back to Chengdu, a long eight hour journey.  In fact, we’d planned making a very big day of it and returning all the way to Tina’s home town of Shawan.  This necessitated us to catch a second bus late in the afternoon from Chengdu to Shawan.
早上7点20分闹钟就把我们吵醒了。我们得要确认今天不能睡过头了,因为我们已经定了回成都的大巴旅程,长达8个小时的旅程。事实上, 我们已经计划了好一整天,要赶完所有的路程回到TINA的家乡沙湾。这就必然要求我们得能赶得上在下午坐上从成都开往沙湾的公车。
As I showered and then dressed, an unsettling feeling gnawed away in my stomach.  I’d been in China long enough now to know that the roads were dangerous here.  I know some Chinese folk reading this may become annoyed by my continual grumblings about driving conditions, but I can’t sugar coat things and even if I could, I wouldn't want to.  This is a warts 'n all account of my trip, without exaggeration, decoration or embellishment.
The irrefutable facts are that driving in China is downright dangerous.  I've held a driving licence for over forty years and used to ride around racetracks on high powered motorcycles, so I know what I’m talking about.  Today the continuing conundrum about traveling on the roads in China was to be experienced again.  Should one journey on the highway to get somewhere and see more of the real China  -  or travel on a plane or very fast train, and have a safe yet uninteresting trip? 
Tina had booked the bus tickets for us and so the decision was already made.  We were going to face the fire. Roll the dice and take our chances. The thought of the impending trip lead me to  silently say a quick Hail Mary to myself.  For those who are unfamiliar, this is a prayer for the intercession and blessing of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ.  It goes something like this:
“Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.
I don’t know why I thought of this Catholic prayer in times of stress, as I felt a greater kinship to Buddhism than any other orthodox religion.  Probably I’d seen too many movies on Western television as a kid, where Hail Mary’s were commonly spoken by characters in times of danger.
As we stepped out of the hotel, Tina and I saw it was raining.  My guess was this occurred frequently. 
Visitors to Jiuzhaigou need to be aware of the volatile climatic conditions here.  This is another reason why tourists should ideally plan on spending a few days in the region, in case of bad weather.Visitors thus should always carry an umbrella.  Better than this though, was to have a light waterproof jacket with a hoodie.  A cover for your head.  Using this enabled you to have both hands free, a big advantage over a brolly.  For our Chinese friends, brolly is slang for umbrella.
In my case, I’d used a full can of silicone spray back in Australia, liberally coating both my walking shoes as well as two nylon jackets with it, waterproofing everything.
If visiting in summer, carrying a tube of sunscreen was advisable also.  Acting as a tourist often meant one was out in the sun for many hours per day.  Many Chinese ladies used umbrellas to shade themselves during sunny periods, but to me, simply using plenty of sunscreen achieved the same purpose with less effort.  I guess it’d be a bit cooler under an umbrella but oh, the inconvenience of it.  Plus without an umbrella, there's less risk of inadvertently stabbing someone in the eye with it!
Another interesting snippet I’d noticed on this trip was that as a left hander, people often stared at me if ever I wrote something.  Tina told me this was because in China, writing using one’s left hand was actively discouraged and hence was quite unusual.  Children in school were always taught to write with their right hands, even if they proved to be natural left handers in every other activity.  So my left handed scribblings here often were a source of amusement to native Chinese.
As we passed through the bus terminal ticket area en route to our Chengdu bound coach, I couldn’t help but overhear a young French gentleman who’d just missed his bus to Jiuzhaigou national park.  He was five minutes late  -  it had left already.  I felt sorry for him.  When travelling, one really needed to use an alarm clock in order to avoid situations like this.  Every smart phone these days has an alarm facility built into it, so there’s no good reason why one need miss anything.  My feelings of sympathy for the young man were  soon dissipated though as we were quickly ushered onto our coach.
“Wonderful!” I exclaimed to myself as we clambered aboard it. “Vive la difference!”
