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How I got into Chinese, and read Chinese, and enjoyed it when I was 65 years old about 5 years ago


Nov 21, 2018
Taiwan, Province Of China
How I got into Chinese, and read Chinese, and enjoyed it when I was 65 years old about 5 years ago.

And you can do the same too.
For those Chinese and who are bilingual enough to be here but with friends and relatives that yearned to get into English but failed , the reverse of this might be very useful to pass on to their friends to get into English.

Or any of the living languages.

And those Chinese in Mainland China, you might even get to know more of the Chinese language than you can imagine.
And know more of Libai the poet than your were ever been taught in school

And your choice to use Ponds cold cream to wank yourself off.
Or to use wet coarse sand and grit to do that.
You read on below and the choice is clear to you as the way to get into Chinese or any other language :D

The Idiotic Taoist way of getting into Chinese https://www.thedaobums.com/topic/39685-the-idiotic-taoist-way-of-getting-into-chinese/

I extract the first 6 letters from there to get folks started here

Letter 1



Posted October 29, 2015 (edited)
You folks know I have been relatively quiet in the forum despite my leaving that life of 66-72 hours work week.

I have wanted to get deeper into Chinese even though I can speak Chinese fluently enough with the 200-300 chinese words under my belt.

Fragments of earlier memories of Taiwan

Above chronicled how I got into Chinese language and other strange things that happened to me in Taiwan.

Extracted from above

I need to start at the beginning.

I was invited to work and live in Taipei, Taiwan as a Planning Advisor to the Government there on the building of the Taipei Metro System in 1990.

The first couple of month there, I could only order beef noodle soup ‘ neu rou mien’ for dinner as those were the only words I knew. My lunches were better in that first couple of months. I would join my Taiwaness collegues who then do the ordering. In a country where 99% of the people find it mentally impossible to use English and only speak in Chinese or Taiwanese, learning their language was so important. The friendliest people I encountered in the world are Taiwanese who were more ready than not to help you learn and speak Chinese, perhaps so that they were not be forced to use English with you. The problem was in the evening when I had to do the ordering. Pointing at the food was not enough as Taiwanese in their friendliness will then asked you what sauces do you wish and what other preparations do you want. That was so incomprehensible to me that I was forced to back out of their restaurant and go order ‘neu rou mein’ at ‘neu rou mien’ stall again and again. Then when I managed to learn enough Chinese and ordered ‘ chee tui fan’ (chicken drumstick rice) and gotten that served to me, I knew I was going to make it there.

After a few months of initial shock and disbelief in the chaos of Taipei and despair as to why I allowed myself to be there, I found myself slowly falling in love, body and soul, with that country and her people. Having learned in the first few months how to communicate in Chinese helped a lot too. That was not just in ordering dinner. Buses had destinations all written in Chinese and incomprehensible to me and I just could not take the bus. There were no underground trains to take. Do recall I was there to build that system in the first place.

Prior to learning enough Chinese to get by, I had no choice but to walk in the vast city of Taipei. I walked probably faster than I could run nowadays. In those early days, I cursed the motor bikes and scooters riding on the pavements. Just a couple of weeks after that incredible hike I made in Taroko Gorge and meet my good friend ‘Lone Ranger’ or Chen Hung or CH(report here 'Extract of 1990 diary on Taiwan and Taroko Gorge' http://shanlung.com/taroko90dec.htm )
, I decided to continue on with what I wanted to do before. Which was to walk from Tayuling to Wushe. In 1991, the main East/West cross country/mountain highway was via Tayuling to Lishan and down to TaiChong. My trail was a rocky walking track from Tayuling over HoHuanShan and perhaps 45 km. My knee was still bad and ankle wobbly. That track was icy with elevation climb of 1000M. I recalled that as a wonderful morning stroll. The huge earthquake brought down half the mountain and the main East/West highway after Lishan and a new road was constructed where the track was. In 2003 when I rented a car to drive on that new road to Lishan with Tinkerbell and my wife. That drive was so tiring that I could not figured how I thought it was a stroll for me in 1991, when I was carrying a 20++ kg backpack as well on that same route.

And I walked over the Southern Cross Country Highway, with that backpack, and slept in sleeping bag off the road in the forest too.

Back to life in Taipei. When I knew the words ‘juo juan’ (left turn), ‘you juan’ (right turn) , ‘yi tse jou’ (go straight ahead) and could communicate with taxis to tell them where to go, I knew I was going to enjoy life there as well .

With the ability to order food, and to tell taxis where to take me, I thought I have died, and gone to Paradise.

I did make friends quickly, especially girls, and wanting to get into chinese quickly, I had a different girl each evening to coach me in Chinese. But we got distracted pretty soon and found other better things to do ( I was not the only one who got horny or felt horny). I never managed to get to the reading part because of those distractions. That being said, I could follow the chinese words sub titles in TV soap dramas because they were written by 8 years old. I could even kind of follow Japanese soap using those Chinese sub titles.

I did not believe in learning language such as the Taiwanese with yearning to learn English and yet despite studying English through 12 years of school and into the university and unable to string two coherent sentences in English.

My teaching of English to them was to scream at them not to learn English but to get into USING of English instead. I stood as example to them as they knew I could not speak chinese prior to getting in Taiwan. Yet in 3 months, I could speak to them in Chinese , and eavesdrop on chinese conversations by my side.

But I felt deprived that I could not read Chinese. Until I resigned and came back from Riyadh mid Aug this year that I decided I will get into Chinese.

Not to learn that bloody language, but to read Chinese and use that not withstanding I no longer have that harem of Chinese tutors here no more. (if they are here, I doubt I get deeper into Chinese for reasons above)

I do not advise you folks to read the TTC or Chuangtze for a start.

I started with Water Margin 水滸傳 . I read this book before in English. I recommend the best translation by Pearl S Buck titled All Man are Brothers.

The 水滸傳 is readily found on the Internet and free as this was written 700 or so years ago.

2 very important resource for anyone who want to get into the Chinese language my way and free to one and all

Google translate https://translate.google.com/

Forget the English translation as that is beyond the scope of anything free

But in google translate there is a sound icon that you can use for the Chinese words to be spoken out loud.
For those doing the bastardised simplifed jiantiji of Chinese, you can get google translate to transform that into the proper fantiji with all the radicals shown instead of the x & x & x loved by those lover of bastardised jiantiji. You will find in those radicals the ideas behind the words.

You can get that same sentence, or para, or pages repeated and repeated again and again

The first click on the sound give you the proper chinese reading speed and the 2nd click give you a much slower speed. I am now using that first click.

I got to finish chapter one to 20 of 水滸傳 .

Simultaneously with google translate there will be this


That same material I placed into google translate placed into here as well.

You can use the annotate to get the phonetic sounds. One choice is hanyu pingyin so you can see the phonetics in English words. Another choice is the Zhuyin fuhao (Bopomofo) which give the sound using chinese phonetic symbols.

click on Add spaces between words For printing

and click on for printing as well so that annotated content be printed in separate tab.
and you see another choice coming up as below
Add vocabulary for all words HSK 2 and up HSK 3 and up HSK 4 and up not in HSK none at all Sort by first appearance pronunciation radical frequency

Pick all words so you have the translations for all the words. I have two screens so they on different screens

I chose the Zhuyin fuhao to totally eliminate any form of English when I am reading the chinese characters in time to the spoken Chinese from Google translate.

I started off with 2 laborous sentences by 2 sentences. Hearing that and reading the zhuyinfuhao and then reading that again by the hanyu pingyin as I had not got back my familiarity with zhuyin fuhao.

Then it got to paragraph by paragraph.

Then it got to page by page. Except I could get that repeated as often as I liked.

I cannot recommend short stories. In long stories, sequences will be repeated and important sequences repeated more often to drum into your head and heart the pattern of Chinese thoughts.

水滸傳 is a very beautiful book. Too beautiful I decided for getting into the language, but mind you, I got to chapter 20. The descriptions of mountains and forest sceneries were breath taking after I translate those word by word. With enough repeats, I need not even see those translations. The feats of martial arts were better then those you seen in Hongkong movies as those movies took their scenes from that book.

水滸傳 was also written 600 ears ago. What was bai hwa wen (simple chinese) to that writer would be considered as wen yen wen (serious classical formal chinese ) in our days

I decided to switch to the Count of Monte Cristo and read that in Chinese. I have read that book in English twice before. I found the Chinese equivalent
基督山恩仇記 or ji du shan en chou ji
or Jesus mountain gratitude revenge memoirs
Google the chinese words to get to your free book. Which I had to change into PDF and finally into doc so I could extract that into the google translate and http://mandarinspot.com/annotate

The chinese of that
was a lot more like the current usage of Chinese. After the initial bit of reading para by para, I got to reading that by 2 to 3 pages at a time. And using the first click of google translate for speed of reading.

After 2 weeks of hearing that read and reading the words in line with the google translate sound and then re reading that with hanyu pinyin and checking words translation, I got into that book via the chinese version and mindset. My recognition of zhuyin fuhao came back to me and I did without the hanyupinyin. Hanyu pinyin introduced an English element that I do try to do without as that distract from the total chinese immersion.

I am now into chapter 48 of ji du shan en chou ji.

In addition to that, from time to time, I download huang tse su or chinese sex stories to amuse myself.
And read Li Bai poems in chinese.
And Chinese songs in chinese such as those on my youtube,

And yes, I read all of Flashman books since I came back in mid Aug. And the 3 books of John Gwynne. And Rothfuss Name of the Wind and Wise men Fears (all strongly recommended by me to you) And a dozen other books probably not your taste

All that in between eating when hungry and drinking when thirsty and fornicating when horny.
Much nicer than those 66 to 72 hours work week

Just remember the Rosetta Stone had about 300 odd words of Egyptian Hierographics and 300 odd words of Greek to give the key to ancient egyptian writings.

With those tens of thousands of chinese words, spoken as sounds and written out you should be able to get into the chinese language into your heart and and think chinese and not have to do bloody translation of chinese into english in your head. Because when you get into the chinese and know the chinese, then why the **** do you need to translate that in you bloody head?

