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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 4 我的中国之行—第四天    

By Barry Pittman
5805 Views | 26 Comments | 5/29/2014 9:54:04 PM

Shouts and cries from people outside our room awoke me suddenly this morning, after a restless and fitful night's sleep. A monkey had from out of nowhere jumped on a hapless early morning hiker entering the temple area and had stolen a bag of food, frightening the small group of friends he'd been walking with.

The monkeys hung around the monastery because of the free food that visitors gave them. Plus of course, the munchies that they’d pilfer for free!

In particular, there was a boss monkey who ruled the roost - none of the other monkeys dared grab any food whenever he was around, even if it was thrown directly at them. At one stage as I was gazing out over the temple wall onto the glorious vegetation surrounding me, I turned around and this top of the pecking order boss monkey was sauntering behind my back directly toward me, less than two metres away. Due to his larger size plus obvious battle scarred appearance, he looked somewhat intimidating. Not like the cute, little hairy apes at the bottom of the mountain.

I grabbed the bamboo pole that all travelers were warned to carry and thumped it loudly onto the stone floor, attempting to scare the large ape away from me. He ignored me completely, so I thumped the pole more aggressively onto the floor, creating a loud noise. The boss at this stage was about a metre away from me and at this, growled a hissing sound, reminiscent of a large bobcat or cougar. Thinking quickly, I remembered signs in the area warned visitors to act as naturally as possible if approached by monkeys, so I then stopped the noise and stood completely still, with heart thumping. Sure enough, the monkey walked straight past me, almost brushing my leg. If I’d been carrying food, things wouldn’t have been so tranquil.

Tina was quite afraid of the monkeys, much more so than me. But whenever they approached us as we were eating outside, I'd rap my bamboo pole on the ground, frightening most of them away. In the end though, after observing them and learning more about their mischievous behaviour, I quite enjoyed studying them. I learnt the best strategy was simply to carry no food or water bottles in your pockets or in the top layers of your backpack. So if they approached, hold up the palms of both your hands to indicate to them that you were carrying no food. They’d then lose interest in you and venture away to harass someone else more promising, another poor victim.

Tina and I desultorily ate an assortment of mixed nuts we had in our backpacks for breakfast, loaded everything up and then we set off on the next leg of the Mt Emei trek. As a tip to travelers, I recommend carrying a big packet of unsalted, mixed nuts with you.  Not only are they highly nutritious, but they fill you up pretty quickly.

Our Chinese companions from the day before had all left earlier than us.  We'd figured there was no particular need to hurry, as the summit was only about seven hours walk away. I was feeling better today.  Thank God the aching muscles from the day before seemed to have dissipated, at least for the moment.

I made sure to avoid the putrid toilet I’d visited the evening before, opting to pee in the shower. In Chinese tradition, Tina told me to always remove my shoes when entering the bedoom of any place we were in and slip on a pair of sandals that always lay at the entry of the room. She also told me to wear these even when having a shower. The trouble being that with my size 12 feet, none of the Chinese sandals were ever big enough for me!

About 10.00am we happily set off again, after watching the monkeys jump on a few backpackers entering the monastery during the early morning. This entertainment was way better than TV!

The scenery along the trail was lovely, with huge vistas of trees and mossy foliage wherever you looked. This was what made the Mt Emei trek so gloriously worthwhile.  A team of Chinese labourers years ago in the past must've spent many months working on the trail, as they'd constructed thousands of stone steps for hikers to walk upon, from the base of the mountain right to the top.

This is what China has no shortage of, industrious workers who are prepared to work hard and get the job done. No annoying trade union demands for more pay or better conditions are allowed, sorry about that.

After about an hour or so of trekking, worryingly the aggravating aches in my body began to unwelcomely reappear. Oh no! After about three hours of walking, I was sadly back to the slow, painful pace of the afternoon before. Tina in the meantime was bopping along quite happily, certainly making a better fist of the conditions than me. I was mighty impressed by her enormous stamina and she in turn felt sympathy for my aches and pains.

We weren’t in competition with each other during the walk, we were more intent on simply helping each other, through both deeds and spoken words of encouragement.  I was moved by her displays of kindness, care and consideration toward me.

Higher up the mountain, I began to see a lot of walkers without backpacks. Apparently one can catch a bus up to certain points up the mountain, get off and have a walk around for an hour or two, before catching the bus back down.

