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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 22, Part 4 我的中国之行-第22天,第4部分    

By Barry Pittman
6594 Views | 49 Comments | 1/16/2015 1:10:32 PM

“Come on, Barry – let’s go to the shops and have some lunch!”  Tina suddenly blurted out to me.  “You look so serious.”



It was true.  This day was turning out to be one of reflection and contemplation, more than anything else.  I’d been dreaming about that awful day in Xuzhou, as described in my preceding article. My head hurt a bit. Bad memories often had a tendency to do this to me.



As Tina and I walked along the Shawan River, I couldn’t help but notice photochemical smog in the air, lying low over the water.  What a shame.  This brought up an area of concern if someone was to live in China, that of pollution.  Would one’s health be affected living here, breathing in the monoxides, dioxides and atmospheric particulates that were regrettably so abundant in some sections?  I’d heard recently on the media back home that hundreds of millions of hapless citizens had a sadly decreased life expectancy of up to five years, due to lives spent living in some of the more heavily polluted areas. What a tragedy this was, yet seemingly impossible to quickly turn around.  The Chinese government seemed obsessed with development at all costs.



Tina didn’t know it, but a thousand things were rattling around in my mind concerning this Chinese online dating process I was involved with.  Critical issues that could well have helped determine our future together.  The vague disturbances and doubts that so often had plagued me at night on this trip were beginning to crystallise in my mind.  For this, I felt thankful.  I could clarify what up until now had been a very amorphous set of worries. They’d finally coalesced into concrete and understandable fears, something at least I could get a handle on and hopefully find a solution to.



But would the answers to these questions be to Tina’s liking?  Or my own liking, for that matter?  I knew serious decisions were ahead in this relationship.  I felt a vague unease settle over me, like a fog rolling down from the mountains.



“You have the right to kill me.  But you do not have the right to judge me”.  These were the classic lines as spoken by Marlon Brando in one of the greatest films of all time, “Apocalypse Now” (1979).  I couldn’t help but think about this as Tina and I sauntered around Shawan after finishing our lunch.  All around me were a myriad of sights, merchants spruiking their wares; cab drivers hurtling up the road; shoppers inspecting items on the footpath they were considering buying.



Despite the above words, I found it impossible to stop judging everything around me.  The people; the goods; even the vehicles on the roads.  Everything was being either consciously or subconsciously assessed against my particular upbringing, my background.



Some of my perceptions were extremely positive.  Others were quite the opposite.  I wanted to talk about this to Tina yet I felt she wouldn’t really be interested.



On this note, as I was learning more and more about Tina, I was also learning more and more about myself.  I learnt for example, that as sweet as she was, occasionally she could be a little stern.  For example, I’d taken a photo of her smiling at me, but she didn’t like it.  In fact, she told me quite directly that if ever she saw this picture again, she wouldn’t be happy.  I was surprised.  I later showed the picture to one of my friends asking, “What’s wrong with this?”  The reply was, “Nothing at all, it looks nice.”



Tina in fact didn’t like around ninety-five per cent of the photos I took of her.  Only about one in every twenty did she approve of.  This in turn was proving to be a nightmare for me, as she was continually deleting from the camera, the big majority of photos taken of her, some of which to me were quite endearing.  Yet if I protested at this, she’d respond with something like “You must respect my feelings, Barry.  Sometimes you do not do this.”



This was one argument I couldn’t win.  A zero sum game.  To me, many perfectly lovely photos were being continually deleted by Tina.  Frustrating stuff indeed. 



Every relationship has its crosses to bear.  Its burdens to carry.  In our case, one of these was simply that Tina possessed an overly critical view of herself, as far as images were concerned.  She always that that photos of her made her look too old, too fat or any one of a dozen other things.



To balance things out however, I of course also possessed faults.  Occasionally I became grumpy over something or other.  Never abusive or rude, but no fun to be around.  The last time this had occurred was when I’d been stuck for eight hours alongside an annoying, chattering lady on the bus to Jiuzhaigou, My bad mood had extended until well after I’d left the bus, right up to dinner time.  Tina finally snapped me out of it with some very telling words.



“Barry, we’re here to get to know each other.  But if I see you in a bad mood over small things, I will not like you so much.  We may not have a future together.  But worse than that, you will not have a future with any lady at all, if you act like this.”



 No one had ever been this direct with me before.  Certainly not a Chinese, who often were quite demure and coy in their words, not wanting to seem overly forthright or critical.  But in the space of about sixty seconds, Tina had cut me to the quick.  Put me in my place. I realized that absolutely, she was dead set correct.  I felt like an idiot, for the churlish behavior I’d occasionally displayed one or two times already on this trip.