Do not be like those Taiwanese (or Japanese or Koreans ) after learning English all through schools and Uni and yet unable to string 2 coherent sentences in English. All because in their heads and hearts, they still learning English and never got to using English.

So this is my road for you to get into Chinese, and not to learn $%@#$%@* Chinese. There are enough threads here and august guidance for you to learn and learn Chinese. How much good that do for you I wonder. Not that what I wrote do you any good other then promises of hard work from your part (heck! it was not easy for me either at the beginning).

Idiotic Taoist all ready to read 鹿鼎記 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Deer_and_the_Cauldron once I finished with Count of Monte Cristo - and when I then finished Romance of the 3 Kingdoms , I might then think I will do TTC
Edited October 29, 2015 by shanlung

Letter 2

Posted October 30, 2015 (edited)
Here is one of the most famous and much loved singer Teng Lee Jin also known as Teresa Teng 鄧麗君.
She was the only one able, welcomed , honored and loved on both sides of the Taiwan Straits even at height of saber rattling.

Japanese and Koreans hated each other with vengence and only thing they have in common is love for Teng Li Jun and her songs.

Here is one such collection of songs sang by her. With English translation to give you a flavour of Chinese and Chinese thoughts. Songs can be incredibly sad and poignant to being amusing and spectrums in between.

She died way before her time during one of her charity performances in Thailand. The entire Asian world ground to a halt. Taiwan, China, Japan, Korea, and the diaspora of Oversea Chinese could not work and bring themselves to work during that time of mourning.

She is buried in North Taiwan


I particularly love the first song AnPing Memories. I heard that song a few times before and never paid attention to the words accepting that as a beautiful song. Then in late August or so this year, I happened to glance at the translation, and I was revetted by the words. Another of the catalyst to make me girded my loins and get back into Chinese and deeper into Chinese then I did before.

I have to say now that I am better in Chinese that the translation done in English will be given B- by me. I give them A+ for their dedication and effort in translating.

Chinese must be thought in Chinese. No translation can match the original message or song in Chinese.

I started on the saga into Chinese on about 15 September. You bums know that I religiously make my obeisance to Procrastinatia and a believer in not doing today what can be done tomorrow.

So listen, read the words , and just enjoy those songs.

That lovely song of AnPing memories with English alongside gone and taken down.
This is another of Teresa Teng wonderful song , with english translation

Taoistic Idiot and part timer DJ

Letter 3


October 31, 2015 (edited)

Above was only just one of the catalysts. Being a worshipper of Procrastanatia, I required more than just one catalyst in addition to my desire to get back into Chinese.

In my sojourns in Amsterdam in between the 66-72 hours work week, I picked up books by Guy Gavriel Kay, namely Under Heaven and River of Stars.
He made much use of Li Bai, one of those immortal poet of that time. Guy obviously could not read Chinese and used translations by others of that period. Good as his books were, I knew those must be watered down through translations and versions of translations and then finally through Guy's fantasy telling.

I had known of Li Bai via my wonderful tutors when I was in Taipei and had from them a flavour Guy could never have gotten or even known about.

One of them got me to like this from Li Bai very much
Japan & ME //Chuáng qián míng yuè guāng // Li Bai the GGLB

extract from above

Li Bai had another poem which is my personal favourite. With my own translation and intepretation which I hope will not make his bones roll over wherever they lay.

靜夜思 Jìng yè sī

床前明月光, Chuáng qián míng yuè guāng,
疑是地上霜。 Yí shì dì shàng shuāng.
舉頭望明月, Jǔ tóu wàng míng yuè,
低頭思故鄉。 Dī tóu sī gùxiāng.

Reflections on a quiet night.

In front of the bed the full moon shone bright,
scattering on the floor like autumn hoarfrost with her light.
Lifting my head I gazed at the full moon,
Lowering my head, nostalgic thoughts flowed of family and times of my ancestral village.

Since that was written for birdie friends and with little boys and girls, I refrained from adding what was told to me by another different tutor.

She told me Li Bai loved fornicating as much as he loved wine and sword fighting. Li Bai would **** about anything and everything, and his poems had double meanings such as the one above.

He was on a bed with this beautiful lady and in the moonlight, her body was fair and white like autumn frost on the ground.
He raised his head and eyes on her breasts, full and round like the moon.
He lowered his head and eyes on her yoni , the ancestral place where man came from.

I love this poem even more with the revelations from my wonderful tutor ( a bit more matured than the earlier one)

Then we got distracted and lessons went to other directions.

But reading of Guy's books (that I could only complete back away from the 66-72 hours work week) made me determined to get myself into Chinese and do away without those intepreters that I was forced to rely on.

In Amsterdam I came across Flashman that I bought at a 2nd hand book stand.


extract from above

Flashman is a large man, six feet two inches (1.88 m) tall and close to 13 stone (about 180 pounds or 82 kg). In Flashman and the Tiger, he mentions that one of his grandchildren has black hair and eyes, resembling him in his younger years. His dark colouring frequently enabled him to pass (in disguise) for a Pashtun. He claims only three natural talents: horsemanship, facility with foreign languages, and fornication. He becomes an expert cricket-bowler, but only through hard effort (he needed sporting credit at Rugby School, and feared to play rugby football). He can also display a winning personality when he wants to, and is very skilled at flattering those more important than himself without appearing servile.
As he admits in the Papers, Flashman is a coward, who will flee from danger if there was any way to do so, and has on some occasions collapsed in funk. He has one great advantage in concealing this weakness: when he is frightened, his face turns red, rather than white, so that observers think he is excited, enraged, or exuberant—as a hero ought to be.
After his expulsion from Rugby School for drunkenness, the young Flashman looks for an easy life. He has his wealthy father buy him an officer's commission in the fashionable 11th Regiment of Light Dragoons. The 11th, commanded by Lord Cardigan, later involved in the Charge of the Light Brigade, has just returned from India and are not likely to be posted abroad soon. Flashman throws himself into the social life that the 11th offered and becomes a leading light of Canterbury society. In 1840 the regiment is converted to Hussars with an elegant blue and crimson uniform, which assists Flashman in attracting female attention for the remainder of his military career.[3]
A duel with another officer over a French courtesan leads to his being temporarily stationed in Paisley, Scotland. There he meets and deflowers Elspeth Morrison, daughter of a wealthy textile manufacturer, whom he has to marry in a "shotgun wedding" under threat of a horsewhipping by her uncle. But marriage to the daughter of a mere businessman forces his transferral from the snobbish 11th Hussars. He is sent to India to make a career in the army of the East India Company. Unfortunately, his language talent and his habit of flattery bring him to the attention of the Governor-General. The Governor does him the (very much unwanted) favour of assigning him as aide to General Elphinstone in Afghanistan. Flashman survives the ensuing debacle by a mixture of sheer luck and unstinting cowardice. He becomes an unwitting hero: the defender of Piper's Fort, where he is the only surviving white man, and is found by the relieving troops clutching the flag and surrounded by enemy dead. Of course, Flashman had arrived at the Fort by accident, collapsed in terror rather than fighting, been forced to stand and show fight by his subordinate, and is 'rumbled' for a complete coward. He had been trying to surrender the colours, not defend them. Happily for him, all inconvenient witnesses had been killed.
This incident sets the tone for Flashman's life. Over the following 60 years or so, he is involved in many of the major military conflicts of the 19th century — always in spite of his best efforts to evade his duty. He is often selected for especially dangerous jobs because of his heroic reputation. He meets many famous people, and survives some of the worst military disasters (the First Anglo-Afghan War, Charge of the Light Brigade, the Siege of Cawnpore, Battle of the Little Bighorn, Battle of Isandlwana), always coming out with more heroic laurels. The date of his last adventures seems to have been around 1900. He dies in 1915.
Despite his admitted cowardice, Flashman is a dab hand at fighting when he has to. Though he dodges danger as much as he can, and runs away when no one is watching, after the Piper's Fort incident, he usually controls his fear and often performs bravely. Almost every book contains one or more incidents where Flashman has to fight or perform some other daring action, and he holds up long enough to complete it. For instance, he is ordered to accompany the Light Brigade on its famous charge and rides all the way to the Russian guns. However, most of these acts of 'bravery' are performed only when he has absolutely no choice and to do anything else would result in his being exposed as a coward and losing his respected status in society, or being shot for desertion. When he can act like a coward with impunity, he invariably does.
Flashman surrenders to fear in front of witnesses only a few times, and is never caught out again. During the siege of Piper's Fort, in the first novel, Flashman cowers weeping in his bed at the start of the final assault; the only witness to this dies before relief comes. He breaks down while accompanying Rajah Brooke during a battle with pirates, but the noise drowns out his blubbering, and he recovers enough to command a storming party of sailors (placing himself right in the middle of the party, to avoid stray bullets). After the Charge of the Light Brigade, he flees in panic from the fighting in the battery—but mistakenly charges into an entire Russian regiment, adding to his heroic image.

Since those books were published long time ago, my second foray into Amsterdam got me hunting the rest of his books futilely. Only on return to Singapore, and its well stocked public libraries did I managed to get and read the rest of the Flashman books.

I gave the first book to my son as I thought he would love that. How a craven coward ended up with the Victoria Cross. My son liked that book. He told me he read books like that based on anti-hero. I was stunned as all books I read , until Flashman , were based on heros or heroic actions.

