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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 8 我的中国之行— 第8天    

By Barry Pittman
3474 Views | 8 Comments | 6/3/2014 2:57:40 PM

Today we were to leave the Qingyin Pavilion area to return to Tina's home town of Shawan, a smallish town of a few thousand people.  It was located forty minutes bus trip from the larger town of Leshan, that in turn was located an hour's drive down the highway from Chengdu.  I noticed that the speed limit on the highway often was 120 km/hr, faster than most equivalent highways in Australia, where 100 km/hr was the norm,maybe 110 km/hour if you were lucky.



Before returning home however, we had to return to the very first hotel we'd stayed in on night one.  This place is where Tina and I had rummaged through our backpacks, offloading anything that wasn't critical to the ascent up the mountain.  The management there had kindly stored goods for us, awaiting our return.



This first hotel wasn't in a town of any sort, but more so in a village, without any particular name, given its small size. Its position was in the lower foothills of Mt Emei, near the Fuhu Temple. 



In order to reach this first hotel, Tina and I needed to catch a bus from our current location, in the upper Emei foothills.  As we were approaching the bus terminal however, a Chinese man ran up to us and started talking rapidly to Tina.  As it turned out, he was a taxi driver who offered to take us directly to the hotel, bypassing the bus.  He said that it'd be a half price journey, as a young Chinese couple would be in the taxi with us and thus share the fare.



If anyone hasn't ridden in a Chinese taxi before, be prepared from time to time to put your life into their hands. Some of them are safe drivers - but some are maniacs!  If you strike a cowboy like this, half the time you'll be on the wrong side of the road overtaking everything possible when even the slightest of opportunities arises, with the car horn constantly blaring. If it wasn't so downright dangerous, it'd be hilarious, like something out of a Charlie Chaplin movie.



On this particular journey, we struck one of these manic types.  Overtaking on a blind corner?  No problem to him, as long as he kept his horn blasting all the way around.  Overtaking over double lines?  Same thing. Trying to intimidate and harass pedestrians or wobbly pushbike riders -  simply part of the fun!  I reckoned that on our twenty minute journey, the car horn seemed to be on more than it was off.  Fun times in suburban China!



Finally we were forced to stop by some heavy traffic, thank heaven for that!  But as we momentarily waited, something caught our eye.  The driver pointed to the other side of the road.  We gazed across and saw a Chinese man repeatedly punching a Chinese woman, who soon fell to the ground.  As we were watching, a Chinese lady from our side of the road ran across to offer assistance but almost immediately, our taxi was off again.  I have no idea what the fight was about but it was an ugly spectacle to witness.



It reminded me of an incident I saw on my last trip to Shanghai.  I was in an underground foyer leading to various underground subways.  Ahead of me, suddenly a woman started shouting at a man wearing rather tatty clothes, who started yelling back at her.  Suddenly the man began belting the lady, until a bystander quickly stepped in, stopping the fight.  



"My Godfather!", I thought, "What's happening here?"



But the nervous lady I was with wanted nothing to do with this, so I was ushered quickly by.  Thinking about it afterwards, I believe the man probably was a pick pocket who’d been caught in the act.  It bears remembering that everyone involved in online Chinese dating needs to be careful when they travel in China.  I'm sure that John from ChinaLoveMatch.net in fact has written some articles about this in the past, warning of some of the scams and "tricks of the trade" that may be foisted upon naive foreigners when in China.



It’s a fascinating place indeed yet unfortunately has a seedy underworld of thieves, cheats and tricksters.  Inexperienced Westerners need to be aware of what lies beneath the towering glass skyscrapers, the new glossy shopping malls and the well dressed fashionista wearing their dark sunglasses and high heeled shoes.  There’s a seething underbelly of sad and no doubt sometimes desperate poverty coexisting with this all.  Just because it’s not always immediately seen doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. 



After finishing our business at the hotel, collecting the gear we’d left there earlier in the week, we caught another cab to Shawan, Tina’s home town.  As the taxi dropped us a block or so from her home, one sight that struck me was an old man rummaging through a series of rubbish bins.  On the footpath he had a series of bags, one containing plastic bottles, another containing paper and another containing cans. He was earning a living by recycling rubbish.  Then as I glanced up, a well to do Chinese man drove past sitting in a gleaming, new looking Porsche Carrera.  From the sublime to the ridiculous.  The haves and the have nots.  An unsettling tragi-comedy occurring in real time, right in front of me.



Finally we arrived at Tina’s place.  It was a two bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a four story building.  She’d lived there for twenty-two years.  It had initially been supplied by the company she worked for and then was able to be purchased cheaply over the next few years. 



The longest I’ve ever lived in one place was nine years  -  living in one place for over twenty seemed amazing to me.  I tend to get bored after a while, wanting to move house to somewhere new and different. The "itchy feet" syndrome.  Not so simple to do in China however.



