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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 - Day11 我的中国之行—第11天    

By Barry Pittman
13392 Views | 71 Comments | 6/4/2014 2:18:41 PM

The pouring rain that occurred again this morning slowly dissipated as I began my day. Tina had warned me before coming here, that this area frequently rained in summer, so requested that I please bring two pairs of all the important clothing and footwear that I needed.with me, plus any other pertinent rain gear I could think of.

As usual, I was alone in the hotel room, located about fifteen minutes fast walk from Tina's place. She still had paid for everything on this trip, refusing my requests to go to a bank to convert my Aussie dollars to Chinese yuan.

In one way, living separate from her had its advantages. I could go to bed in the hotel room as late as I liked, that was how I was typically able to write these daily journals. Last night for example, I'd been writing till after one in the morning, whilst Tina no doubt was blissfully sleeping back in her apartment.

It also allowed us some "apart time". We weren't living constantly with each other, that in my eyes meant that the time we were actually together was more precious. Quality surely is better than quantity?

On this morning however, Tina had walked up to my hotel, bringing me some fresh fruit for breakfast. We discussed what to do during the day - it was decided to visit the "Big Buddha" on the outskirts of Leshan, a larger town than Shawan where we were now. It meant a 40 minutes bus ride from here.

Having made our plans, we then needed to go to Tina's place to retrieve a few bits and pieces for the day's outing. We set off on the two kilometre walk to her abode that soon saw us jogging along the river that runs through Shawan. Soon Tina tired of this but for some reason, I felt great and jogged the entire short hop back to her place. She was a little surprised at my running ability, I think.

"If we go to Leshan by taxi, it'll be much quicker", said Tina.

"But won't it be a bit expensive?"

"No Barry, because we'll share the taxi with some other people."

This practice is common in China, much more so than in Australia - the reduction in fare costs through taxi sharing. It makes a lot of sense. If a taxi driver can't immediately get someone to share the trip however, what he does is stop at every major bus stop, shouting at people, telling them where he's going. Soon enough, the taxi becomes filled with four or five paying passengers.

In our case, the half hour drive to Shawan cost us 30 yuan per head, less than five dollars for a thirty or forty kilomtre trip.

To my surprise, on my way to the Big Buddha, I saw something I'd not seen before in either of my previous two trips here. A traffic accident that had just occurred. Or more accurately, a pushbike rider had been hit by a motorbike rider and was lying on his back by the side of the road, with half a dozen people tending to him. Much as I would have liked to have rubber necked a bit more at the accident scene, the taxi I was in rushed by, so I can't report any more than this. I really hoped the hapless victim was okay. Particularly if he was the breadwinner in the family – the last thing a trusting wife and a hungry kid needs is for the father to end up in hospital (or the morgue).

For those who are unaware, traffic in China is best described as chaotic. Drivers are continually blasting their horns at each other, double lines mean nothing, nor do any discernible road rules. Pedestrians trying to cross the road at zebra crossing take their life into their own hands. Earlier today I even saw a police vehicle completely ignore some citizens half way across the road at one of these crossings, veering around them as if they were just a damned nuisance. I'd seen this before with another police vehicle, so it was no surprise. Other times I’d seen cars swerving left and right around people walking across the road on a crossing, rather than have to suffer the indignity or inconvenience of stopping. It’s rather comical to watch for a Westerner like me. I chuckle inwardly to myself every time I see a hapless citizen attempting to cross a road at a crossing, watching all the cars completely and utterly ignore them. I don’t know why they even bother to paint crossings at all!

Yet despite all this endemic chaos, accidents amazingly seem to be somewhat unusual. maybe because everyone’s been brought up from childhood that motorized discord and disorder is in fact the norm. The Chinese appear to be able to somehow create order out of seeming chaos, a special ability indeed. Possibly their brains are a little more advanced than Westerners? Asians tend to always do well on IQ tests, after all.

In any case, Tina and I were in due course dropped at the Big Buddha by our taxi, an ediface carved in rock adjacent to a fast flowing river. I was told this in fact was the largest Buddha in the world. Wow, that’s saying something, given there are so many thousands of happy, bai bai pang pang Buddhas out there.