My son told me of 鹿鼎記 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Deer_and_the_Cauldron
I checked and found it was as my son said, on a coward and anti hero in China. Written in 1969 and before the Flashman. The original anti hero story


The story centres on a witty, sly, illiterate and lazy protagonist, Wei Xiaobao, who was born to a prostitute from a brothel in Yangzhou in the early Qing dynasty. The teenage scamp makes his way from Yangzhou to the capital, Beijing, through a series of adventures. In Beijing, he is kidnapped and taken to the imperial palace, where he impersonates a eunuch. While in the palace, Wei Xiaobao bumbles his way into a fateful encounter with the young Kangxi Emperor, the ruler of the Qing Empire, and develops an unlikely friendship with him.
One day, Wei Xiaobao is captured by some martial artists and taken out of the palace. He meets Chen Jinnan, the leader of the Heaven and Earth Society, a secret society aiming to overthrow the Qing regime, and becomes Chen's apprentice. He also becomes one of the society's branch leaders and agrees to serve as their spy in the palace. Later, he is taken captive by another group of fighters, who bring him to Mystic Dragon Island, where the sinister Mystic Dragon Cult is based. Unexpectedly, he becomes the cult's White Dragon Marshal by flattering its leader, Hong Antong.
Wei Xiaobao makes a number of seemingly impossible achievements through sheer luck, cunning, and the use of unglamorous means such as cheating and deceiving. First, he assists the Kangxi Emperor in ousting the autocratic regent, Oboi, from power. Second, he discovers the whereabouts of the Shunzhi Emperor, who is presumed dead, saves him from danger, and helps him reunite with his son, the Kangxi Emperor. Third, he eliminates the Mystic Dragon Cult by stirring up internal conflict, which leads to the cult's self-destruction. Fourth, he weakens the revolt staged by Wu Sangui by bribing Wu's allies to withdraw, thereby allowing Qing imperial forces to crush the rebels easily. Finally, he leads a campaign against the Russian Empire and helps the Qing Empire reach a border treaty with its northern neighbour. Earlier on, he met the Russian regent, Sophia Alekseyevna, and helped her consolidate control over the Russian Empire. In the process of accomplishing these tasks, he also recommended talents to join the Qing imperial service, one of whom is Shi Lang, the admiral who led the successful naval campaign against the Kingdom of Tungning in Taiwan.
Throughout the story, Wei Xiaobao exhibits devout loyalty to both the Kangxi Emperor and his personal friends in the anti-Qing forces. He instinctively shields the emperor with his body from assassins twice and saves the emperor's life. He also plays an important role in assisting the Kangxi Emperor in consolidating power. On the other hand, he helps anti-Qing forces escape from danger on numerous occasions by distracting imperial forces. He undermines the attempts by the society on the emperor's life and uses his status in the imperial court to prevent the society from being destroyed by the Qing government. For his achievements, he is rewarded with immense wealth and titles of nobility. The highest position he reached is "Duke of Lu Ding" (lit. "Duke of Mount Deer"), which is used as an alternative English title for the novel. He earns the respect of the anti-Qing factions for eliminating wicked officials and defending the Qing Empire from foreign invasion. On top of his achievements, he also encounters seven attractive women on separate occasions, flirts and toys with them, and eventually marries all seven of them.
Wei Xiaobao's conflicting loyalties ultimately reach a disastrous conclusion. The Kangxi Emperor discovers his relationship with the Heaven and Earth Society, and forces him to choose to either remain loyal to the Qing Empire or become an enemy of the state. Wei Xiaobao faces a dilemma: If he chooses to follow the emperor's orders, he will have to betray his friends from the Heaven and Earth Society and help the emperor destroy the society; if he refuses, he faces the possibility of death and the extermination of his family. He chooses not to side with either the emperor or the society, and goes into exile. However, the Kangxi Emperor still regards him as a close friend and loyal subject so he pardons him and allows him to return to the palace later. Towards the end of the novel, the emperor tries to force Wei Xiaobao to help him eliminate the Heaven and Earth Society again. On the other hand, Wei Xiaobao faces an even bigger problem with the society. As Chen Jinnan had died recently, the society's members look up to Wei Xiaobao and want him to be their new leader.

That was the 3rd and final catalyst for me to get into Chinese.
I just had to read that book in Chinese.
I downloaded 鹿鼎記 . I then found out about google translate and its reading out loud. I found out about http://mandarinspot.com/annotate

Sentence by sentence, I forced myself and got into the first chapter. It was too difficult for me so I set that aside. Deciding then to use Water Margin 水滸傳 to be that passport into Chinese since I knew that story having read that twice.

As said by me,

水滸傳 is a very beautiful book. Too beautiful I decided for getting into the language, but mind you, I got to chapter 20. The descriptions of mountains and forest sceneries were breath taking after I translate those word by word. With enough repeats, I need not even see those translations. The feats of martial arts were better then those you seen in Hongkong movies as those movies took their scenes from that book.

水滸傳 was also written 600 ears ago. What was bai hwa wen (simple chinese) to that writer would be considered as wen yen wen (serious classical formal chinese ) in our days

I decided to switch to the Count of Monte Cristo and read that in Chinese. I have read that book in English twice before. I found the Chinese equivalent
基督山恩仇記 or ji du shan en chou ji
or Jesus mountain gratitude revenge memoirs
Google the chinese words to get to your free book. Which I had to change into PDF and finally into doc so I could extract that into the google translate and http://mandarinspot.com/annotate

The chinese of that
was a lot more like the current usage of Chinese. After the initial bit of reading para by para, I got to reading that by 2 to 3 pages at a time. And using the first click of google translate for speed of reading.

At point of first letter, I was at chapter 48 of 基督山恩仇記

Right now, I am in the middle of chapter 54.

Idiotic Taoist all ready to read 鹿鼎記 https://en.wikipedia...nd_the_Cauldron once I finished with Count of Monte Cristo - and when I then finished Romance of the 3 Kingdoms , I might then think I will do TTC
Edited October 31, 2015 by shanlung

Letter 4 &5 &6

  • shanlung
Posted November 2, 2015
I have to confess I am a dismal failure from at least 3 of those formal Chinese language classes.
The first was a Chinese language class that I signed up when first in University in early 70s. Well equiped with tapes and tape recorders where Chinese was taught by experts and we all went through tonal drills to be played back and listened to. After a couple of months of religiously doing that and realizing I could not utter half a sentence in Chinese of my own making, I gave up.

Then when I was first in Taiwan , I went again into another lot of those Chinese classes conducted by a University at night with tonal drills and finding that I could not utter half a sentence in Chinese and unable to order a meal on my own, other than that neu rou mein, I gave up. I was on the verge of leaving Taiwan.

One night I was walking back to my lonely apartment and looking at little chinese kids there 2 to 3 years old playing and chatting away and wondering how they could happily communicate when obviously they had not that magical 2000 odd words under their belt like what I was told by those classes to allow me to communicate. I thought about Chinese toddlers who could speak and enjoyed Chinese a lot more than me.

There and then I thought why not I be like a Chinese toddler speaking only a few words of Chinese?

I gave up my Chinese night classes there and then. Got my Chinese colleagues to write in Chinese for me request to bookshop that I needed very simple Chinese books for 1 to 2 years old. I went to neighbourhood bookstore with that written request (as I could not speak a quarter sentence in Chinese) and walked away with books for toddlers. From the colorful pictures, I gotten Red Riding Hood, 3 little pigs etc etc with simple chinese words and bopomofo notations to help parents teach little kids. Took me 2 days to digest that as I obviously knew those kiddy stories. Then I went back again with written note from my colleagues to get 2-3 years old books. Followed by another note for 3-4 year old books a week later.

I had deliberately stayed in local neighbourhood and not in expat areas as other expats had urged me to do. I had to interact with locals, all who could not and would not speak English. Anything I needed to buy from mom and pop shops meant I had to say that, a few times. Aided by them all and their customers who gave me standing ovations when I got it. It was embarrassing at first. The I got to realised they all were trying to help me and all that was done in that spirit. And I got into it.

I went back to that bookshop with a colleague (I had not gotten my harem of Chinese tutors yet) for 4-5 year old books in Chinese. The shop owner was telling me (via that colleague) that my son very precocious able to advance through some many books in couple of weeks. I smiled and nodded , too embarrassed to say I was the reader.

I found I could articulate a couple of sentences in Chinese by being a kid and using words I know and able to string them in coherent way to express the thoughts in my heart without having to translate the words in my head. And I was able to understand directly what was said to me in Chinese. When Chinese speakers realised my level was low and if they talked to me like a little kid and repeated a couple of times, I could understand them.

Like a kid, I used and used very simple chinese words and weaved them together. I probably understood about 6-700 hundred of spoken Chinese words and could use 2-300 chinese words.

Armed by those bits of Chinese I picked up from the shops and road sides, I was able to assemble a harem of pretty chinese tutors happy to take me to the next level.

At this point now (chapter 62 of 基督山恩仇記 ) , I must have gotten past at least 400,000 chinese characters, spoken to me and me following the chinese characters.

I gotten to like the story and too lazy to check every word I did not know , and able to guess those meanings in context of the other chinese words that I knew.

I mentioned before Chinese words consisted of radicals which told their meanings. In addition, complex ideas consisted of groups of Chinese words, many of them simple words, and collectively telling their meanings.

I think those saying you must know 5000 words to understand Chinese were and are telling you a bunch of hogwash and bullshit. 3 year old kids might not even have 200 words under their belts and they can laugh and enjoy books for 2-3 years old. Just like I did when I started way back in 1990 when I was first in Taiwan.

Idiotic Taoist all ready to read 鹿鼎記 https://en.wikipedia...nd_the_Cauldron once I finished with Count of Monte Cristo - and when I then finished Romance of the 3 Kingdoms , I might then think I will do TTC

  • 道可道非常道

  • shanlung
Posted November 4, 2015 (edited)
I am now at chapter 74 of 基督山恩仇記 or ji du shan en chou ji. I said I read this book in English twice before. The first time in early 70s. The second time was in late 80s. So much of what I read in English existed vaguely in mist of my memories. In this reading in Chinese, I am enjoying it in details and richness almost akin to reading it for the first time. Or rather, in hearing it spoken in Chinese via Google translate and myself following the fantiji chinese words in print via

In next letter I will show you the usefulness of using http://mandarinspot.com/annotate.

I have seen folks asking to read newspaper in Chinese. I can only say do not ever do that if you are not good with Chinese, or even if you are very good (as expat) in Chinese if ever you want to get into the Chinese language and thoughts.

You have rode in taxis before. Where the taxi drivers almost always felt they are F1 drivers overlooked by others and therefore they will drive taxis in style of F1 drivers.

Writers and editors of Chinese Newspaper felt that they are overlooked denizens of Hanlinyuan 翰林院 "Hanlin Academy" .

