We have been busy, So busy, infact, that the Chinese side of our branch decided that what we needed to relax was a comfortable afternoon on a beach playing silly party games. And so that’s what we did.
We all turned up on the beach mildly surprised. It was beautiful. Situated between a large, 8 lane main road and flyover, and an incredibly wide river, the beach was a peaceful haven. Upon the beach stood palm trees, a few failed sandcastles and holes in the sand, and a few platforms with benches and wooden roofs. Under one of these the rest of our branch were sat.
We began by sorting ourselves into teams, with the two team leaders being green and purple, by taking a counter out of a bag. Purple team had to wear make up. Second were the chances to make up a team name and motto that we never used again – Turns out the Chinese staff can’t say ‘Purple Nurple’ and hadn’t a clue that the green team’s name was a pun of the leaders surname. Green and Purple teams it was.
We began with a long winded explanation of pictionary by our admin – about 7 minutes it took her to explain that we are all stood in a line and draw something, show the next guy who draws… the one on the end guesses. “20 seconds each to draw,” she says “Then we’ll race.” Turns out, there was no winner, both teams took 20+20+20+20+20+20+2= 82 seconds to draw and guess. She changed it up and we replayed.
“Now you have a five minute break and then we will play the next game” she announced over her loudspeaker.
Game two was singing; each team lined up Chinese English Chinese English Chinese English Chinese and a Chinese song was played quietly at one end. They then had to sing it down the line to the Chinese player at the other who guessed. As Callum and I don’t sing, we didn’t play, and Callum (unannounced) slipped off for a walk.
Game three was a game for 6 people. The admin called out a number for hands and a number for feet and the six from each team had to arrange themselves so they were the only body parts touching the floor. “Where’s Callum?” Everyone started “Sam, where’s Callum?” I said I didn’t know, maybe in the bathroom, and still 5 minutes later the chorus rang “Where’s Callum?” As the strongest member of the Purple Nurples, they couldn’t start the game without him. Lucky Callum.
Naturally, they won, with us greens failing pretty badly. Have only 5 hands and three feet on the floor – turns out, I can’t balance on one foot whilst holding someone off the floor. Game four was a game of ‘get as many of these balloons from one side to the other whilst you’re tied together in threes but don’t use your hands’. ‘Now do it again but you’re too good at this so you have to do it back to back’ ‘Goddamn it, stop being so good, now you have to change partners and do it face to face’ were rounds three and four. Neither team had enough balloons and were slowed down by other team members trying to pump them as we went round. Don’t worry, the greens still won that one.
Finally, after our sixth “five minute break” our game was explained – a real Battle Royal affair – tie a balloon to each of your ankles, protect yours, pop others. Seeing danger in the future, many of the teams protested, and so we each pitted our best warriors against each other. From the green team came the leader, and from the Nurples came Callum. Ready, set, go.
No hands were allowed, so it did look a little like a cock fight, the two men jumping up and hitting each other with their chests as they tried to stand with force on the opposing teams balloons. Evasive techniques necessary. After two sweaty minutes of feet flicking and chest bashing the Green Team came away victorious. Nurples weren’t standing for that and we ended up with leader against leader. Again with the chesting, and a few headbutts in sternums, a couple of kicks to the backs of the knees, and guess what, purples won!
What an afternoon, The Purple Nurples were the winners overall. Everyone then went their separate ways, sleepy and a little rough.
The next adventure was up a new mountain – QiShan, or Flag Mountain (because apparently it looks like a flag).
We’d heard another teacher talk about this before, but had never got enough info to get there ourselves. When a friend suggested we check it out we jumped at the opportunity. meeting at the local coffee shop in the AM, we jumped on 2 busses across town, then flagged down a mini van for an hour of bumpy winding mountain road. As we climbed into the mountains the jungle got thicker, and eventually the trees joined over the road so we were driving through a green tunnel, in thickening fog. The road was single lane, chewed up by forestry vehicles, and every 50 meters was a blind hairpin bend where the driver would beep his horn and hope for the best. Sitting on the bench seat in the back trying to eat last nights leftover chilli and rice with chopsticks while bouncing out of my seat was certainly a challenge.
Eventually the road ended in a run down parking lot and a manned ticket office. We bought our tickets and some specially formulated monkey food (bbq flavour potato chips), and wandered into the park in completely the wrong direction.
Steered back by the locals of a tiny agrarian village, we knew we were on the right track when the trees around us started rustling and shaking. Before long there were macaques of all ages sliding down the trees lining the path. Wary, but obviously accustomed to tourists, they quickly hoovered up the chips we timidly threw on the floor and climbed back up into the canopy. Expecting to see many more, we pressed on into the Forrest, first down a logging road, passing hundreds of apiarys among the trees, eventually reaching a small dam and reservoir. Here we turned off the road onto a smaller forest path, that wound along a river through pine and bamboo groves, passing a series of huge waterfalls and pools. Eventually we reached a rope bridge of epic proportions, spanning a canyon who knows how deep and wide, with a waterfall on one side and a spectacular view into the misty mountains on the other.
After a spot of lunch, we began the climb back up a million stairs out of the valley we had explored. Eventually making our way back to the same logging road, we found the path blocked by a hulking beast of a monkey. Clearly the alpha male around these parts, we named him Ajax, and paid our toll of potato chips to pass along his road. As we wandered on, we again heard a familiar rustling in the trees, and were soon being shadowed by the entire monkey clan
, who grew steadily bolder, (as did we), eventually taking peanuts from our hands. There were babies clinging to the underside of their mothers, and we weren’t allowed too close to them, as they regarded us with a curiosity we are very used to here. Seeing so much healthy thriving wildlife in China was awesome, and you don’t have to go far out of the city before you reach it. Anyway, enough talk, look at some pictures.