"Lucky sods!", I silently reflected. As soon as this thought appeared however, I banished it from my mind. I knew that Tina and I were doing the hard yakka of hiking unaided from the bottom to the top and would be seeing, touching and feeling a myriad of small sights, sounds and sensations that the casual day walkers wouldn't have a hope of seeing.

Sometimes one must endure the agony in order to experience the ecstasy.

One interesting observation I made was that from time to time along the trail there were Chinese farmers with long bamboo poles. The two poles would go from the front person's shoulders to the shoulders of the rear person. For a fee of around 50 yuan per person, hikers had the option of offloading their backpacks, allowing the farmers to carry them, with the packs being hung from the two bamboo poles. I assume that the longer you wanted them to carry your backpack, the more they'd charge. They couldn't go all the way to the top oc course, unless you provided overnight accommodation for them, as the trek was too long.

In any case, this was a win/win situation. Hikers could have a break for a two or three hours without a pack - and the farmers were able to supplement their normal day to day income to help feed their families. At first I scoffed at the idea of allowing someone else to carry my pack, but the more exhausted I felt - the more appealing the idea became. If ever I return to Mt Emei again to repeat this walk - and I most certainly will - I'll spend the money and get the carriers to take my load for a few hours.

Carrying a backpack is fine on flat ground, but they're a curse when constantly striding uphill literally all day. On this day, Tina and I were both worn out after about five hours of walking, or to be quite truthful - it was me that was worn out. I was continually amazed how physically strong my slender Chinese lady friend was. Weighing only 54 kgs dripping wet, she now was carrying a heavier load in her pack than I was. We'd agreed to transfer some of the goods from my pack into hers earlier in the morning back at the temple, given that I was the weak link in this grueling uphill battle. But then again, perversely this was how I liked it  - deep down, this is how I wanted it to be. I didn’t fly all the way to China to go on a cakewalk. I wanted something more challenging than this and I was glad I’d found it.  If the Mt Emei trek was an easy one, then every man and his dog would be here, that's certainly not what either of us wanted.   We far preferred the relative isolation and feelings of freedom that we felt.

As the day continued and the more physically drained that I became, the more that I kept repeating to myself the words that the US Navy Seals say to themselves when being sorely tested:

"Charlie Mike, Charley Mike, Charley Mike".

This was code for

"Continue Mission, Continue Mission, Continue Mission”

After several hours, we suddenly came across a cafe on the trail that appeared to be near a bus check point. A group of five foreigners were sitting there relaxing. They appeared to be carrying no packs and had luxuriated in simply catching the bus up to this point on the mountain. They were enjoying a leisurely cup of tea as Tina and more particularly me, staggered up to them. In my broadest Australian accent, I said,

"Gidday guys - where are you all from?"

One lived locally somewhere; two were from Canada; and two from the USA. We chatted for a few minutes before heading ever upwards. I knew we had a lot more distance to travel before the day was out, otherwise I’d have loved to have spent time getting to know the fascinating stories these strange foreigners no doubt had to tell.

Another two hours of hard slog ensued, with my walking by this time deteriorating down again to a snail's pace. I’d walk up ten or fifteen steps, then have a rest. Then walk up another ten or fifteen steps and have another rest. So on and so forth. My legs were aching but even worse than this was my back.

The weight of the backpack was forcing me to use muscles around my shoulders that I'd never used much before and they were protesting loudly. Damned uncomfortable. I was continually turning and twisting the backpack around, trying to find an elusive “sweet spot” that was impossible to locate.

Finally we staggered into the Mt Emei township at the top of the mountain. It wasn't exactly the top, but it was the highest point where accommodation was available. It was the highest point also where the buses traveled to. The famous Mt Emei Buddha temples were another one thousand feet higher that were to be tackled tomorrow.

Tina checked us in to a hotel room (200 yuan per night) with twin beds. I was knackered. For anyone unfamiliar with this slang, it means "extremely tired".

Despite my aches and Tina’s tiredness, we managed to spend a comfortable night together in our twin share room with two single beds. We were starting to know each other more and more, as adversity is akin to a fiery crucible where inherent character flaws and weaknesses in people would unerringly soon be found out.

I hoped I’d performed up to Tina’s expectations and that she wasn’t disappointed in me. I very much appreciated her sweet disposition and strong physical prowess. In return, I think she admired my grit and determination to keep pressing on with this unexpectedly difficult challenge. For every time she'd seen me struggling and had asked, "Are you okay, Barry?", I'd invariably answer with words to the effect of "Yes, everthing's fine. I'm tired but I'm really enjoying this walk. Thank you for bringing me here.”