They felt compelled to write in WenYenWen when simple sentences in Chinese will do just like taxi drivers compelled to drive like F1 racers.

Further more, newspaper articles are short and require you to know almost every word those aspiring Hanlinyanist dug out from obscure chinese dictionaries.

Getting into Chinese via Chinese newspaper is akin to wanking yourself with a handful of coarse grit and sand versus getting into Chinese via a good long novel (can even be Chinese sex stories) is akin to wanking yourself with Ponds cold cream.

You need to make this journey as enjoyable as you can. This will be a long journey. I reckon you might take 3 months. Which will be better than that 3 years and more that almost all other expats assured that you will take, while wanking yourself with wet coarse grit

I can hardly think people can do things painful to them, useless as tits on a man, and continue to final conclusion of getting into Chinese
An American's humorous perspective about Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard.

In long stories such as 基督山恩仇記 or ji du shan en chou ji, love was spelled in in different exquisite ways repeated and repeated. Or vengence or how vengence to be carried out spelled out in details from different angles thereby ensuring you understand the different nuances of love and vengence on how 基督山 伯爵 Jidushan bo jue (count of Monte Cristo) carried that out.

Words and paragraphs repeated with different variations to enable you to see the height of their love or vengence taken and executed. And thereby allowing you to see the same group of chinese words used in different ways in ways that you enjoy and never forget without the efforts of commiting that into memory.
If you want to commit all that into memory, then go and re-read in chinese 2 or 3 or more times.
As a reflection of how far I had gone on this road, I wrote a note way way back in 1990s when I first started in Taiwan and you can see how abysmal my chinese was. Much of what I wrote lost when that demonic entity fingered my hard drive
Fragments of earlier memories of Taiwan

Extracted From http://shanlung.com/taroko90dec.htm

Written in almost real time there and then.

29 Dec 90

I have planned to spend the New Year long weekend at Hohuan
Shan. I thought I would walk up from Tayuling and then down to
Wushu returning to Taipei. As the bus from Hualien to Tayuling
will leave only at 730am, it did not really matter if I leave
Taipei late on Saturday.

That timing was fateful, as was the can of Pepsi I bought.

I took the 11.43pm train from Taipei to Hualien. I bought some
snacks and a Pepsi from the Station. Finished the snack and
fell asleep on the train.

30 Dec 90

They woke me up at Hualien. That can was still unopened.
Taking that with me, I slung on the backpack and walked out of
the station. Pulled the tab and strode on into the cold morning
air of Hualien City. I wanted to go to the nearby park to watch
the dawn breaking over the city.

Walking past the bus stop, I thought it would be more
comfortable to sit there and finished the Pepsi first. There
were some Taiwanese there sleeping and sitting at the bench when
I made my way to a seat.

A conversation started up with three guys there. They had
backpacks all over, and I think people with backpacks always
find others with backpacks to be fascinating to each other.
While we may have different dreams and routes, we share the same
urge to explore and find out a bit more of our world. That
curiosity extends to people as well. Besides, talking about
routes help to pool information for any later plans.

They knew I was not a local from the way I talked. They were
intrigued by the way I wandered around by myself here in
Taiwan.Told them also of the way I checked out other parts of
the world by myself.

The talk switched to philosophy and political world. I guessed
that failed when they brought in one more member of their group
as interpreter. She told them I was talking on 'Eastern Europe'
and not 'Eastern neu-rou' and that have nothing to do with
neu-rou mein or neu-rou chang (this is directly translated to
'beef place', a place where pretty girls will sing two songs
each, the first song will be sang in beautiful elegant outfits,
and the second song with just their shoes and a smile).

The disparity of what I was saying and what they thought they
were comprehending was so vast. That knowledge of the standard
of Chinese I commanded depressed me. I wondered that perhaps my
earlier conversation with them on philosophical matters must
also have taken on warped undertones as well. I reckoned if I
try to set that right, even greater damages may result. I gave
a big sigh deep inside my mind.

Her name is Amanda and she has a friend Chin-hua with her( I
tend to pay more attention and remember girls' names better).
It was getting about 5am, I suggested we could perhaps walk on
to the bus station about 1/2 hour away.

They woke up the rest of the group, a guy with his newly wed
wife, her sister and boyfriend, and a girl with a most
enchanting voice like notes tinkling from wind-chimes. A
pretty girl with delicate Chinese features and who smiled from
her heart.

I gathered they were going to walk on an old road at the Taroka
Gorge though I was still not clear of the details yet. I
gathered the road was somewhat above the existing road that the
traffic runs. I thought it was going to be a fairly easy walk.
I enjoyed their company, and I thought where I wanted to go can
still be done another time by myself. A trip on their route may
not be possible on my own. They readily accepted me when I
asked to join them.

Shortly after breakfast, we left on the local bus to Taroka
Gorge. It was driven by a very friendly man who became even
friendlier and talkative when he heard from them where they
intended to go.

We dropped at the bridge shortly after a dam. We clambered 20'
down rocks,a little bit different from the 'old road' I expected
to 'walk' on. I thought that's only the start, and that it
should get easier later on. Never was I more wrong. We crossed
the bridge to the other side of the Gorge. We then climbed up
more boulders, pushed through some under growth, and down onto
the river bank. I cracked my right knee on the first jump, just
what I need to add to my left ankle, still wobbly after the
wrench it received 6 weeks back. Grit my teeth , told them no
problem and continued. The pain eased after a while.

I knew I dressed wrongly, having thermal undershirt on with
thick T shirt and padded shirt. Also had on my old pair of
jeans meant for walking. That was with me for over 15 years and
we have been to many treks together. It was too tight to allow
me to bend my legs freely to climb up or down. I thought I was
going for a walk in the cold air of Tayuling to Hohuanshan in
the first place. Stripped off my shirt as I was over heating in
the climbing up and down of the boulders along the bank. It was
fun still.

The boulders appeared so deceptively small when seen from the
roadside. They were the size of big buses and cars we have to
climb over. At one place, we had to take off our shoes and
socks to wade in the swift cold water of the river. The
smoothness of the boulders,despite their size, gave an idea of
the force of the river at its peak flow. Powerful as the river
was, the driftwood packed twenty feet above the water line
showed what it could really do. Those boulders must have been
washed along like pebbles. The banks were molded out of granite
and marble. History of powerful events of long time past where
recorded in the striations. They were further twisted and fused
by the forces of the tectonic plates grinding and heating them.
Pages of the history of the world written in a way befitting to

To add to the fun, at one point, some yellowish metallic
particles were found in the sand. One of the guy collected a
fair bit of that. I thought they were probably mica. However,
when examined through a magnifying glass, they appeared to be
granular and not flaky. I did not see any quartz normally
associated with gold, should that really have been gold. If I
had, I would have collected some myself. I thought also if all
those shining stuff have been gold, people would have been
mining and panning for those stuff as well.

We climbed up and down, transfering backpacks. I felt
embarrased at the weight of those three leaders' pack. They
must have packed a lot of gear. My own pack was light,
consisting mainly of warm clothing. I noticed those three were
normally in front actively seeking out the route. I wondered
why are we looking up at people at the road above us when we
should be looking down on them far below as briefed earlier.

They did their best, but it was not passable. We turned back
the same way we came by to the bridge. We rested at the
northern tunnel which seemed to be abandoned half constructed.
It had chinese words saying it was connected with hydroelectic
power. Still, looking at the construction, it contained certain
characteristics and seemed to be designed for military uses. I
have build and seen enough of such features. They pulled from
the packs stoves, pots and pans and cooked up a meal of instant
mee. Very tasty too. Also showed a little bit why the packs
were heavy.

After a short rest, we carried on by the main road. Looking
back across where we tried to travel, we could see why it took
us two hours to get to a point where the main road on the other
side took us 20 minutes. At the point where we turned back, not
even a mountain goat could get through.

Just before Yen-chi-kou, there is a spidery suspension bridge of
steel wire and bamboo spanning the river 200' below us. The
leader pointed us to go down. By now I expect the unexpected.
I peered over the road edge to see a series of flimsy ladders
going down. It moved with my every step. I thought it to be
dangerous. When I finished with the trip, I would have consider
that to be so ridiculously safe.

The bridge could take us across one at a time. The swaying
could get you queasy but it was fun in its own way. The other
side have broad paths of cobble stones. The way water were
seeping out from the wall, a series of pools of clear running
water were formed like fountain terraces backed against the
cobble paths where they seeped through in turn.

It was a beautiful day with little wisps of clouds and a nice
warm sun. The green trees and bushes marching down the gorge
slope made us linger on a while.

I was fascinated with the tadpoles in the pools. Acid rain and
other pollutants have apparently wiped out a lot of the frogs in
Europe and North America. As amphibians they seem to be most
sensitive to the effects of man. Whether we shrugged off their
departure or we take them as canaries used at mines where their
deaths will give early warnings to miners is up to us. I am
happy to see them around.

As we gathered to move on, I offered to switch the heaviest pack
as I felt guilty. They declined assuring me it is ok with them.
We went up the slope on a little path. Zig and zag up the side.
The trees and undergrowth were thick and cannot be seen through
to a distant. Now and then, yellow trail markers were tied to
indicate the path.

It was tiring and hot. The nice warm sun that felt so nice
earlier seemed to be making its effect even through the cool
leaves. I was glad no one took up my offer to switch packs. 15
minutes took us to another suspension bridge spanning a chasm.
I thought the 'road' would start there as that was a big red
bridge easily seen from the main road.

There was no 'road'. If one look carefully amonge the bushes to
the side after the bridge, a little path can be seen. Seems
like the bridge was build big and painted a nice red so pretty
pictures can be taken of it by tourist in their buses on the
main road.

The uphill climb continued. The mountain slope is a good 65-70
degree. The path twist and turned upwards.