The reason I was so pleased was that to our surprise, Tina and I were to sit in the very front row of the bus.  I was also able to sit at a window.  What a pleasure this was compared to the trip up here, where’d I’d been forced to sit away from Tina, next to an annoying lady who kept talking loudly to her friends seated in other parts of the bus.  This garrulous cow had several times prevented me from having a snooze with her loud banter.  I was so glad I’d been able to accidentally shower her with a tub of exploding yoghurt, one of the genuine bright highlights of my whole trip to China!  At the recollection of this, I felt like a mischievous schoolboy but the absolute joy of seeing the shocked look on her yoghurt covered face will remain with me for years to come! 
I know my actions here offended some prim and proper ladies who said my behaviour was "not gentlemanly" and they're no doubt correct.  But gosh, being able to have a good belly laugh every now and then over something ridiculous like this helps keep you young and soothes the soul, in my view.  I'm not a perfect person unfortunately, nor do I pretend to be.  I am however, perfect in my many imperfections.
The fact that we were to sit at the very front of the bus suddenly made me feel a lot happier about the return to Chengdu.  Yet simultaneously in the back of my mind, I knew that if we were going to be involved in a head-on crash, sitting right up the front would almost guarantee a trip to the morgue, rather than a simple stay in hospital.  A crushed body would occur, rather than merely a broken leg or two.  Yet despite these cheerful, optimistic thoughts,  I nevertheless felt  privileged being able to sit in the front row, even though I knew only too well that lurking danger lay ahead of us on the deadly highway ahead.  I felt like an antelope who had to cross a river, yet who knew only too well it was full of marauding crocodiles skulking menacingly below the surface.
Visitors to Jiuzhaigou who value their lives more highly or perhaps are a little timid -  or who have a pacemnaker or any other sort of erratic heart condition   - please be advised to take a plane.
For those braver (more foolhardy?) souls willing to risk a stay in hospital by journeying on a bus however, here are a few traveller's tips. 
The first is to try to get a window seat.  This is definitely more interesting than sitting in an aisle seat, as there’s always something to see along the way.  Unlike a plane, where basically all you can see are things at either the take off or the landing, with nothing but clouds in the middle.
The second tip is to take ear plugs.  These are useful for reducing external noises such as chattering people, blasting horns or the drone of the bus engine.  An eye mask is optional.  If you use a mask, then cover it with sunglasses to make it less obvious you’re wearing one.  Some people may think you’re a little odd for wearing one of these  - but that’s only because they weren’t smart enough to think of the idea themselves!
The third tip is to take a neck cushion.  These cushions are not particularly useful on aircraft seats because of their better design, but on bus seats, they’re quite handy and in fact recommended.   Bus seats are just not as comfortable as aircraft seats as far as head support goes.
The fourth tip is for those amongst us who prefer safety.  They should book a seat that’s toward the rear of the bus.  Statistics show that in the event of a collision, these are the safest bet.  Make sure also that you cast your eyes around the bus, noting where any kick out emergency windows are located.  If you’re lucky enough to be in a bus in China fitted with seat belts – which is unusual  - don’t ignore them, use them.
第四个建议是给那些更注意安全的人的。他们定巴士靠后边的位置。统计数据显示,在撞车事件中,后面的座位是更安全。也要确认多看看巴士一周,注意哪里有紧急窗户。如果你足够幸运的话,在中国的一辆巴士里有安全带的话—这种情况很少--, 请不要无视它,请带好安全带。
The fifth tip is a fairly obvious one.  If you’re in for a long trip, take a bottle of water with you plus a few snacks.  I find chewing gum is helpful also.  Don’t take fermenting yoghurt, unless you happen to be sitting next to someone you don't like!
The sixth tip is to carry tissues in your pockets.  Not every toilet in China has toilet paper.  Also have access to a one yuan bank note – some of the places our bus stopped at on this journey charged us this fee to enter their toilets.  If the truth be known, these places should’ve given us one yuan  - rather than us needing to pay them  -  for what we had to endure when entering them! 
第六个建议是在你的口袋里带纸巾。不是每个中国的厕所都有纸巾。还有,要带一些一块钱在身上 – 在这趟旅途中巴士停下来的一些地方,如果我们上厕所的话都会收取一块钱的费用。事实是,这些地方其实应该给我们一元,而不是我们需要付给他们,因为我们一进去之后不得不忍受的事情。
I’m sorry to say that I found that most of the public toilets in the regional cities in China were of the squat type.  Not being a skilled yoga practioner, I found these unfortunately were nearly impossible to use.  Men prone to bouts of projectile diarrhoea or other unfortunate gastric conditions need to be aware of this.  Whoever it was that said Chinese online dating was not for the weak of heart nor for the weak of bowel was dead set correct!
To be continued – Day 20, Part 