Housed in this precinct also were a bunch of temples, all with smaller gold plated Buddhas in them. In the largest one of these, I pulled out my portable video camera and was merrily filming when suddenly I received a tap on my arm. A stern faced monk motioned to me to get out. No filming allowed. He didn’t look too pleased with my actions, so I quickly skulked out of the place, tail between my legs, akin to a cowering mongrel dog that’d just been caught by its master licking the gravy off the dinner plates on the dining room table.

Yet in all of the many other temples I’d visited dotted around Mt Emei, filming had been permitted in most of them. So I was a little surprised at my admonition and was secretly pleased that I’d been able to get some great video footage of the interior. Sadly video can’t be shown on the website, only still photos.

Given that no camera flashes or lights were used, why are cameras or vidcams barred from certain places anyway? Perhaps to maintain a certain mystery and intrigue about what they house? If this is the reason, then being a bit of a rebel occasionally, I’m happy to practice a little civil disobedience from time to time.

Tina and I were still getting on very well. I continually appreciated her sweet disposition. In return, I think she liked my slim physique and overall fitness. She’d often ask, “Are you tired, Barry?”, to which I’d always respond, “No, I’m fine… let’s keep going.” Now that I reflect upon it, small questions like this were helping to affirm in her mind that despite our fifteen year age difference, I wasn’t an unfit, tired old fart after all.

In the early afternoon, we had a fish lunch. A live fish was scooped out of a plastic tub lying on the ground in front of the little eating place by the lady proprietor, lifted up above her head and then the fish’s head was slammed violently against the stone floor.

Oh my God!” I thought when I saw this. “I’ll never eat another fish in China!”

As we were eating, from time to time other customers also ordered fish. I witnessed the same procedure again and again – a large fish would be lifted out of the tub in a small net and then violently slammed against the floor. I saw one Chinese lady do this three times to a hapless creature before it finally stopped moving. Mainly because the Chinese woman - unlike other restaurant ladies who I’d witnessed doing this task - wasn’t putting enough strength into her hits. I’m a believer that if you must kill something, then please do it quickly and humanely.

I also saw helpless turtles sitting in some of the tubs, no doubt awaiting a grisly end. How they’d kill a large turtle though was something I dared not reflect upon. Surely not lift them up and slam them down on the stone floor as happened to the fish? I took some photos of these animals and upon seeing this, the lady in the shop laughed at me, wondering “What’s that silly Westerner doing?”

I felt sorry for the animals but sadly, one must eat in order to live. I draw the line however, at ingesting beef, pork or chicken. Tina and I are thankfully compatible in this area, she eats very little red or white meat, unless buying it for her daughter, Wendy.

Following our tour of the impressive Big Buddha, Tina and I caught a three wheeled bicycle driven pedicab back to the central business district of Leshan, awaiting a bus ride back to Shawan. It was hilarious though, as part of this ride involved a pot hole filled dirt road and the pedicab had no springs or suspension in it. So we were merrily bouncing up and down as we moved along, like pieces of popcorn being baked in an oven. Ahh, experiences like these are what I love, things so out of left field and outrageous in the Western world that here they become downright amusing!

To my great surprise on the bus trip home, I witnessed another traffic accident. Two cars had come together, with no one hurt. But this was two accidents I’d seen in the one day – unusual indeed!

Bopping along in the bus I feel asleep, drooping my head forwards.

“Wake up, Barry!”, Tina prodded me. She wanted me to stay fresh and alert for some reason. But within five minutes, it was Tina that then fell asleep, lightly snoring in a feminine way. This wonderful Chinese woman looked so cute and radiant sitting there, oblivious to the world. I mused to myself, “I’m so glad I came to China.”

That evening back in Shawan, Tina took me for a walking tour around the city. It was full of men playing cards, presumably mahjong. Usually money was involved. Tina explained to me that many Chinese males don’t stay at home with their families, but prefer to “go out with the boys” and have a bit of card playing fun.

We also entered a KTV bar, just to take a look. In each room, a large projector and projector screen were evident, with a set of cordless microphones.

“I never sing because my voice no good”, advised Tina. I agreed with her, saying the same thing about my karaoke singing. The KTV bar charged 30 yuan per hour for a smaller room or 40 yuan per hour for a larger one.

We then headed home to Tina’s place, just as her daughter Wendy arrived home from school. It was 9.20pm.