The air must be cool. After all, it is supposed to be winter,
on a mountain slope with air filtered by green leaves. Others
are wearing thick sweaters and moving on smoothly. I only feel
my sweat coming out, flowing down my back. I breath heavily, to
draw in more cool air. I meditate on ice orange juice . I
switched to thinking of wind-swept Artic winter. I imagined the
soaked thermal underwear and T shirt to be evaporating and
cooling me. My legs kept moving. I looked above at the swaying
hips of girls and imgagined how the rest of their bodies would
looked like to distract myself. My body could not transcend to
those thoughts. I poured and poured sweat.

Then the upward climb ended after rounding a group of boulders.
We reached a meadow where we rested. I could only think of
water to drink. After a long draw at the bottle, my mind then
recovered enough to look around.

Before us, stretched a field of waving 'Maung chow' grass in
full flower. The sloping light of the sun backlight the bushy
tops in a soft silvery glow. On a gentle rise just behind the
field, humble dwellings of two families can be seen. Then the
ground rose again into a knoll. Two jagged mountain tops appear
behind them with white scars tracing where parts broke off into
screes dusting lower parts of it. Clouds flow past them playing
a game of hide and seek . Right of the clearing, the forest
grew rising and dipping carpeting the slope in different shades
of green towards the top. Now and then, maple trees with red
leaves made crimsom splashes in that sea of green. Standing on
the boulder, the other side of the gorge loomed upwards. The
main road and traffic could just be made out at the foot far
below. Yes, I could see that we are way above them now.

We walked on to the huts. That place is called Pata-Kang.
There were two families there from the Tai-yah-chu hill tribe.
Their traditions were fast fading. They lived off the land on
sweet potatoes and other crops they grow. The youngest is a
toddler about 3 years old. One of them was said to be near one
hundred years old and looked like it. She have a broad black
band tattooed across her mouth. They allowed us to camp and
presented us with some sweet potatoes.

Three tents were quickly set up. Stoves, pots and pans and a
staggering amount of food poured from the backpacks. That
explained the weight of some of the packs. The girls got
organised and I tried not to get in their way. We ate and ate.

Fruits were Mandarin oranges and tiny hill peaches taken off the
orchard nearby. Flickering flames from a big wax torch lit up
the night while we glutted ourselves. The tattooed lady joined
us producing a bottle of rice wine. I bribed her with
cigarettes to get a share. It tasted so nice in that cool night
air. None of the other guys wanted it. Yu Hwa, the girl with
the tinkling voice liked the aroma and joined us two in enjoying
the wine.

We sat around and talked away in the warm afterglow of a good
meal and our sense of achievement of that day. They still
thought I was a bit unusual in traveling so much on om own.

Then a voice broke in on us.

My jaws dropped along with the others at the sight of this guy
walking nonchalantly into the circle of light with his backpack
and a small torchlight slung over his shoulder asking if he
could join in. It was tough enough during daylight hours to get
up. He came in alone in the middle of the night like he was
strolling to the 7-11 store. When asked how he felt about
coming up alone at night, he said "oh yes, it was a bit scary".

We laughed at his understatement breaking the ice, if any.
Quite a good looking slim guy and charming too. It was
interesting to see Amanda (the interpreter) and her girfriend
Chin-hwa talking to him like probing his suitability as a
boyfriend. I must say that is my guess from the body languages
expressed as they were using their normal chinese too rapid for
me to understand and not the simple one they used with me.

The others soon prepared to go to sleep. I declined their
sincere invitations to join them in the tents. I have been told
by friends I snore and I do not wish to strain the new
friendships I have made.I also do not sleep early. The night
was really too beautiful up there by the mountainside. The moon
was nearly full, lighting up the surrounding with its silvery
beams, almost bright enough to read by. The air had just a
slight nip of chill. The down sleeping bag I was in would be
enough. The canopy of the sky was comforting . It was one of
those rare moments in life where it is good to sleep under the
stars. I took out a candle preparing to read Barry Lopez's
latest book, 'Crossing Open Ground' before I sleep.

Lone Ranger joined me shortly. Found he is better known as
Chen-hung. He lectures in software and 'C' language when he is
not roaming around the mountains on foot or on his mountainbike
normally on his own. He decided too that the night is too
beautiful to sleep in the tent and dragged his sleeping bag out
as well. We talked on for a long time, sharing our experiences
and philosophies, too complex to put into words here. Went to
sleep as we did not want to disturb others too much. I think
we may see a bit of each other after the trip.

31 Dec 90

Woke up from a good sleep I have had. The wind blew up a bit
during the night. I was aware of it in my dreams. Nice to be
wrapped up in the sleeping bag and cocooned by the raw
elements. Felt good to have been near and intimate with Mother

We all packed and prepared to continue on. Chen-hung said his
goodbyes and continued on while we carried on with the
breakfast. We then loaded up with water and went on. The trail
snaked up behind the fruit trees at the back. I got an inkling
from the day before and stripped down to a T shirt and jeans
this time as it was hot work walking up. Got to know better
what we were doing too.

I first thought we were going on some road build in the Ming
dynasty because of the name . It was Mingkuo chu liu nien
(translated roughly to 6 years from the start of the present
rule started by Dr Sun Yat Seng) or 74 years back. It was the
only way through the gorge before the new road was carved out

Now the old road is used mainly by hikers. Not many hikers
here. We did not see anyone else coming or going on this way
unlike the normal 'renshan renhai'(mountains of men and seas of
men) that packed and jammed others places I have been to here in
Taiwan. I shortly understood the reasons why.

The climb started upwards sharply again after the little knoll.
We got into the rythmn . Consisting of weaving our ways up the
forested slope on the path marked out by other groups. Couldn't
see much of the woods for the trees so to speak. Compared to
the later part of the day, the morning climb had no difficult
spots to speak about other than the physical task of taking
yourself and your pack up the slope.

It was tiring work. The heat build up in my body wasn't so bad.
We stopped for welcomed short breaks now and then. We could
then look around and admire the view if there were breaks in the
trees. During the walk up, one have to concentrate on the foot
holds and the surroundings could not be taken in well.

The dynamics of the group was getting clearer to me as well.

The first three guys I meet took us all up. Lee Wen-hwa, the
leader of the group took up the rear. He seemed serious and
wrapped in his thoughts as the trip went on. Lee Chinghai and
Ting Huakuan took the front actively seeking the path markers.
They were more relaxed , possibly less burdened with the
responsibility of the group.

Amanda bubbled along with energy ,quite expressive with her
voice and gestures as to her likes and dislikes. Chinhwa, her
goodnatured friend was more quiet and always seemed happy. Hsu
and Shi kept much with the Lin sisters in their quiet little
group. I concentrated on absorbing as much as I could of the
feeling of this place.

About midday, the steep almost continous upwards climb ended.
We came to an overgrown rough path which could be seen easily
unlike much of the trail before. It turned sharply right
punching through an outcrop of the moutain. It was a short
lenght of tunnel that we would have camped in last night if not
for the time lost in the morning.

Beautiful place where we had a short break. A maple tree was at
the edge. The sun overhead shining behind it made its red
leaves glow like rubies. The richness of the red against the
light blue skies can only be captured in the mind's eye.

We walked on. I was already deliriously happy with the
exquisite beauty of such a place. Then after another turn in
the trail, the true grandeur and the magnitude of the trail
broke on me.

The trees fell away as the side of the mountain plunged into an
85 degree drop. The tiny path was hacked and blasted as a
little niche in the sharply sloping granite walls of the

The mountains marched motionlessly on to the horizon. Down,
down at the bottom of the gorge the river flowed as a tiny
trickle of water. A thin ribbon of black with just barely
discernable box like objects was the road with their tourist
buses. The mountains we were on were accompanied by the
mountains on the other side of the gorge. They seemed alive
infused with a bemused air at us.

Stillness of the Tao and motion without motion. The mind expand
and the body falls away as the consciousness struggled to take
it all in. That subconscious attempt conflict with yet another
part of the mind yearning to stay in the comfort of a smaller
world where the Id is tangibly bigger in comparison.

Like a frog taken out of the well to see the world and finding
how small it actually is against that scale, then struggling to
get back in preferring the more comforting illusion the whole
world is in the well.

Tiny bushes, flowers and ferns clung on to life even on the bare
granite walls and the path we were on. I walked in small
measured steps half in reverence for that place and to savour
the feeling in the air.

Also, perched on that 2 feet wide path suspended 2000 feet above
the ground below by an almost vertical granite wall doesn't make
you want to take very wide steps. Helped also by the granite
chippings which skid a bit now and then. And thinking of the
earthquake which struck Hualien with a force of 6 on Richter
scale only a weekback. And that 600 over earthquakes struck
Taiwan every year. I was happy no strong winds were blowing to
add in the fun. I recalled a walk on a similar path a few years
back after Jomosom in Himalayas where I faced winds gusting
between force 2 to 5.

That was a very long 400 meters stretch. When then path turned
around the shoulder, I was relieved to be back in a more
sheltered stretch . The slope wasn't vertical allowing soil to
support trees growing there. Nice for this frog to be back in a
well. Then, the path twisted out again. With the road far far
below , and we were walking on the ledge once more.

Earthquakes did not hit us then. But over 67 years, it hit the
trail many times. It is a measure of how well it was build by
those brave people way back then that the trail remained intact
most of the way. It is only in a few places where the mountain
cracked and tumbled down, taking the trail with it leaving empty

At those places, the 2 feet wide track I thought to be scary
looked so safe and comforting to be on when you crossed the
gaps. They span them with little pieces of wood tied up with
thin wires. I looked at my lifeline etched in my palm to reassure
myself many times that day. I became very conscious of the 105
kilo I packed into a pair of shoes.

At times, we have to make our way down across debris of granite
and marble boulders and clawed our way back up again. Or up
over the break and down again to the path. At places, thin
steel cables were in place to assist. If your footing gave way,
those cables would slice into your palms. Movements have to be
made very slow with fingers feeling for every fissure and feet
placed very carefully. Had to expand the consciousness to
heighten the awareness of the environment and every movement
made with slow deliberation. At lips of overhangs, the path was
the dust which gathered on the tangled roots of grass. They
gave slightly with every step.