Look at that, Barry!”  Tina had interrupted my introspective reverie as we walked around the markets.  A lady had come out of her shop with a big fish in her hand and grabbing it by its tail, began violently whacking its head on the footpath, right in front of us.



Oh my God,” I thought to myself, “I’ll never get used to this!”



This seemed to be the de rigueur method in China for restaurants and other eateries to kill their fish immediately before being cooked.  I guess it was not so different really to the practice in the West, where fish were killed either by freezing them or maybe chopping off their heads.  But where I’d travelled, the fish slaughter was done very publicly and to me, rather brutally because sometimes it took multiple whacks before the poor fish stopped wriggling.



How do they kill dogs and cats?” I wondered wryly, as I knew that these also were on the menu unfortunately in some areas.  This was something that didn’t bear thinking about.  I loved China, but some of its practices most certainly I didn’t love.



To be continued - Day 22, Part 5



“来吧,巴里 ,我们去商店然后吃午餐!”蒂娜突然脱口而出。 “你看起来那么严肃。”



这是真的。这一天都花在沉思冥想上了,比别的都重要。正如前面文章中讲述的有关徐州的旅行,我一直梦到那可怕的一天。我的头有点儿疼,不好的回忆往往对我有这种倾向。

蒂娜和我沿着沙湾河走着,我不禁注意到空气中的光化学烟雾,低伏于水上。真遗憾。如果在中国居住,这就涉及到值得关切的领域 - 即污染。令人遗憾的,空气中大量存在一氧化物,二氧化物和大气颗粒物,生活在这些区域一个人的健康会受到影响吗?我最近在家里的媒体上听到,由于之前生活在一些污染更严重的地区,亿万不幸的公民大约会减少五年的寿命。真是个悲剧,但看似不可能迅速转变。中国政府貌似执迷于发展经济不惜一切代价。

有关自己身处其中的网上在线约会,蒂娜不知道此时的我千头万绪涌上心头。很可能帮助确定我们共同未来的重大问题。终于,此行中经常在晚上折磨着我的模糊困扰和疑虑,已开始在我脑海中结晶。对于这一点,我很感激。到现在为止我终于可以理清这一堆烦扰,它们终于结成具体的可以理解的担忧,至少可以触摸并有望找到一个解决方案。



但就这个事情上,对这些令人不安的难题的解答是否能让蒂娜喜欢?或者我自己喜欢?我知道我们的关系面临重大决定,我感觉到模糊的不安笼罩着我,如同山上滚滚而下的雾一般。



 “你有权杀了我,但你无权评判我”。吃完午饭后蒂娜和我在沙湾周围闲逛时,我不禁想起史上最伟大的电影之一,由马龙•白兰度主演的“现代启示录”(1979年)的经典台词。我周围一片繁忙景象,商家在滔滔不绝的介绍产品;出租车飞驰而过;购物者在人行道上查看正在考虑购买的物件。



尽管前文中我有说过,但我还是不能停止评判我周围的一切,人,货物,哪怕道路上的车辆。有意或下意识地,一切都被我拿自己的背景,特殊的成长经历来比较评定



我的一些看法是非常积极的。其它则完全相反。我想和蒂娜谈谈,但我觉得她不会真的有兴趣。

在这点上,随着我越来越了解蒂娜,我也越来越了解自己。例如,有时她很亲切,偶尔她会有点严厉。举例来说,我给她拍向我微笑的照片,但她不喜欢。事实上,她很直接地告诉我说如果她再次看到这张照片,她会不高兴。我很惊讶。我后来把相片给我的一个朋友看,问“这相片有什么问题吗?”得到的答复是,“没问题,看起来不错。”

我给蒂娜拍的相片实际上她95%左右不喜欢。每20张,她大约只认可一张。反过来,这对我正是一场噩梦,因为她不断地从相机删除相片,而大部份照片是拍她的,其中一些我觉得相当惹人喜爱。然而,如果我对此抗议,她会这样答复:“你必须尊重我的感受,巴里。有时候,你没有。”

这是一个我不会赢的争执。一个零分的比赛。在我看来,很多可爱的完美照片不断被蒂娜删除,着实令人沮丧。

每一种关系都有麻烦要处理有压力要承担。我们关系的其中一个问题是,只要涉及她的形象,蒂娜会显得对自己过于挑剔。她总说她的照片让她看起来太老,太胖或任何别的十几个问题之一。