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#2014-08-16 15:55:10 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Barry, Barry, Barry - I am so proud of you. You've managed to sneak in another reference to the Chinese squat toilet. It is always such a pleasure to be given yet another opportunity to picture you squatting like a befuddled and forlorn Giraffe, bare-assed and uncomfortable as if in Hell. What a lovely picture you have painted one more time.

Aside from my joy in being re-introduced to the squat toilet, I thought your tips for Chinese bus travel were the best part of this blog and very helpful. I also, once again, really enjoyed the photos.

However, regarding the photo that mentions "not seeing many birds" I have been in similar situations in China where the lack of birds was very noteworthy. In one preserved wetlands area in Zhejiang I commented to my lovely Chinese wife at how odd it seemed that there were so few birds in a wetlands. She shrugged and replied simply "Birds are edible," Nuff said?

#2014-08-16 16:13:28 by anonymous11457 @anonymous11457


#2014-08-16 18:17:16 by zqy2014 @zqy2014

This article is very informative and with a lot of good suggestion related with a long time bus driving and tour to Jiuzhaigou. We can feel Barry always would like to help others including giving many of good suggestion or reminding.Thanks!

However, your recent articles especial regarding the bus driving did scared me a lot and make me a little hesitation on my possible tour to Jiuzhaigou with my mother who is already over 80 years old. I would absolutely have the exactly same feeling and worrying related with the long time bus driving as Barry has. Besides, the flight is also not good option for me since I used not take much flight rather than a bus or train on the road since I may be a with a little acrophobia.However, I really hope could have chance to see Jiuzhaigou especial my "Mr. right" this or next year since I have seen a lot of positive related comments. I really long for that experience and the natural nature there ..

In addition, from the yoghurt issue, it tell us there is some naughty child inside of us. We sometime need to stop to listen what he/she talking to us and can't simply ignore.

#2014-08-16 21:12:34 by Nekko @Nekko

You make the comment about the no birds. Did you see any other wildlife? I noticed 2 small fish in one of the photos. Is that all there is?

Again you seem to be worried about the bus ride. Barry when your time is up it is up and not before.

You could be at home in bed doing the horizontal tango and your time is up. Or maybe you could be on a bus in China. Makes no difference.

Thank you for the numerous tips for bus trips. One trick I use on the airlines to get the seat I want, is to explain that I am claustrophobic and need and aisle seat or window seat. I hate to be squashed in the middle somewhere.

A bit of demonstrating the uncontrollable spasms I will experience gets me the seat I want every time, even if they have to rearrange the seating. I do not know if this will work on a bus.

Here comes another interesting fact about your person. Tall,188cm, eyes like diner plates and on top of this a left handed person. Not good at yoga. Charming a local lady. Doing the horizontal tango. This you can do, just not the toilet yoga. How convenient. Sarcasm? Yes.

Glad you are enjoying yourself. By the way, my bet is that ...................I tell you later.

#2014-08-17 03:41:12 by anonymous11462 @anonymous11462

Barry once again I love the reflections on the exploding yoghurt container, I truly wished I had an opportunity to see the garrulous cows facial expressions! When and if I ever get a chance to travel by bus with a lovely Chinese woman by my side I will indeed take your advice.

birds are edible..nuff said...scary to think that a supposedly enlightened culture would think this all your food sources and everyone will eventually starve...

Wonderful photos once again...

