Speak Chinese, you’re in China

August 16, 2015

Wooden Kanji P

One thing to do on the Yellow Mountain is to get up at 4am and see the sunrise, because the cliffs are so sheer you can see the sun rise over the surrounding area really clearly – if it’s not cloudy!

We headed to Monkey Over the Sea of Clouds and got a good spot at around 4:45am. I say good spot, we could see the view although we were standing halfway up a boulder with a 30 degree angle so the legs were being given a workout!

It was a pretty tiny ledge considering there were around 50 people on it. The people at the front of the ledge decided to spread out over the entire front space so no one else could sit there, the one boy was even having a nap lying down. It didn’t occur to any of the Chinese people to ask them to move so we could all spread out over the space.

As we approached the sun rise time of 5:18 more and more people were flooding into the area from the hotels that are close by, Chinese crowd mentality doesn’t take into account whether someone arrived before you or not, so they started to get really annoyed that we were stood in front of them, so that they couldn’t see.

People at the back were crammed, standing on a rounded rock, pushing us in the back consistently to try and push us out of the way so that they could see – this happens a lot in Chinese crowds, they will push into your space without any consideration for where you’re going to go.

There was no space in front so we just had to hold fast and make sure they didn’t push us anywhere dangerous. Like the 1000m cliff that was 5m away.

As you can imagine, all this at four in the morning is pretty grating and we put up with it for almost an hour but it was constant and when I asked them if they’d mind not pushing they’d say, it’s fine it doesn’t matter. The language barrier was big here. They are so selfish in a crowd mentality.

Since there’s a cable car most people on Huangshan are not nature people, in fact there are little kids as young as 5, fat men and women complaining that they’re tired, old men and women staggering up and down the steps. All this is fine with me except when you get to the top of a peak in Huangshan the area to stand narrows to a tip, about 5m squared. That is when they don’t appreciate that you shouldn’t push people out the way with a precipice right next to you, they shouldn’t run down steps because they’re uneven, we’ve seen many people fall down a few steps. There are huge tour groups everywhere. It really takes your focus away from the beauty here and it is the most beautiful place but you feel like you need to be wary of the people around you at all times.

All this would be fine, I believe people are free to make their own choices and live the life that they want to live, as long as they respect where the people around them are coming from and how they want to live their life.

What I can’t understand is when I asked someone to stop pushing and she happened to speak English, she said: “Speak Chinese, you’re in China.”

I happen to be learning Chinese and it’s hard. I can say many things that people understand but my handle on their language doesn’t extend to stop pushing me, because there’s a big canyon there that I might fall into. In many ways it encapsulates the standard thoughts on foreigners, you’re in our country so you must do as we do.

I agree with that to an extent but what if it’s not possible, what if I can’t speak Chinese? In general Chinese people have been completely unaccommodating in these situations. They won’t even use body language if broken Chinese doesn’t work, they’ll just keep talking at you.

The Chinese middle class has grown over the past five years and the Yellow Mountain is a box to tick for all of them, since I was here last the amount of people on the mountain was noticeably more, this is why I wouldn’t come back here again.