然而与此权衡,我当然也有缺点。偶尔我会为些事或其它事变得脾气暴躁。尽管从未辱骂或粗鲁,但对身边的人来说也没有乐趣可言。最近一次是上次前往九寨沟的大巴旅途上,我被困在一个恼人的喋喋不休的女士旁边长达八个小时,我糟糕的情绪蔓延直到下车吃晚饭的时间。蒂娜最后用很能说明问题的话把我从中解脱出来。

“巴里,我们是来这里了解对方的。但是如果我看到你为鸡毛蒜皮的事闹心,我不会那么喜欢你。我们可能没有未来。但更糟糕的是,如果你这么行事的话,你和任何女士都不会有未来。”

以前从来没有人对我这么直截了当。当然不是中国人,他们的措词往往相当隐讳含蓄,不想显得过于直率或挑剔。但就在大约六十秒的时空里,蒂娜把我点醒了,让我恢复原样。我意识到她百分比绝对正确。我觉得自己像个白痴,为此行中偶尔一两次的无礼行为。



“你看那个,巴里!”我们沿着市场走着,蒂娜打断了我的内省遐想。一位女士手上拿着一条大鱼从店里出来,双手抓住尾巴,就当着我们的面,开始猛烈地将它的头部往人行道上砸。

“噢,我的上帝,”我心想,“我永远不会习惯这个!”

这现杀现煮的方法在中国的餐馆和其他饭店似乎很平常。我想这和西方鱼被冻结或被砍掉头的做法没有太大区别。但是在我所到之处看到这样当众宰杀鱼,在我看来是相当残忍的,因为有时要多砸几次可怜的鱼才停止扭动。

“他们是怎么宰杀狗和猫呢?”我苦笑着想,因为我知道在某些区域它们也是桌上的菜肴。想着这个我就觉得受不了。我很喜欢中国,但它的一些做法,我肯定不爱。



未完待续,第22天,第5部分


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Comments
(Showing 1 to 10 of 49) 1 2 3 4 5 More...
#2015-04-24 20:05:53 by Christopher53 @Christopher53

First of all, I'm very thankful that this blog wasn't as 'moving' as the last one.

Secondly, you are correct, of course, to wonder about the long term effects of the pollution in China on your health. Although I try not to look at it too often, here is a link to a site which provides the real time air quality index. Huanggang, where I live, can be particularly bad due to the local steel plants and the coal fired generating stations. I have seen the index rise to over 500. Anything under 200 I consider a good day. If breathing the air will take five years off my life, I console myself with the fact that it will be the last five.

http://aqicn.org/city/all/

Thirdly, if you are the kind of person who finds fault in everything and has trouble shaking off a bad experience, life in China will be very difficult. There are minor things that occur frequently which could ruin a person's day.
Life as a foreigner is particularly challenging. We are not allowed to do online banking, for example, or to book our own train tickets online. We are required to report to the police when we visit other cities. And the standards we are used too at home regarding spitting and other bodily functions do not apply.
Since we are always outsiders to the language and culture, we have to get used to the idea that we are continually outside the loop. We are usually the last to find out anything.
On top of this, and I have discussed this with Panda recently, about 15% of the Chinese men I encounter publicly are either passive-aggressive to me or simply hostile. I'm talking about things like intentionally bumping elbows in public places, blocking my exit from the subway, making vaguely threatening gestures, steering their scooters towards me on the sidewalk, making a point of crossing my path, kicking my chair in the movie theater or on the train, or cutting ahead of me in whichever line I happen to be in. You will have to get used to continually being tested, and standing your ground in one situation will not change anything about the next encounter.
Panda tells me I am overly sensitive, and I am sure everyone's experience is different, and that life in coastal cities where there are many more foreigners, is different still. I can only compare to my life in Canada, the land of the continual apology.

Finally, you are right to point out that Chinese women has a very gentle but decisive way of correcting our many faults.

#2015-04-25 04:20:27 by anonymous13285 @anonymous13285

Barry, once again a very enlightening recounting of your inner findings re: Chinese/western relationship. I have to totally agree with Tina on the bad moods as I am the same as you, always doubting myself, my feelings for my Chinese gf and doubting her intentions/honesty. I find myself in bad moods more than I would ever choose to be and it affects me negatively and her even more so. Tina wrote “Barry, we’re here to get to know each other. But if I see you in a bad mood over small things, I will not like you so much. We may not have a future together. But worse than that, you will not have a future with any lady at all, if you act like this.”

I agree for you and myself. Wise words from a wise person. We as western men have little or no ability to be so direct and to the point and most often we find ourselves with no defense against this type of directness. We can perceive it as a subtle threat but to Chinese women it is just what they think and express it a way we cant. If they say it in their minds it is fact with no room for discussion.

