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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.



今天早上,经过一个晚上不踏实的,断断续续的睡眠之后,我们房间外面的喊叫声吵闹声突然把我吵醒了。一只不知从哪里来的猴子跳到一个刚刚踏入寺庙里的倒霉的清晨登山者的身上,并且偷了一袋食物,把和他同行的一小组的朋友们都吓坏了。



猴子们在寺庙周围晃荡,因为他们可以得到旅行者给他们的免费的食物,当然还有他们免费偷来的各种点心。



特别是,那有一个猴王领导着这些猴子们无论什么时候,只要猴王在附近,其他猴子们根本不敢去抓任何食物,就算这些食物是直接丢给他们的。有一阵子我朝寺庙围墙向外观望我四周壮观的植被,当我转回身时,这只猴子王就在我背后漫步,直直的冲我而,就在离我不到2米的地方。它非常的大只,而且脸上有搏斗过的伤疤,它看起来真的很吓人。跟山脚下那些可爱的,毛绒绒的猿一点都不一样



我抓了一竹杆,每个登山都被警告要带这样的一根竹杆。我用力将竹杆击打在石头地板上,发出很大的声音,试图以此来吓走这只离我很近的大猴子。然后,它根本就无视我的行动。于是,我将笔杆敲得更加有攻击力,发出更大的响声来。这只猴子王现在离我只有一米远,并且盯着我,并且不断的咆哮,发出嘶嘶的叫声,让我不禁想起山猫或是美洲狮。我的大脑飞速转动起来,我想起在这些地方看到的好多标识,警告参观者在猴子接近他们时要尽可能的表现自然。于是我停止了敲打竹杆弄出响声,直直纹丝不动的站着,心脏嘣嘣的狂跳。很自然的,那猴子王径直地走过我的身边,差点刮到我的大腿。如果我身上带有食物,事情恐怕就不会这么顺利了。



TINA非常害怕猴子,比我怕多了。当我们在外面吃饭时,无论何时它们靠近我们时,我都会用竹杆敲把它们吓跑。然后,到最后,经过观察,我了解了很多它们恶作剧般的行为后,我非常享受研究它们。我发现最好的策略很简单,就是不要在口袋中或你的背包的顶层放有任何食物和水。所有,如果它们接近你的时候,你只要将你的双手举起来,表示你根本没有带食物。他们就会对你失去兴趣,转向其他的冒险,去袭击其他更有希望的人,或是另一个可怜的受害者。



TINA和我随便吃了一些我们放在背包里各类坚果当早餐,把所有的东西装好,然后开始出发去峨嵋山的另一分支。这里给旅行者一些小贴士,我建议带一大袋的没有咸味的,各类坚果。这些坚果不仅仅有营养,而且它们可以很快让你吃饱。



上一天跟我们在一起的中国同伴们都比我们早出发了。我们觉得没有什么特别理由那么匆忙,因为最高点只在大约7个小时的路程的地方。我今天感觉非常好。感谢上帝,昨天肌肉的痛疼好象已经全部消散,最少在现在这个时刻很好。



我为了确保避免使用我昨晚用的那个厕所,选择在冲凉的时候尿尿了。TINA告诉我,在中国人的传统里,无论去到哪里,进卧室之前一定要脱掉鞋子,穿上总放在卧室门口的那对拖鞋。她还告诉我就算是在冲凉的时候也要穿着那对拖鞋。可是问题是,我的脚要穿12寸的鞋,而中国的拖鞋没有一双是足够大的。



大清早的时候,看了一会猴子们跳到刚踏入寺庙的背包客们身上的闹剧之后,大约10点的时候,我们又快乐的出发了。观看猴子们的恶作剧真的是比看电视有趣多了。



沿路的风光非常的美丽,无论你往哪看,都是大片的树林,苔藓植物。所有这些使得攀登峨嵋山是一件多么值得的事情。好多年之前,一队中国劳工肯定在这条路上工作了很长年月,因为他们为登山者们建好了好几千级向上的石头阶梯,从山脚直到山顶。



这在中国是永远都不会缺的,勤劳的工人们随时都准备着努力的劳苦以便随时完成工作,却不会让人厌烦的提出加工资或是更好的工作环境。对此,我感到非常的抱歉。



爬了大约一个小时左右,让人烦恼的,更加沉重的痛疼在我身体里又卷土而来了。噢,太受不了了。走了大约三个小时之后,我很难过的又回到了跟昨天下午一样缓慢的痛苦的速度。这时TINA却还是沿路非常的轻松快乐,当然比我的情况好多了。我被她的无穷的充沛的活力深深的折服了,而她却对我的酸痛痛苦感到深切的同情



一路上,我俩并不是在互相比赛,我们只是在相互的帮忙对方,不断的以行动或是鼓励的话语帮忙对方。我被她对我的亲切,关心,体贴深深的感动了。



爬到比较高的地方的时候,我开始看到很多没有背背包的行人。很显然,可以做公交车直达山上的某一处,然后下车,在周围四处走走,走上一两个小时,然后再赶着坐公交车下山。



我的第一反应是“太幸福了”。然后,当这个想法一出现,我就马上把它从心里赶走了。我知道,我和TINA在做最辛苦的没有帮忙的爬山,从山脚一直爬上来,就会看到也会摸到和感觉到许许多多的小景观,声音及感受。这些是那些轻松的坐车上来的人根本没有希望能体会得到的。