This was my cue to head back to my hotel in one of those interesting pedicabs with no lights nor reflectors. I did this each evening now, heart in mouth stuff, wondering each time if I was to be hit by a car driven by a drunken driver or one of the many speeding and law breaking cabs in the town.

For the first time on this trip, as I was leaving, Tina told her daughter, “Give Barry a kiss goodnight.”

At this, Wendy stepped forward, without seeming to be in any way reticent or shy, which pleasantly surprised me. I leant over and gave her a peck on the cheek. She smiled at me as I then departed.

As far as online Chinese dating goes, there are no set rules. But Tina asking her daughter to please give me a quick goodbye kiss seemed to be a major signal of approval toward me. I hoped then I was on the right track, as far as this intriguing courtship was concerned.

Somehow though, something wasn’t quite right. A vague dissonance was present, a ripple upon the millpond.

"What am I worrying about?”, I wondered to myself on the trip home. These same feelings that I felt most evenings now rattled me a bit. A trumpeting elephant was in the room with me, but where?

I knew that when the time was right of course, all would then be revealed, for good or for bad.  I hoped it wasn't for bad.


















TINA和我仍然相处得非常的好。我一直都很喜欢她温柔的性质。我想,她喜欢我修长健康的体格。她经常问我“BARRY,你累吗?”我总是回答,“不,我很好不累,我们继续吧。” 我现在回想起这些,我想这些小问题有助于帮助她在心里确认一点,虽然我们有15岁的差异,但是我可不是一个容易疲倦的老家伙








“醒醒BARRY”,TINA捅捅我,出于某种原因,她想让我保持清醒警觉。但是在五分钟之内,却轮到TINA她自己睡着了,轻轻地发出女性所特有的打鼾声。她看起来是如此的可爱,坐在那里是如此的光芒四射,忘却了整个世界。我寻思道“ 很高兴自己这趟来中国。”










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#2014-06-13 05:43:43 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

Barry, there were several things that have stood out for me in this post. One that I think demands immediate attention, and others I am just checking to be sure, but all that involve some well meaning advice that I hope is not being too intrusive.

First, the possibly urgent advice:

1. Run, do not walk, RUN!!! to the nearest ATM that will accept your foreign card, and pay Tina every dime she has spent on you and give her a heartfelt gift with it.

In most cultures, even yours and mine, it is common courtesy to reject the first attempt to repay a small debt, expecting the debtor to insist, and then graciously accepting it on the second offer. But in Chinese culture you can multiply the importance of this social play by 10 times.

I have observed this play out in China over and over again. Just as an example, you might invite me for dinner, wanting to use the time to seek my advice. We both know this dinner was arranged by you, I am giving of my time, and by implication you are expected to pay. However, when the bill arrives we will both reach for it and I will say, magnanimously but not meaning it, "Here, I'll get that." You will quickly grab the bill and say "Don't be silly. I invited you and I'm getting the tab!". I will then graciously accept your kind offer. About a 30 second conversation.

In China this same scenario may play out for 5 minutes, going back and forth like a lengthy ping pong rally. But in the end, after a long (and very boring to us Western bystanders) jostle, inevitably the true debtor will always end up paying the bill. And my guess is that if he/she didn't, it would be the last dinner involving these two parties to ever happen.

Tina is being extremely polite, but also, I suspect, very Chinese, and I am becoming deeply concerned she may be reaching the conclusion that either you are a cheap bastard or you don't like her much, or perhaps both (and I know neither is the case). Because in true Chinese tradition the man will not only never let the woman pay for anything, not his expenses and not even her own, but he will also be showering the woman he is wooing with gifts.

Things are changing in China, but not so fast and not so much, that you should feel free to let this gesture of hers ride.

NOTE: in 2 thru 4 I imagine you are doing the things I am suggesting, but I'm raising it here because you haven't specifically said you are. Ignore if you are simply not mentioning these small things in your blogs.

2. You wrote: "We weren't living constantly with each other, that in my eyes meant that the time we were actually together was more precious. Quality surely is better than quantity?" But is it possible that Tina would really want you to think of staying in her home as the very best "quality time" and is hoping you'll ask her to do so?

3. You wrote: "On this morning however, Tina had walked up to my hotel, bringing me some fresh fruit for breakfast.". You haven't mentioned it, and maybe you are doing it, but have you ever walked over to Tina's with a pre-made breakfast for her and Wendy? Or any other gestures like that? This goes back to the tradition that in China the men really do woo the woman and do a lot of things to make her feel special.