In addition to those plastic strips of trail markers, we looked
for 'lohans' or little rocks piled up to show the way. The knee
hurt a bit especially on the downhill parts across the debris.
It would be a bad place to have further injuries. The jeans I
wore as I thought I would be walking did were difficult to
climb with. I should have just changed them but never thought
of it then. Stiff-legged myself down by the seat of the pants
over rocks the size of small cars and inched up again.

Those three guys have been incredible in getting us all across.
At bad places, they got over and ferried the backpacks to the
other side. I found it tough enough without the packs and they
crossed with that on. Of the three, Ting was the mountain goat.
Small size but really tough guy. My heart dropped to see him
move at some places. He have an incredible eye for ledges and
footholds which do not exist till you see him like walking on

People seating in cushioned comfort in buses and wooing and
wowing at the river a few hundred feet below them and probably
thinking that was all to it at Taroka gorge could not imagine
the drama played 2000 feet above them. They may, but I wasn't
looking at them.

At one part, the pieces of wood I was worried about have been
longed for. One strand of wire hung down from the other side.
An earthquake took out our side leaving a gap of about 15 feet.
They got the packs over. Positioned themselves to pass the
girls across. I have to say, the girls were courageous. Anyone
panicking will not panick for long.

I crossed last. I spend the time in re studying the foot and
hand holds, replaying that over in my mind a few times to make
sure my movements would be smooth. I had to depend on myself as
I do not want to take the chance of pulling anyone.. Taking
faith in that only the good die young, I moved through like a
wraith in a dream.

That was a very very long two seconds in my life.

Anyone of those crossings will be enough to flavour the trip.
Just like a little bit of chilli will be nice with food, but a
lot of it really spice it up to the stage that the whole mouth
becomes numb.

It was like that on that trail. What would have been dangerous
were became routinely expected. The already tremendous
experience from the view transcended further into one where we
walked with our souls.

We have been lucky. The weather was fine. If it have had
rained, some of those crossings would not be passable.

We ran short of water. I sweated a lot and the dehydration was
getting in on me. We have been moving with very little stops
since morning when we set out. No lunch either except for the
beef jerky and chocolates and caramel sweets I had with me that
we shared. We wanted to get to a place with water for the
night. Exhaustion was setting in as well. In the late
afternoon, every stop would have me out completely in a
dreamless sleep, sometimes not even taking off the backpack.

Night came. We carried on a while with torchlight. The
concentration required to walk on safely cannot be sustained
with the fatigue and using torchlight. Those three must have
came to the same conclusion. They called a halt where the path
broaden a bit. I dimly recalled pulling out the sleeping bag,
changing out of my sodden clothings and sleeping immediately.

Woke at 11pm with most of the fatigue gone. Found the three
have courageously gone on to try to get water. The rest of us
were resting across the path shrouded with trees on both sides.

So many times I woked up on New year day with hangover vowing I
will spend a 'dry' New years eve.

I got to do it this time, the last day of this decade. I
thought of my friends who would be drinking away wondering where
they are and the cheers they would be exchanging. It would be a
New year eve I will always remember.

Tried to bring comfort to the girls assuring that those three
would be safe as time went on and they did not return. I felt
they must have been tired also and would be back in the morning.
Spoke to Shi taking turns with him to keep watch. Some
moonlight filtered in through the trees allowing a bit of
visibility. It would be comforting place, but the absence of
those three gave me a deep disquiet and troubled all of us.

1 Jan 1991

Light broke. I decided to stay in the trackpants I used for
sleeping. I knew I could not take the girls across the way
others did. In case they did not get back, I have to assume the
worse and go down myself to get help from other people. I threw
the jeans down the slope among the trees and bushes. It will be
a fitting rest for it from the trips we shared together. It
also lightened my load. If necessary, I might abandon the
backpack as well.

The others wanted to leave that place. I told them those three
would have started at day break. It may take 1 1/2 hours. That
place we were at have been the best place to rest since the
whole afternoon before. We should wait for them there. If they
did not get back by 730am, I would go down while they stayed.

I felt good when at about 7am, we heard a whistle. Then their
shouts from across a valley. I never wanted to be a hero.
Heros are good guys and they normally die young. Especially
since by doing so, it would have meant that those three have met
with accidents. They got back with the water 20 minutes later.
They got down allright. Lost their way getting back. They were
tired and rested till daybreak before getting back.

That water was important. We cooked breakfast and drank to our
hearts' content. Giving us the strenght to continue on. We
still had to make a few more dangerous crossings. I would have
hate to do it by myself even in the morning without the food and
drink. It would be very dangerous when done at night. Only
they could have done it. It exceeded by far what the other guy
have done the night before. After that, it was all downhill.
We took all together about 3 hours to get to the spring water at
the bottom of a valley strewn with huge marble boulders the
size of houses.

From then it was easy. We made our way to the main road. Got
out near a bridge. I forgot the name, but on the other side of
the bridge is a gigantic boulder with a little pavilion build on
top. Thumb down a lorry which gave us a lift to Tienchi a few
kilometers down the road. While forest and wilderness are nice,
I must say so is civilization where there are restaurants and
cold drinks. Interesting coincidence was the bus driver taking
us back to Hualien was the same stout friendly driver who took
us there originally. Found he was called Mr Yen. He detoured
the bus to drop us at the railway station.

I have to say it was a real good trip. I do not know if I get
such experiences again. But one thing for sure, I will find

So now you got to know how I got to know ChengHung. And from him other Taiwanese friends.
I felt compelled to give them what I could give.

The most important part (in addition to friendship), was to drag as many of them kicking and screaming into the English world.

As said, after they studied for years every year in school and every year in University, they could not speak or write two coherent sentences in English.

But get it straight, they were so goddamn smart in English that I could even feel embarrased. They knew more grammars in English, present particibles, active particibles, future indefinate, blah bal blah then I knew ever existed. They knew english words of more syllables that I could not even recalled the first syllable by time they got to the last syllable.

But they could not speak or write two fucking coherent sentences in English unless they recite it from a book or from their incredible memory.

There were at least 4 males that graduated from my course.

Much like my telling you all here. You have to drop English totally when you are in Chinese, and for them to totally drop Chinese when they are in English.

I explained to them that perhaps they needed to use mental translation of English into Chinese and then Chinese into English at the early stage. Using analogy of you having broken your leg and needing a crutch to walk on initially. But once your leg healed, using that crutch to walk meant you cannot ever walk or think of running.

Furthermore to translate in the head, meant that word already known. And if they know the word why the **** do they need to do mental translation? In English time with me, I watched their eyes. The moment the eyes rolled up, they would be doing mental translation which earned them a yell and scream from me and smiles from them in wonder how I knew they were doing mental translations.

I got them books tuned to their interest. For Chenhung it was a book on mountain climbing in English. For another it was a book on collected stories of Sherlock Holmes. And for another it was on computers. For another, the son of Mr Yu that I gave Tinkerbell to, itwas Peter Pan.
All tuned to what I knew that they love.

I sat with each of them going through the first 20 pages or so. To the point I knew the love for their subject ignited. And most important of all, that they did not even realised that they were actually reading in English as their enjoyment for what they were reading overcomed their ingrained fear of English.

I was never their teacher in English. I was their catalyst to make them use English.

And after that , they all could write and speak 4 or more coherent sentences in English.

The same did not happen to the girls. We all got too distracted and found more interesting and important things to do than to yank them kicking and screaming into English.

Idiotic Taoist all ready to read 鹿鼎記 https://en.wikipedia...nd_the_Cauldron once I finished with Count of Monte Cristo - and when I then finished Romance of the 3 Kingdoms , I might then think I will do TTC

Edited November 4, 2015 by shanlung


  • shanlung
Posted November 6, 2015 (edited)
I like to illustrate some of the differences between the bastardised jian ti zi and the traditional Chinese fan ti zi.

Introduced by Mao Tse Tung to burn out the roots of chinese. Burning Chinese books to preven chinese from knowing their roots were too impractical for him as those words were carved into granite stone steles and walls of too many temples.

So abacadabra! Jian Ti Zi were invented.

Here is one such phrase traditional Fan Ti Zi (斬草不除根,春風吹又生)
bastardised chinese jian ti ji 斩草不除根,春风吹又生)

Noticed how the X & X & X got introduced? And where X not introduced, radicals were ommitted or changed. Many words were so simple that Xs and ommissions not done.

Above in hanyu pinyin (excuse me for using hanyu pin yin, later you will know why I detest using hanyu pinyin )
That phrase meant "Chopping grass and not pulling up by the roots, when spring wind blow, the grass will grow again "

A poetical turn of words. Which meant when the Emperor declared 3 generations and relatives of that deemed criminal will be executed.

Bread is mian bao or in fan ti ji, 麵包

麵 showed the radicals for grass/crop on the left side

This is what it look like in bastardised jian ti zi 面包

No Xs introduced. Root radicals just thrown away into the dustbin

Hair on your head is tou fa 頭髮

Hair on your head in bastardised jian ti ji is 头发

chop chop chop instead of x & x & x

No wonder my Chinese undergrad tutor shook her head and told me she could not read the old chinese words on granite steles whereas I could guess the meanings and the Japanese tourists next to me read those with joy and happiness.

No wonder gwai los and lau wais cursed and complained the difficulties of reading Chinese when they got bastardised jian ti ji taught by people grown up in jian ti ji to teach them.

Like people trying to read Shakespeare in England after they got a course in pidgin Ingleesh in Papua New Guinea.

Of course, your choice to get into Chinese via jian ti ji or Fan ti ji, or even to continue your Chinese journey in jian ti ji. I am sure there will be Japanese tourists or Korean tourists visting the temples and old granite steles happy to explain to your what they are reading. Hope you have your Japanese/Korean dictionary handy.

While China existed many many thousands of years, it was acknowledged that Chin Shi Huang Di, the first emperor of China unified China, unified the weights and measures, and kind of unified the written Chinese into current day fan ti ji Chinese. To try to make people forget the past and not used the past as measure against his rule, he buried 460 scholars alive in addition to burning books that he deemed not suitable and any caught with forbidden books got buried alive.