I was really looking forward to the day ahead, when the elusive top peak would finally be broached. Tina and I were close to ultimate triumph.

I noted also that the temperature at this altitude was decidedly cool. Though the feelings I held for my charming friend were beginning to heat up. I wondered if she felt the same way about me?

Online Chinese dating is never an easy process. I was beginning to feel though that maybe, just maybe, Tina and I might become one of ChinaLoveMatch’s success stories. I really hoped so. With that warm thought in mind, I drifted off to a deep sleep, ever so grateful that the bed I was in this night was far more comfortable than the slate billiard table bed I'd been tortured by the previous night.



































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(Showing 1 to 10 of 26) 1 2 3 More...
#2014-06-05 14:22:30 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Hey, nice work sissy-boy, letting the little lady carry most of your stuff up an entire mountain. Next you'll have her carrying both backpacks. Time to man up, Bro!

Just kidding Barry, I am feeling winded and exhausted just reading about your trek, nevermind trying to actually complete such a journey. Hell, I went out and climbed a ladder to trim a couple of trees today, and I needed a nap to recover from that.

I admire what you're doing and I'm betting Tina does too, in a big way.

#2014-06-05 17:41:26 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

Well Done Barry - we are all proud of ya mate!

#2014-06-06 01:42:11 by zhangxiujin @zhangxiujin


"Hell, I went out and climbed a ladder to trim a couple of trees today, and I needed a nap to recover from that. " -- (rofl)(rofl)(rofl) Can you be more humorous, John?

#2014-06-06 01:55:53 by zhangxiujin @zhangxiujin

Barry, silly you, listen to John and Aussieghump, take a bus and get off the mountain, before "George" arrives, take your lady somewhere romantic,
do you think you will impress her by your sore legs and ache back?

#2014-06-06 03:26:24 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot


"take a bus and get off the mountain, before "George" arrives" - (rofl)(rofl)(clap)

You're pretty darned funny yourself, girl.

#2014-06-06 04:08:36 by anonymous10228 @anonymous10228

Barry, great story so far. Tina seems like a wonderful person, and obviously in hiking shape. Don't fret that you are struggling, she does this type of hiking much more than you, you are also twice her size! I think also the 15 year age gap plays a big part in your stamina versus hers.

You make no mention as to whether you think she is attracted to you. She very obviously knows how you feel about her in person and by her reading these blog entries. I have noticed in this latest entry she is sharing room with you? If so she is feeling she can trust you now and I think is showing sign she is interested in you romantically.

I agree with above not wait any longer...step up to the plate and take a swing before George shows up and takes your place in the batting order!

Good luck mate!!!

#2014-06-06 04:19:19 by johnb888 @johnb888

Barry, in the next set of pictures I want you to sport a different shirt. OK?
Don't get me wrong: I like your navy Gingham shirt but you can't wear it 4 days in a row.

(If you packed several identical shirts then you mystified me and please ignore my comment ;) )

#2014-06-06 11:05:14 by Barry1 @Barry1


"nice work sissy-boy, letting the little lady carry most of your stuff up an entire mountain."

Thanks for your humerous comments, John.

In day 5 of this series, I've included a photo of the big pack that Tina was carrying. Its length is about half of her entire body. Yet she carried this without complaint, a sterling effort that most big men couldn't do.

I'll never forget the true grit that she so amply demonstrated on this journey.

#2014-06-06 11:11:38 by Barry1 @Barry1


Thanks for this, Paul.

My previous two China trips had always been in the metropolitan areas around Shanghai, Suzhou, Nanjing, Xuzhou and Hangzhou.

I'm now in a world apart from the above. Rubbing shoulders with everything from Buddhist monks through to mischievous chimps and chumps. Surrounded on all sides by so many things impossible to experience in the Big City.

There's nowhere else on Earth I'd rather be at the moment.

#2014-06-06 11:15:48 by Barry1 @Barry1


"Barry, silly you, listen to John and Aussieghump, take a bus and get off the mountain, before "George" arrives"

Thanks for your thoughts, Zhangxiujin.

I know your heart's in the right place.

But right now, this mountain is where I want to be. In fact, it's where I NEED to be. Hard to explain, but it's how I feel.

Best wishes to you.

(Showing 1 to 10 of 26) 1 2 3 More...
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