4. You wrote: "Soon Tina tired of this but for some reason, I felt great and jogged the entire short hop back to her place. She was a little surprised at my running ability, I think." Is it possible that she was a little surprised you didn't feel some compassion for her and slow down to walk with her and keep her company during the trek home.

For that matter, she seems to frequently ask you if you're ok, if you want a rest, etc. Is it possible she hopes you'll ask her if she's ok, if she wants a rest?

Again, I'm hoping this may be helpful and it is not meant to be critical or intrusive.

#2014-06-13 06:49:27 by anonymous10383 @anonymous10383

John, I whole heartedly agree with everything you say. Barry, listen to John before it is too late.....

a Chinese woman will not ask her daughter to kiss you goodnight unless she deems you worthy.......

It also seems Tina is trying hard to be a little more western for you but she is also giving signs to you...many signs.....

if you wait too much longer I am afraid the opportunity shall be lost mate...

you are 11 days into your many more are you going to let slip by?

Remember George is waiting in the wings.......

I am wholeheartedly rooting for the both of you.....

#2014-06-13 08:13:59 by anonymous10386 @anonymous10386

@John - I have to totally agree with you on the debt-must-be-repaid thing. I have experienced this many times, with Chinese women and Chinese men. You MUST satisfy the debt, no matter the level of friendship or courtship. It is expected. Otherwise, like you mentioned, the person will be viewed as a cheap selfish bastard.

Regarding Tina's gift breakfast...once again, Barry needs to return the favor. I would have thought Barry would be doing nice things for Tina throughout the trip anyways, but it sounds like it has all been in one direction so far.

Finally, running or walking ahead of a woman is ridiculously rude. I have seen a lot of Asian men do this to their ladies, but it is completely unacceptable for a westerner. Barry should know better. I hope he is not doing this.

All is not lost however, if Barry gets it in gear and starts showing he's a provider and a gentleman!

#2014-06-13 08:57:36 by woaizhongguo @woaizhongguo

I have to agree with John on the financial situation. In China, there is often an elaborate kabuki (sorry for the mixed cultural reference) over paying the bill, which John has described quite accurately. In the end, the person who is supposed to pay the bill, pays the bill--and everyone knows who is supposed to pay the bill. If that person does not, the amount of face lost is devastating. So I would encourage you to follow John's advice about hauling ass to an ATM machine and throwing in a nice gift in addition, since my sense is that you are losing a lot face, respectability, every day not only by having someone else pay but having a woman pay. Tina may be different than any other Chinese girl I have ever met (and she is the only Chinese girl I ever heard of who passed up an opportunity to sing) but the culture certainly expects you to pay--and I am pretty certain she expects you to pay as well. If you insist she take the money, and I mean forcefully, imploringly, as if your relationship depends upon her taking the money (and it might) she will, because this is the right thing to do (just like if you insisted she sang, I guarantee she would have sung--false modesty is as much a part of Chinese culture as chopsticks). Good luck!

#2014-06-13 11:41:03 by aussieghump @aussieghump

Couldn't agree more JohnAbbot...and I too am giving you this 'advice' in good faith!

1) money and paying for things is very important!
In China the game is 'No, No, No....Yes!' with money and you are a 'rich man' in this environment and regardless of what Tina says, she is racking up a considerable bill for the hotel, food and travel. Putting it simply, I suspect that your trip has cost her somewhere in the vicinity of 3-5 months salary!
If she will not accept money for 'hospitality' then urge her to keep it for her 'daughter's education'. She may be proud to accept money from you for being a host, but nothing says more than 'good husband material' than thinking about and providing for her daughter!

2) Quality vs Quantity - same thing in China - she deliberately showed you the 'bad men' of the town to tell you not to be one of them! Being together is important, but being together in the home is 'quality time'... you have to think husband and wife... walking around she is being a good host - not a wife! Get in the home and show your usefulness here - then you will advance in good ways.

The kiss goodnight is also a huge indicator of your acceptance in the family - no doubt mother and daughter have been talking about possibilities and the daughter has agreed to accept you as her mother's partner! If you want to up-the-ante, offer to do something with the daughter - ask her to take you shopping for vegetables so you can make a meal for them! Be careful that you do not impose - just say 'I'm going to buy vegetables for dinner, would you like to help me!' or ask if you can walk with her to school to see where she goes to school, or suggest that you both go meet the daughter at the school so you can walk together as a family!