"Unbreakable will" "steel rods encased in beautiful flower appearances"

I have also found that most Chinese women that I have met over the last 4-5 years have all been masters at deception and manipulation. I personally cannot stand the "little white lies" they will tell you about almost anything and they feel they are not doing anything wrong. When told it is still being dishonest they don't agree.

"don't worry" I think most western men have heard this from their Chinese gf's many times.

Is it our Chinese gf's we should question or should we question ourselves?

I do not know the outcome in your relationship with Tina and I also fear for my own relationship not surviving. Of course if it ends it will be all my fault as she would never think any other way.

In reference to your last point I can only say my gf's loves dogs and cats for pets not for food...thank goodness.

I too love China I but fear for the people as their government goes full speed with no environmental concern or for it's people.

Looking forward to your next episode

#2015-04-25 18:09:32 by Barry1 @Barry1

@Christopher53

http://aqicn.org/city/all/

Thanks for the link to the air pollution information and monitoring site, Chris. Whilst it didn't list Shawan, I did find out the nearest small town to there (Leshan) was listed at 122, "unhealthy for sensitive groups".

Huanggang where you live was 154 at the time of viewing, described as "unhealthy". If you've seen it rise to over 500, this would be worrying.

Brisbane CBD where I currently am was listed at a level of 16, described as being "good". Wooloongabba in Brisbane which is a little closer to me was given an extraordinarily low pollution count of 1 at the time of writing. It's hard to get below a level of one!

Apart from the shortened life expectancy, what chronic pollution also does is to aggravate illnesses. Put simply, once you're sick, it keeps you feeling less well, for longer. The thought of what long term exposure to unhealthy levels of pollution does to babies and infants is worrying.

Your observations of life as a foreigner in China were interesting. Although I must say that as far as reporting to the local police station goes, on my past three trips there wondering all over the place, I never bothered to do this. Although the hotels sometimes were difficult to check into, refusing to admit a "foreigner". This was particularly aggravating one time in Xuzhou, where at the end of a long day of travel, I had to catch taxis from one side of the city to the other in the darkness, searching for a hotel that would finally admit me.

It's a challenge being out of the loop whilst visiting there for much of the time, I agree. With people nattering and gesticulating around you whilst you have no clue as to what they're saying. This gives impetus to the idea that maybe simple Mandarin should be learnt?

I was intrigued by your observation that about 15 per cent of Chinese men acted a little passive-aggressively toward you. I must say that I've never personally struck this. Sure, I've had whole groups of men suddenly stop talking and silently stare at me whilst I walked past them on the street, but nothing more than this. I simply smile politely and keep moving.

I'll be in China again later this year. I'll certainly keep an eye out for this behaviour, if it occurs.

As for spitting on the sidewalks, I find this rather amusing. I described in one of my earlier blogs being on a bus around Chengdu one time, when the driver suddenly ejected out of his driver's window in the loudest and most offensive way, a huge blob of spit. This made me burst out laughing so loudly that the driver then turned around in his seat to see who was making all the noise!

China is indeed a fascinating and in many ways, a very challenging place. I hope through my articles that some people can see this and may in fact be encouraged to visit there.

Best wishes to you, Chris. (y)

#2015-04-25 18:57:25 by olayoil @olayoil

澳大利亚靠资源出口中国例如贴矿石之类,受中国经济影响比较大,中国
经济在触底, 澳跟着一蹶不振。说来也就是占了地大物博的好处。。。
因为媒体的歪曲,他们总是认为我们生活在水深火热之中, 做任何事情都是受政府控制,没有任何自由,没有人权,没有尊严.
  
包括污染呀, 我就不相信这么个山村还有如何如何严重的雾霾,工业都为零,

哪个国家工业发展没有过污染?欧洲几条河在60年代都还是被污染的。

#2015-04-26 07:59:32 by yuan2599 @yuan2599

西方人不明白东方人的含蓄和圆滑,更不懂什么时候该含蓄和什么时候该圆滑,这就是东方文化高明之处,西方人很难学会。比如:撒谎 和诚实。西方人不懂什么是善意的撒谎,比如:一位母亲去医院,检查出患癌症,不知道医生和家属是直接告诉她的病情,还是暂时隐藏。在中国,首先只告诉家属真实情况,在西方人是否撒谎?如何做人诚实?更是一门高深的哲学课,例如:一个女孩喜欢一位男士,那位男士结过一次婚,大多数女孩对父母会隐瞒男士的已婚史,但不是欺骗父母,只是为了父母不担心和同意他们的婚姻,西方人会认为是不诚实的??