I walked into her bathroom and aaahhhh!   There was another one of those infernal squat toilets, sitting right next to the shower with no partition separating them. So one can basically clean the toilet whilst having a shower by simply redirecting the shower head spray.  I glanced around the small bathroom but couldn’t see any toilet paper.  I need to ask her about this – surely one doesn’t simply use shower water?



We had dinner and I asked what time her daughter Wendy would return.  Tina said 9.20pm.  She’s 16 years old and has to stay at school until 9.00pm.  She then catches a pedicab home, that's simply a three wheeled, pedal powered taxi.  Some look like they've never been washed.  Others are a bit more modern, with new canvas coverings.  The seats are hard and uncomfortable.  No suspension exists, so every crack or crevice on the road is felt.  For just a few yuan, these wobbling, often dirty looking trikes will take you all around this small town.  They appear to have no gears, drivers simply use the one gear all around town.  In 2014, surely at least three or four gears would've been a reasonable expectation, but no such luxury here.



Wendy catches the same pedicab ridden by the same nice old man every school night, week in and week out, month after month.  Just part of life’s routine.  The problem being that the pedicabs have nil lights or reflectors on them.  I rode in one with Tina earlier tonight and I felt nervous about it, as cars were whizzing by in the dark and the cab itself was almost invisible to see from behind.



“Why don’t these cabs have any lights, Tina?  I reckon they’d be a lot safer at night?”, I asked.



“I don’t know, Barry… maybe because it would cost money to buy batteries for them?”



I then noticed that half the motorbikes whizzing by us had no lights on either!  Has no one here heard about road safety?



So the price of perhaps being run into by an inattentive car driver at night comes down to a few yuan saved on not buying a few sets of torch batteries.  But surely with very low voltage LED lights, they'd run for many weeks on just one set of batteries?  But what about reflectors - why didn't any of the pedicabs at least have these?   Helloooo, is anyone listening out there?



9.20pm duly arrived and in walked Wendy.



“Barry’s here, Wendy -  come out and meet him!” cried Tina.



I stood up as Wendy entered the room.  She was a couple of centimetres taller than Tina yet due to her age, was thinner than her mother.  I wasn't quite sure what to do, so I gave her a hug.  She smiled coyly at me.



“You’re taller than I thought!” she said.  Wendy’s English sounded better than her mother.  Tina then said,



Whilst Barry’s here with us, Wendy, we’ll speak nothing but English, okay?”



Wendy smiled and agreed to this.  I then gave both her and Tina a nice set of leather baseball caps I’d carried over from Australia in my backpack.  Boy, was I glad to get rid of them.  They'd been nothing but dead weight in my backpack on the Mt Emei climb, when literally every ounce counted!



“Cool!”, exclaimed Wendy.  She seemed to like her new cap.  I’m unsure if Tina did though, as she was always quite conscious of what she wore.   When ourdoors, in fact she never wore anything except for the perspex sun visor that you can see in most of her photos.



Wendy then looked at my arms that were a little hairier than the typically smooth Chinese ones.  She stroked my arm and said, “Interesting!”



The three of us bantered for half an hour or so until Tina decided to take me back to my hotel.  I’d checked in there earlier in the afternoon.  It was a nice three and a half to four star one that she was getting reduced rates on, due to some sort of sweetheart deal that I didn't fully comprehend.  It had been decided that I was to not stay at her place, in order to maintain face, that is, not give any reason for the neighbours to gossip.



Best of all: my hotel had a normal pedestal toilet.  Hallelujah brother!  No more need to adopt weird yoga positions, simply to do a number two!



As I lay in my bed that night, I wondered what Wendy would say to her mother about me following our initial meeting.  She seemed to like me, but then again, it was still too early to be sure.  What would tomorrow bring?



今天,我们会离开清阴亭地区回去TINA的家乡沙湾,一个只有几千人的小镇,这个小镇离乐山并不太远。乐山是一个大一些的镇子,从成都开车过去要一个小时。然后,在我们回去TINA的家乡之前,我们得回到我们第一晚所住的旅馆去。在那里我和TINA留下了好多我们认为对爬山不是很必要的东西。那里的经理很好,帮我们很好的保管着那些物品,就等我们回去拿。



第一晚的旅馆不是在任何一个小镇中,而是在某个小村庄里,没有任何特别的名字,因为它很小。它的位置在峨嵋山脚下,靠近FUHU庙。



为了可以回到第一晚的旅馆,TINA和我得从我们目前的位置坐公车回去。然后,当我们快走到公交车站的时候,一个中国男人朝我们走了过来,开始跟TINA快速的说话。原来,他是一个的士司机,他想要直接载我们去旅馆而不用坐公车。他说他只收一半的钱,因为车里的一对年轻的中国夫妇会跟我们平摊费用。



如果你之前没坐过中国的的士,那可要做好准备了,你的生命可握在他们的手里。他们有一些人是非常安全的司机,而有一些呢则简直就是疯子。如果你象遇到象这样一个牛仔的话,你多半会发现你超过了所有的东西却在路的错误的方向的另一端,而车则对着所有移动的东西嘟嘟狂响。如果这不是完全的危险,也将会是非常吵闹的。