Mao Zedong, chairman of the People's Republic of China, was reviled for his persecution of intellectuals. On being compared to the First Emperor, Mao responded: "He buried 460 scholars alive; we have buried forty-six thousand scholars alive... You [intellectuals] revile us for being Qin Shi Huangs. You are wrong. We have surpassed Qin Shi Huang a hundredfold. When you berate us for imitating his despotism, we are happy to agree! Your mistake was that you did not say so enough."[91]

While the written Chinese language existed through China and beyond, there were no single spoken Chinese language even though they all used the same written language.

So you have Cantonese used in Canton, Fujianese used in Fujian, Shanghainese used in Shanghai, Sechwanese used in Sechwan , etc etc etc .

The troubles in North Ireland was a kindergarten party compared to China clan wars between different language or clan groups. Taiping uprising was more a clan warfare even if that leader claimed to be the brother of Jesus. Ethnic cleansing in Balkans, deaths of American Civil Wars, Napoleanic wars combined together might match the deaths of China Clans wars in 1700s and 1800s

When Dr Sun Yat Sen won and came into power in 1912, he decided a single acceptable nation wide spoken language must be in place for China. With the kind of back drop as I explained, no way in hell will Cantonese accept Fujianese as the national spoken language. Or Shanghainese accept Shandongnese or Fujianese accept Cantonese. That meeting for common spoken Chinese did not seem to go anywere. Then Beijinese was proposed as the National Language. Since Beijinese was spoken only by a few millions around the area of Bei jin, and that was not the spoken dialect of their rivals, everyone agreed to accept Beijinese as the National spoken language of China or national language or 國 語 .

Which is the reason why the Chinese language you spend so many years and money and handfuls of wet coarse grit on in your language courses can only be understood by your teachers and fellow students and incomprehensible once you move about China.

Vietnam used the same Chinese characters and Vietnamese is actually a dialect of Chinese.
Then the French Imperial Colonizers came. To force Vietnamese from their roots, the French Colonial Powers forced the Romanizing of Vietnamese, slaughtering thousands who tried to resist. As the same sound might be 30 different words, all clearly known by the written form with proper radicals, romanizing of the sound meant you need to use memory to know the context of the sentences before you can guess the meaning of that word or particular sound. Which is why Vietnamese is on the the most difficult language to learn and get into now.

Korea used the Chinese characters, known in Korea as Hanja (just as Japanese Kanji ) . in other words is Han Zi or Chinese Words. Until Korean King Sejong the Great in 15th century invented, or cause to invent, the Korean script based on sounds. Since the King is the closest to Heaven , and Korea is a relatively small area and koreans speak the same way, that was implementable. But if you ever received a name card from a Korean, his or her name will inevitably by written in chinese characters. Those chinese characters will also be seen carved in stone steles and on the walls of their temples. Sorry, Koreans will rather drop dead then to use the bastardised jian ti ji so loved by lauwais trying to get into chinese.

In Japan, in addition to the Kanji, the Japanese used the kana, a phonetically representative of sound. You might like to know as a sound can mean 20 to 30 different words, Interestingly enough, this kana is like the chuyin fuhao (bopomofo) used traditionally by Chinese to teach their kids the sounds of Chinese words. This is discarded when kids are big unlike me.

Until present days.

This bopomofo is the means in which chinese words are entered into hand phones and PCs.
Non of those crap about using keyboards of a thousand keys to frighten people into using jian ti ji.

Where there cannot be any ambiguity such as Japanese contract, that contract will be totally written in kanji, or han zi. And japanese will drop dead first before using jian ti zi.

Mao Tze Tung not satisfied with burying 46,000 scholars alive, he wanted to make sure even the little that jian ti ji represented Chinese be totally destroyed , he wanted to coup de grace Chinese totally .

He got the Hanyu Pinyin developed to be the burial shroud of Chinese language. Hanyu Pinyin was designed to totally replace the written form of Chinese so that jian ti ji will not even be used.

So that all Chinese in China, after they were reverted to state of semi illiteracy with jian ti ji, will be totally illiterate in having to use Hanyu PinYin so no way could they refer to old writings to compare M T T against.

There can be more similarity between German and English in spoken language then between different chinese dialects. The screams against Hanyu pin yin to replace Chinese written characters became such a storm that Mao had to back down. It might be easier to get the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra to play Horst Wessel Lied or to get Americans to accept GOD SAVE THE QUEEN as American National Anthem.

Hanyu Pin Yin lingered on largely and entirely due to lauwais keeping that refrain alive to this day as their crutch into learning of Chinese.

So folks leaning on Hanyu Pin Yin to learn chinese might love that they using what was intended as burial shroud of Chinese language to prance about in.

Which is why I normally used my mental English version of how the chinese word sound instead of hanyu pin yin. Of course , in Ctrl C V , you then and only then, see the Hanjyu Pinyin from me. That seemed to be the case in Taiwan. Within a couple of km from each other, the same road signs to the same destination written in Chinese will have the phonetics in 5-6 different English forms. In Taiwan, nobody paid any heed to English words. Those lauwais who know also do not pay heed to English words either. Only those righteous ones demand the words to be written correctly (whatever is correct) and the rest of Taiwanese just get on with life.

And yes, I am into chapter 80 of 基督山恩仇記

Do not even try to match my speed of reading when you are in 基督山恩仇記 .

After all, I read little red riding hood and 3 little pigs in Chinese . Have you done that?

Idiotic Taoist all ready to read 鹿鼎記 https://en.wikipedia...nd_the_Cauldron once I finished with Count of Monte Cristo - and when I then finished Romance of the 3 Kingdoms , I might then think I will do TTC
Edited November 6, 2015 by shanlung
Last edited:


Nov 21, 2018
Taiwan, Province Of China
Letter 7 & 8 & 9

  • 道可道非常道

  • shanlung
Posted November 9, 2015
Yes! Folks and fellow bums, I am now halfway through chapter 93 of 基督山恩仇記 .

Another 20++ chapters to my starting on 鹿鼎記 https://en.wikipedia...nd_the_Cauldron

When I was trying to drag my Taiwanese friends kicking and screaming or otherwise into English, I had a look into their English text books. As a mark to their diligence, I saw those pages heavily annotated with writings in Chinese which were meanings of those English words in Chinese. That they carried their crutches and clearly mistaken those crutches as the finger pointing to the moon as the fucking moon itself.

I opened one of my English novels (dozens of that about) and asked them to read. To my amusement, they never read the passage I indicated. They chose to fix on words that they did not know immediately going to their dictionary to find the meaning of that word. Word after word after word. At the end of their dictionary checkings, they could not answer me even in Chinese as to the gist of that passage and essence of that passage despite checking the Chinese meanings of those different damn dan ji (individual word).

In the checking of those damned dan ji , they almost totally overlooked and glossed over the simple english words. They never got it , until I burst into their lives, that it's those simple English words which joined the other words giving the essence to the expressions those sentences tried to convey. By perpertually checking the dictionary, they destroyed the sense of rythmn and never paid attention to the usage of simple words in feeding their obsession to feed their knowledge of those damned dan ji . With all their checking of dan ji , they could not answer me what dan ji did they checked at the beginning . They confirmed what I suspected. Whatever word they checked in the dictionary was forgotten in a few minutes, especially after checking a dozen more of those dan ji .

I bought Ernest Hemingway Old Man and the Sea for them to read. And made them read it.
They read this before in Chinese of course. All of them were extremely intelligent Taiwanese and studying in the University and students/friends of my good friend Chen Hung.

They knew that Old Man and the Sea was cited to be one of the key books of Hemingway in getting the Nobel prize for Literature. They never knew or guessed that book was written with English words well within the grasp of a 12 year old in the English speaking world. I think that got into their hearts and mind. If Hemingway uses simple english words to write a book worth of Nobel prize, then why the **** did they want to keep digging multisyllibic words to find in the dictionaries and then forgetting those words soon after?

I found they could not even get into the first few pages of Old Man and the Sea notwithstanding those words were such simple words as they were just not used to that. I had to drag them kicking and screaming at least ten pages. Then suddenly they realised they could read that without having to do mental translation into Chinese. And some of them continued to read and enjoyed that book to the end. After which they could string 2 coherent sentences in English talking to me.

I suggest you try to get the chinese translation of Old Man and the Sea , 老男人與海 and use that as your entry point into Chinese. Or of course, do what I did in reading Little Red Riding Hood and 3 Little Pigs.

Or get Chinese sex stories if you inclined to those. Even be a class above by reading Ching Ping Mei 金瓶梅 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jin_Ping_Mei
May your joy for lust propel you deeper into the Chinese world.

Just like you folks digging and digging for english translations of chinese words and then forgetting those words by time you get to the next page?
Like my Taiwanese friends, focusing on the words you do not know and then forgetting and ignoring the words you do know or not seeing those words you do know in the matrix of the sentences.

Let us do a test on how good your memory is. I will not even ask you to think in your mind the poem of Li Bai I wrote earlier here as you will not even know those chinese words.
How many lines were in that poem?
How many words per line?

I doubt you could even remember that, but I reproduced that below

靜夜思 Jìng yè sī

床前明月光, Chuáng qián míng yuè guāng,
疑是地上霜。 Yí shì dì shàng shuāng.
舉頭望明月, Jǔ tóu wàng míng yuè,
低頭思故鄉。 Dī tóu sī gùxiāng.

Did you remember exactly what that poem was about?
The first interpretation? and the 2nd?

You probably remembered the flavour and hopefully you remembered and enjoyed that at first reading.

Think back of a novel you are reading now. Can you remember exactly everything of the previous chapter? To give a precis of that now? Probably not. But you enjoyed that book as otherwise, why the **** you continue to read that?

You see a movie at home with others, and decided you need to take a pee or take a beer. In the few seconds you were away from the screen, does that meant you are totally lost when you got back to your seat having missed the plot for a few seconds?