#2015-04-26 13:00:15 by Barry1 @Barry1

@olayoil

"哪个国家工业发展没有过污染?欧洲几条河在60年代都还是被污染的。"

谢谢你的评论。
我认为我们这里所有人都知道中国是个伟大的国家。

我们也知道,其他许多国家在其发展期间同时造成了很多污染。但是为什么中国需要追随这些污染的途径?为什么不能更专注于可再生资源,比如太阳能,水力发电或者风力发电?为什么他们必须象其他国家一样犯同样的错误:可怕的污染问题?

中国人是聪明的,他们应该是做得更好。他们不想缩短其公民的生命以及通过污染带来的各种相关疾病。如果有人不同意,中国有严重的污染问题,他们忽略了明显的事实。醒醒吧,中国!

#2015-04-26 14:05:51 by Barry1 @Barry1

@anonymous13285

" I find myself in bad moods more than I would ever choose to be and it affects me negatively and her even more so"

Thanks for your comments, Anon13285.

Ninety-eight per cent of the bad moods that I find myself in, I later regret. The reason for this is that I realise what a complete waste of time it was. Not only did I feel poorly during the bad mood period, but those around me were negatively affected as well.

So these days, I am at pains to think a little more before I act recklessly or impulsively. This means I'm happier more of the time and so are my friends and family.

This was particularly highlighted to me when I became aware of Yan Zi's plight. She was a young Chinese girl who died prematurely, fighting to the very end against the ravages of leukemia. Seeing her battle so courageously against this disease made me realise how lucky I was to be healthy and alive. It caused me to wonder why waste so much time feeling negatively, when other good people are battling desperately just to stay alive. I sensed how utterly futile and stupid this was.

Details of the story can be seen here:

http://blog.chinalovematch.net/blog/article/Sad-Story-of-Yan-Zi

Once again, thanks for your interesting and intelligent comments, Anon13285. (y)

#2015-04-26 14:07:58 by Barry1 @Barry1

@yuan2599

"西方人不明白东方人的含蓄和圆滑,更不懂什么时候该含蓄和什么时候该圆滑"


我可以看出,在对待跟西方人的关系上,你没有一个非常坦率和诚实的态度。
但请让我如此说,每个国家都有不诚实的人,每个群体或种族。
我认为你说的是不正确的:中国人比西方人更诚实或更少说谎话。西方国家有很多骗子以及罪犯,这是事实。但是话说回来,中国也如此!

我认为你不应该只用你固有的思想、文化去混淆去评判另外一种文化,比较哪个更胜出。他们是各不相同的,就这么简单,每个社会和文化都有各自的优缺点。

请你用宽容和大度的思维去看待西方人。由此反馈,我思想里会得到关于中国人日益增多的信息:一个非常聪明和有礼貌的群体。

#2015-04-26 14:20:41 by belle777 @belle777

@yuan2599
网络上认识的西方人,很多也会撒谎的,大家要擦亮眼睛甄别。
其实很多时候就是人和人的性格不同,含蓄圆滑与否,是人的性格,西方人也有含蓄和圆滑的。
网上交友,保持平常心,我们是要找好男人,大家不要因为是西方男人,就觉得神秘,你用什么标准对待中国男人,就怎么对待西方男人。

中国现在污染严重,不过正常的西方男人,是要来网络交友,不会拿这个来大谈特谈,他们一般就说,欧洲美国以前也经历过污染。
我跟很多外国人在网上交流过,条件好些的西方人都不会拿这个来说事,人家是来找老婆的,不是来考察中国的。

#2015-04-26 16:37:39 by yuan2599 @yuan2599

Brry ,你好!
谢谢你的点评
“我可以看出,在对待跟西方人的关系上,你没有一个非常坦率和诚实的态度”
事实上,我在对待跟西方人的关系上,我有很好态度,我是坦率和诚实的。也许是东方人与西方人,在表达事物的方式方法上,角度不同。

Belle,你好!
谢谢你的提醒!!你说的对,一个人是否诚实或者圆滑,是性格决定的。你使我醒悟,网上骗子,我好象遇到过,某人只是为了一个女人陪同聊天,消磨时间和寂寞。所以,我们在没有确定一个男人的目的之前,要多认识一些人,最终确定一个人。我之前与一西男聊天一年多时间,几乎每天2小时以上。我隐藏了资料,只与他一个个聊天,浪费我的宝贵时间,长达一年2个月。现在反观过去,我真是天下第一傻。请妹妹们引以为介。

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