You need to be very careful here - if you are not serious, you need to not get ensconced in the family... if you want to go further, you have to join in the family activities as a 'father' in the Chinese sense.

She is looking for alignment to her values!!!

3) If you want to move in a family way, get in the kitchen and prepare something 'as a family'. Maybe ask the daughter what she wants to eat when she gets home after school and prepare (or buy it) and take it along. Even some snacks or fruit on one of your evening strolls is good!

4) Show some compassion man! You are not trying to out-run her! What a silly competition you are setting up here in your mind!
Yes, she looks after you when you are ailing (and you like that) and when you could be 'giving some concern back' you are off being yourself...alone!
In general, Chinese ladies are looking for little points where you help and show concern for them...we have seen in other comments that they are concerned with health and fitness and living a long life together - don't mess it up by ignoring this fact.
If you want to move to a 'permanent position' slow down, offer to rest or even gallantly 'stop to take a sip of water' and offer her some!
Your new found levels of testosterone are messing with your head, Barry!

You are right Barry - a storm is coming! But the storm centres around you and what you are prepared to do to show 'alignment' in a Chinese sense - are you a good husband, father, provider and support for the family?

#2014-06-13 12:03:17 by melcyan @melcyan

Wise words. I know from experience that this Chinese game is hard to play but you do have to play it and pay when the time is right. Sometimes you have to pay early, you don't wait for the bill. I have paid a bill early and then watched the dramatic bill paying contest with interest. My partner told me afterwards that all her friends were envious of her. She gained face by my actions.(probably the men lost some face but my partner was happy, and I can probably get away with something like this once - after all I am an ignorant westerner) The other point you made about gestures that put your partner first is also very important. I used to sometimes walk ahead of my partner to check a street sign to make sure we were going the right way. My partner I hated this. Now we always walk along side each other and I don't worry about saving a small amount of time.

#2014-06-13 13:54:54 by yueming @yueming

Too tedious lengthy travels, trivial, no key, filled with criticism, he did not know, a lot of Chinese will not have his behavior!
Barry was a trip by Tina responsible for reception, I can't see a man to the beloved woman from afar, I only saw Barry hesitation and inner suspicion, I admit that the East West cultural differences, but Barry in the face of a woman that I like, immediately after his mistake holiday, but also hesitated more than, I felt he was not worthy of Tina, Tina and her daughter should get happiness, Tina should have a better husband, like a real man, brave, persistence, open-minded, love in action and pay, I expect Tina to have better result!
I am opposed to Tina let daughter kisses Barry, this is in Chinese rather than in the west, and they are just friends!
I don't know if Tina's hometown, but I understand Barry said environment,

#2014-06-13 15:59:37 by anonymous10399 @anonymous10399

(giggle)(giggle)What am I worrying about?”

When you feel happy,warm and nice to be together.No need to worry about...

#2014-06-13 19:55:04 by Barry1 @Barry1







Thanks so much for all the great advice, gentlemen.

I apologise in advance for answering you all as a group, but I'm finding it increasingly difficult to go off by myself and tap away on the laptop. Tina has so far exhibited great patience with me in this area but my radar is detecting a slight lowering of her patience in this area.

Not that I blame her - the purpose of this trip is to concentrate on her, after all.

Let me say though that your well meaning and helpful advice won't go unheeded. I'll start pressuring her to take me to a bank - and I'll stop running ahead of her on our walks - and everything else that you've suggested. Except maybe for cooking a meal as I'm hopeless in the kitchen! (giggle)

#2014-06-13 20:59:36 by anonymous10403 @anonymous10403

Extremely useful cultural observations and advice from John, Gareth, Paul and the rest. Thank you all. It's not enough to be enamored with the idea of marriage with a Chinese woman because of the many general positive qualities we may appreciate from the man's point of view. One indeed must remain cognizant of the many cultural differences and subtleties inherent in such an undertaking. At the very least, such recognition shows a level of mutual respect, affection, and caring that any marriage would need as a foundational basis. I'm sure Barry understands this, but I admit to wondering at times. I'm definitely cheering him on. He has a great friend in Tina, at the very least.

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