有时候,只有付出努力才有获得,只有经过艰辛的攀登才能感受得到那销魂的美。



我观察到的一个有趣的现象是,一路上时不时就有一些拿着长长的竹杆的中国农民。这两只竹杆会放在前后两个人的肩膀上。大约付50块钱的费用,登山者就可以选择放下他们的背包,把背包挂在这两条竹杆上,让这些农民帮他们抬。我想你想让他们抬得远一些,他们就会收钱收得多一些。当然,他们不可能一直走到山顶上去,除非得为他们付过夜的住宿费用。因为登山路实在是太长了。



无论从哪个方面来说,这都是双赢的局面。登山者可以歇口气,在两个或三个小时内不用背包,而农民们则可以在们他们的日常生活之外赚一些外快以便支持他们的家庭。一开始的时候,我也排斥让别人来背我的背包的想法,然后我越来越累,这个想法就越来越有吸引力。如果我再次回到峨嵋山来爬山的--很显然我非常可能再来一次的--我会花钱让别人帮我背几个小时的包包的。



在平地上行走的时候,背个背包没什么大不了的,但是当要不断的往上行走的时候,背包简直就是个魔鬼。这一天,经过五个小时的行走之后,TINA和我都感到精疲力竭,或者更准确的说,是我累坏了。我们这位身材苗条却极其强壮的中国女人一直都让我觉得实在是太神奇了。大汗淋漓的她只有54公斤,背包却比我的背包的重多了。今天早上在寺庙中的时候,我们决定把一些东西从我的背包中拿出来放到她的背包里去,因为这场爬山比赛中我显然是弱的那一方。然后,我倔强的认为,我是我所深深喜欢的也是我所希望的。我可不想飞那么老远来中国却只是一个非常轻松的登山过程。我所希望的是一个更有挑战性攀登,我非常开心我找到了。如果说攀登峨嵋山非常容易的话,那么所人的人和他的狗狗都可以来这里溜达。这当然不是我俩所希望的。我俩更喜欢那种相对隔离的,非常自由的感觉。



随着时间的推移,我越来越累也越来越虚脱,我就越来越不断地自己重复美国海军在受到痛苦的考验的时候对他们自己所说的那句话



“查理麦克,查理麦克,查理麦克”



这是”继续任务,继续任务,继续任务”的代码



几个小时之后,我们突然在路上看到一间咖啡厅,看起来很靠近一个公车检查点。有五个外国人正在坐在那里休息。他们并没有背背包,显然是很奢侈的仅仅从山脚坐公车上来山这里来的。当我和TINA,尤其是我,摇摇晃晃的向他们走过去的时候,他们正悠闲地享受着他们的咖啡。我用我的澳大利亚口音说



“朋友们,你们是哪里人啊?”



他们其中一个人就住在当地的某个地方,另外两个是加拿大人,其余两个是美国人。聊了大约几分钟,然后我和TINA继续向前走。我知道在天黑之前我们还有好多路要走,不然的话,我可真是想和他们再多聊一会,我确认这几个奇怪的外国人肯定说些精彩的故事。



接着双是另外两个小时的艰苦跋涉,在这个时候我又退到蛇般挪动的行走速度。我走1015个台阶,然后歇一下,接着,再走1015个台阶,然后再歇一会。就这样走走停停。我双腿越来越酸痛,而更酸痛的是我的背



背包的重量迫使我用我平常不太使用的肩膀周围的肌肉,为此它们在大声的抗议。可恶的难受。我不停的转动背包将它左右甩动,试图找一个十分困难,不可能找得到的“舒适点”



终于,我们摇摇晃晃的走到了峨嵋山山顶的镇区。它其实并不是在最高处,但是它是能提供住宿的最高的地方,是公车所能到达的最高点。著名的峨嵋佛像还有两千多英尺高处,我们明天到将到达那里。



TINA为我们订了一个有双人床的的旅馆房间,每晚200元。我已经“knackered”,对于不熟悉这个俚语人解释一下,它的意思是“非常非常的累”



虽然我全身酸痛,TINA也很累,我们还是设法在我们的有两个单人床的又人房中度过了一个愉快的夜晚。我们开始越来越了解对方,因为困境就有如熊熊燃烧的火炉一样,在那里人所固有的优点和缺点都可以很快的很正确的被辨认出来。



我希望我的表现能达到TINA的期望,而她也一点也没让我失望。我非常感谢她温和的性情,强壮的身体素质。相应的,我想她也会钦佩我面对出乎意料之外的困难挑战者时的勇气和决心。因为每次她看到我在努力的时候都会问我,“BARRY你还好吗?”,我总是会说“是的,所有的事情都很好,我很累,但是我真的很喜欢这次的登山过程。非常谢谢你能带我来这里。”



我非常期待接下来的一天,我们将终于到达最困难的最高峰。TINA和我已经非常接近最后的胜利。



我也发现了在这个高度气温非常的低。然而,这个时刻我对这个迷人的朋友的感觉却在不断的升温,我心里不禁在想她是否对我也有同样的感觉呢?



网上约会中国女人从来就不会是一个简单的过程。我开始觉可能,也许仅仅是可能,TINA和我将会是chinalovematch网站中的其中一对成功的案例。这个想法让我心里暖洋洋的,我慢慢陷入熟睡,而且让人开心的是,今晚的这张床比昨天晚上的那张折磨我的跟石板一样的床舒服多了。


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Comments
(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

@JohnAbbot

"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

@zhangxiujin

"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 posters....do 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

@JohnAbbot

"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

@paulfox1

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

@zhangxiujin

"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.

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