在这场特别的旅程中,我们就遇到了这样一个疯子。在一个死角超车?对于他来说没有问题,只要他让的嗽一路不停的狂响。超过双黄线?同样没问题。我觉得在这20分钟的旅程中,他在车的嗽肯定狂响了整整最少10分钟。



最后,由于严重的塞车,我们的车被迫停了下来。那个司机指了指对面路上。我们看过来,看到一个中国男人用着拳打一个中国女人,那个女人趴到了地上。在我们观望的时候,我们这边路上的一个女人冲了过去帮忙。但是,就在这时我们的的士又开了起来。我不知道这个打架起因是什么,但是是一个非常可怕的场面。



它让我想起了我以前去上海的进修见到的一个事情。我那时在一个地下大厅,那里有各种地铁。在我的前面,突然一个女人对着一个相当不整洁的男人狂叫起来,而那个男人也对开始对那个女人大喊大叫。突然那个男人开始打那个女人直到一个过路人快快的跑了过来,停止了这个打斗。



和我在一起的同伴不想被牵进这个事情里,不停地催我快点走。


Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
Comments
(Showing 1 to 8 of 8) 1
#2014-06-09 14:54:40 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Barry, your description of a long distance Chinese taxi ride is both hilarious and completely accurate, I can vouch for that. Even worse sometimes are the buses, where the drivers seem to take boundless joy in scaring the living crap out of every passenger under his care. My wife and I took a 5 hour bus ride through the mountains of Yunnan in which the driver spent at least 60% of the time on the wrong side of the road, passing an endless stream of traffic. And you could forget sleeping to avoid the fear, because he honked that bloody air horn every 4 seconds whether it was needed or not.

Another great read Barry, from my point of view, but I am curious - is Tina reading these blogs, and if so, does she like what she sees?

#2014-06-09 15:48:18 by Barry1 @Barry1

@JohnAbbot

Thanks for telling me about the maniac bus drivers, John - because tomorrow I have to travel for several hours in two of them! (sweat)

As for Tina, she doesn't bother to read a word that I write. She never even looks at the CLM website. I'm sure that one day however, she'll likely sit down and read everything, maybe in one go. But at the moment, I can get away with murder with what I write! (rofl)

#2014-06-09 21:42:10 by Christina22 @Christina22

Barry,I am sure Wendy like you.She says nicely to you"Interesting!" And you are not a bad person,she will like you.
You are looking for a nice chinese woman,not a nice place from China.China is big and of course many tricks,bad and good things.So what? It doesn't mean too much for you to find a nice lady.

#2014-06-10 00:07:30 by sandy339 @sandy339

yes, everything goes well as far, even her daughter is nice to you, it is amazing to me,..There is a lot to expect... Good Luck!
Oh, BTW,congratulations for a normal pedestal toilet you finally got, haha:D

#2014-06-10 22:13:00 by Barry1 @Barry1

@Christina22

Thanks for your thoughts, Christina.

Yes, I agree that finding the right person is much more important than anything else. It's a lot harder than it looks however. I've giving it my best shot right now - fingers' crossed for a good result!

#2014-06-10 22:15:29 by Barry1 @Barry1

@sandy339

Yes, Tina's daughter is lovely, Sandy. I'll tell you more about her a bit later.

As for toilets, yes, I'm so glad I found one where I don't need to adopt the lotus position in order to use it! :D

#2014-06-15 16:13:39 by still67 @still67

Well , I guess I have heard of everything now, squat toilets? There is no way for me, I have some health problems. Replaced hips, which are causing me problems a lot of pain. I would probably end up with some bad ''charlie horses'', that are , of course, very painful, and some other problems, so no way. I have been to Switzerland many years ago, honeymoon, for 2 weeks , and I loved it. It was almost like tthe states, except most foods were better. Now, I would like to say that I have met the love of my life on this site. I will be going over, sometime in the next 2 months. I have some things that I have to take care of here at home first. I am looking forward to meeting Peizhen.

#2014-06-19 16:07:56 by Barry1 @Barry1

@still67

"I would like to say that I have met the love of my life on this site."

This is fantastic news, Still67 - congratulations! I hope to hear more of this as time unfolds. (y)

But yes, the squat toilets here are shocking for those of us without the suppleness of a ballerina and the dexterity of a contortionist.

Like you, I cannot bend my knees properly. Sorry to any Chinese ladies reading this, but I'm not double jointed and find adopting the lotus position simply to do ablutions almost impossible.

So basically, my stay in China means that I cannot use any of their standard toilets! (sweat)

Please make sure that when you come to China, wherever you stay has a proper pedestal toilet. Most of the decent hotels have these; most of the cheaper hotels do not. Just to let you know.

Cheers mate. :)

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