As a man who has a wonky tummy I am a bit worried about the food quality and the squat toilets....:(

Cant help but admire the gorgeous lady sitting on the walking platform with her legs dangling near the water...was she as gorgeous in person? Since Tina does not read these blogs you are free to answer (giggle)

Lefthanders were forced to write with their right hands when I was a young lad in medieval and archaic thoughts in forcing someone to do something that does not come naturally in this day and age, I am surprised the Chinese still do this...

How bad was the air and land pollution in the city of Chengdu compared to Tina's home city? I have noticed that almost every woman I have chatted with on cam has a mild smokers cough...

Looking forward to your next entry......maybe we will read that Tina said yes? (y)

Cheers mate!

#2014-08-17 08:07:27 by Barry1 @Barry1


Thanks for your comments, John.

I know my observations about various aspects of life in China are probably alienating me from many of the more sensitive Chinese ladies on this site who probably think I'm a crude ruffian, but then again, I don't need these ladies to like me any longer as I now have Tina. :D

#2014-08-17 12:22:57 by anonymous11465 @anonymous11465

This is turning out to be one of the great love stories of all time. First there was Antony and Cleopatra, then Brad and Angelina. And now, Barry and Tina. They are quickly becoming household names. Congratulations for being immortalized in the pantheon of love!

#2014-08-17 13:05:22 by Barry1 @Barry1


"your recent articles especial regarding the bus driving did scared me a lot and make me a little hesitation on my possible tour to Jiuzhaigou with my mother who is already over 80 years old"

If you can't fly in an aircraft to Jiuzhaigou, then I recommend that you book seats on a coach up toward the very rear of it. These will be the safest in the event of a crash. Another tip is to take a mild sedative, dark glasses and ear plugs with you, so that you can more easily doze off during the eight hour journey. This will help considerably.

The Jiuzhaigou area is a "must see" part of China. Avoid weekends or other holiday periods though. Book accommodation ahead and make out a schedule or itinerary of what you'll do each day. There are plenty of small bus tours around the region.

Then do the same thing on the return journey. Take a sedative and try to doze for as long as possible. You and your mother will both be fine, sitting up the back where you can't see or hear anything. (y)

#2014-08-17 13:14:27 by Barry1 @Barry1

"I noticed 2 small fish in one of the photos."

Yes, Nekko, I don't think there's much wildlife in them thar hills, despite their absolute beauty. It's a real shame. Surely they don't eat birds, do they?

Thanks for the tip about acting claustrophobic and weird when on a bus or plane, in order to get a seat that you want. It's not a bad idea, especially if you throw in a few odd gestures or mannerisms to aid your case. Though the bus drivers probably couldn't care less. They'd probably tell you to sit down and shut up!

Yes, the toilet situation is too difficult for me, Nekko. My knees are gummy and I can hardly bend them. So the toilets are a nightmare for me. A continuing one.

I'll be interested to hear your bet when you're ready. And also how things are proceeding with your dear lady.

Cheers Nekko. 8)

#2014-08-17 13:25:36 by Barry1 @Barry1


"When and if I ever get a chance to travel by bus with a lovely Chinese woman by my side, I will indeed take your advice."

I'm sure this'll happen sooner than you think. Meeting a lovely lady and travelling around China. There are so many nice people on this website, after all.

Re the attractive lady on the walkway, she couldn't speak English so I had no real interaction with her unfortunately. Yet four others on the bus spoke English, plus Tina and I - so our little group of six tended to stick together.

Chengdu's pollution varies from time to time. When we were there, it wasn't too bad. Yet I've seen photos of it looking quite bad. I think it depends on which direction the wind is blowing at any given time and if there are any atmospheric inversion layers present.

Tina's home town of Shawan is not good in this area. It's ringed by factories, belching out contaminants. A real shame, as otherwise it'd be a nice place to live.

I've advised Tina to buy an air purifier for her apartment, following on from Nekko's advice some time ago. She said she'll do this. I'll need to keep pushing her here, to do this.

As for Tina saying yes, this is a moot point. I mean, who would want to end up with someone like me, after all? :^)

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