And if not? why the hell must every fucking chinese word that you do not know be checked out in the dictionary? especially as you likely to forget that word after you checked out another dozen words. Tough for you folks , especially if you do not know a single chinese word at the beginning. You do need to check the words, but remember you do not need to memorise them. If the words are simple and often used, you will see that and maybe checked that 5-6 or even a dozen times. After which you should know that chinese word and need not check that again.
Besides http://mandarinspot.com/annotate will translate each and everyone of those chinese words in their appropriate section for easy references and should you feel compelled to check them. You will see that clearly later.

So to refresh what I wrote to you all in Chinese.

Bastardised simplified Jian Ti Ji birthcry was accompanied by the screams of 46 thousand scholars buried alive. Opps buried people do not scream. But I guess their fathers and mothers and sons and daughters and sisters and brothers will scream. Also in continuing to use Jian Ti Ji, the door into Korean and Japanese language will be slammed shut and locked and the keys thrown away.

So please excuse me if I have a strong distaste for that bastardised simplified Jian Ti Ji.

Hanyu PinYin is the intended burial shroud of Chinese Language. But I guess even Mao could not stomach the probable 3,600,000 scholars that he felt must be buried to allow Hanyu Pinyin to replace Chinese.

Zhuyin fuhao (bopomofo) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bopomofo

Consisting of 37 characters and four tone marks, it transcribes all possible sounds in Mandarin.
While this was introduced in 1912 or so, this system is based on much older systems, ranging back to the oracle bone script and to the Mandarin phonetic systems. For hundreds of years and thousand of years before 1912, parents were teaching their little kids how to read chinese and do you think a Westerner or any westerner will know better?

For all I know, without understanding Chinese or just a smackling of chinese , folks such as Thomas Wade in mid 1800s and Albert Allen Giles in 1912 got the Western world kissing at their feet for their Wade Giles system. Truely proving in the world of the blind, the one eyed man is the KING and Emperor wearing beautiful clothings Then others in the western world tacked on tassels and sequins to Wade Gills.

To give you a simple illustration what Wade Gills (who blissfully or deliberately ignored the Chinese way) is like , like at this character for MAN 人
The sound of that is ren (sound like earn with rrrr in front)

Wade Giles tell you to call that jen

Then the name of the town where I meet with that Taoist Immortal who spoke into my mind was 瑞芳 , or will sound much like Ray Fung (sound like hung)

Wade Giles got that as jui fang

RRRR sound never existed in Wade Giles even though RRR sound a dime a dozen in Chinese Mandarin. Wade and Giles must be having too much of Scotch while writing their learned papers to the rest of the world on how to speak Chinese.

Minions of Wade Giles then tacked on tassels and sequins , chewing gum and duct tapes to Wade Giles beautiful robe by adding edicts the the j actually sound like rrrr. Many more edicts were added but you got to ask those experts and minions of Wade Giles.

They then will tell you of aspirated and unaspirated consonants not that I know what the **** all that about even much as I use and speak Chinese.

So now you know why I disliked using Wades Giles . While I got into accident into bopomofo at the beginning in Taiwan, I liked that and advise one and all to use that and drop that hanyu pinyin intended as a burial shroud for Chinese.

Now look at this extract from Count of Monte Cristo 基督山恩仇記


At least 300 characters and more than what was on the Rosetta Stone. Copy and paste that into Google Translate. Not to look at the translation which is actually relative fair even if bad , but totally useless when done on Chinese written the chinese style unlike Chinese here which was a translation of English (or French) in the first place.

Click the sound icon two times to slow the speed and listen to that spoken in Chinese mandarin

In above, I Ctrl C V the first few sentences ( or I could not get it all on a page like below )into http://mandarinspot.com/annotate
and ticked the bopomofo annotation and ticked on printing and ticked on all words


I got


You noticed the bobomofo which will act as mnemonics as to the sound (once you get the hang of those). And after you seen those a dozen or a hundred times and hearing the sound spoken via google translate, you get into bopomofo.

The words translated below (which I said before on a different tab and different screen on my two screen system at home) so you do have the translation almost at finger tips. That you can get to after you finished reading the words while following the spoken chinese words. Heck! you can see the meanings of those words a second and third time the way I did when I started on this 6 weeks or so ago until I got enough to just listen to the words following by eyeballs 3 to 4 pages at a time. Getting into the flow of Chinese. Can anyone ever think the hanyu pinyin or Wades Giles tell you sound better than the voice over in Google ? or the bopomofo be not correct as that bopomofo embedded in Chinese mandarin almost since time immemorial but totally disregarded by Wades and Giles so their names can shine like a beacon of light in the West?

You noticed with bopomofo, your eyes will be drawn inevitably to the written Chinese characters as must be the case if you do want to get into Chinese.

You noticed space introduced between the Chinese characters to make it easier for you to read. And when the chinese words collectively meant something, those words are grouped together. You might even want to separate those grouped words to know what those words individually meant to give the concept that they collectively represented.

Contrast that below to the same clothed in that hanyu pinyin, the intended burial shroud of Chinese language


Your eyes will be inevitably drawn to the English words. You cannot help that at all. That will be entirely mental and subconscious level. The intended burial shroud, hanyu pin yin, while easier initially for you, will forever be your burial shroud with you buried away from Chinese.
And from Korean and Japanese which will be opened to you when you use the Fan ti ji as no koreans or japanese will be caught dead with that bastardised simplifed jian ti ji.

I have a very very good American friend with me almost from the beginning in Taiwan. He is still there with Taiwan as his first home and California as his second home. I last saw him in Riyadh a few months ago and we decided we got better things to do than to keep working for money which will go to our wives boyfriends and toyboys. He graduated from Chinese language classes in Taiwan using hanyu pin yin written above Chinese and with beautiful certificates. He married a Taiwanese and they have a nice son. To this date, my friend cannot read a word of Chinese even though he could speak Chinese quite well. He could only read the Hanyu Pinyin, intended by Mao Tze Tung as burial shroud of Chinese. So if you intend to go the Hanyu Pinyin, you will definately be able to prance about in Hangyu Pinyin and impress your fellow expats no end with your mastery of hanyu pinyin and end up like my friend unable to read any chinese words after 25 years.

This is a free world and you all entitled to your free choice of path to take.

Now it will be clear to you on my present current path.

After the initial hiccups in first reading 鹿鼎記 and unable to get past the first chapter , I went into 水滸傳

水滸傳 is a very beautiful book. Too beautiful I decided for getting into the language, but mind you, I got to chapter 20. The descriptions of mountains and forest sceneries were breath taking after I translate those word by word. With enough repeats, I need not even see those translations. The feats of martial arts were better then those you seen in Hongkong movies as those movies took their scenes from that book.

水滸傳 was also written 600 ears ago. What was bai hwa wen (simple chinese) to that writer would be considered as wen yen wen (serious classical formal chinese ) in our days

I am about to complete that Count of Monte Cristo in Chinese.
基督山恩仇記 or ji du shan en chou ji . And gotten many chinese words and phrases and thoughts into me, more than what my Chinese tutors did get into me in Taiwan. As I said many times before the fault was never in their teaching of me.

I can then move on to 鹿鼎記 https://en.wikipedia...nd_the_Cauldron
A chinese wuxia written via chinese thoughts.
That is unlike the 基督山恩仇記 , a translation of a Western book into chinese, following western thought process but basically not Chinese evne if Chinese words were totally used.

I think I will be well able to handle and enjoy the Deer and Cauldron Memoirs and get even more Chinese into me.

My final read will be that Romance of the 3 Kingdoms , 三國演義 , san guo yen yi

Written over 600 years ago and probably even more wen yen wenish than even that Water margin suei hu juan 水滸傳

Why do I do that to get into the Tao Te Ching?
Which many of you want to get into when you barely read a handful of Chinese characters?

You know the vast gulf between normal chinese of bai hwa wen and classical formal chinese or wen yen wen.

I do believe the gulf between Tao Te Ching and Wen Yen Wen to be likely even more that that first gulf.

So I might not even bother with reading TTC as I doubt the more I read even in Chinese will lead to even more that I know.

But most important of all, after that initial agony of the first few days, I am truly enjoying myself on this journey. And you should too, after the first few days of agony.

Idiotic Taoist all ready to read 鹿鼎記 https://en.wikipedia...nd_the_Cauldron once I finished with Count of Monte Cristo - and when I then finished Romance of the 3 Kingdoms , I might then think I will do TTC

  • 道可道非常道

  • shanlung
Posted November 14, 2015 (edited)
I finished on today, 14 Nov 2015, chapter 117 and the final chapter of 基督山恩仇記 or ji du shan en chou ji , Count of Monte Cristo in Chinese.

At about the average of 10,000 characters (+ - 1,000) per chapter, I have been through over a million chinese characters spoken to me via Google translate , and with me following those written characters via http://mandarinspot.com/annotate .

In the last 20 chapters or so, I was reading those chinese words ahead of the spoken sound.

I have to confess I could not remember those 1 million chinese characters. For that matter, after you read an English novel, can you remember those hundred thousand words that crossed your eyes into your head?

I enjoyed that 基督山恩仇記 very much. It was almost with regret that I finished that last chapter instead of an event that I should look forward to.

Like saying farewell to an old friend.

I do hope I picked up sub consciously the sentence and structures of Chinese. In a way much more enjoyable and meaningful in trying to read any book/books on Chinese grammar written in English and dozens of them on sale in the Internet. As if a book on Chinese structure written in English can guide you on Chinese.

But a chapter must end for the next to start. Which will be the 鹿鼎記 , or Deer and the Cauldron.
That will have to wait for tomorrow as I am also a procrastinator and do not wish to do today what I can do tomorrow.

Finishing of that 基督山恩仇記 or ji du shan en chou ji is only the 2nd footstep of my path into Chinese. The first footstep was to speak Chinese when I was in Taiwan. Many many more footsteps in this path , lined with Pond's cold cream and even better. I do think this path is better than whatever the destination this will lead to.

Much time was spend, about 3-4 hours a day on average. But the last 4 days about 2 hours or so. I had too many dinners and gatherings with fellow retirees and bums with nothing to do but to enjoy those dinners and drinks and laughing like little kids that we became. And of course, English novels (just completed Brandon Sanderson The Way of Kings )to read , chess to play and drinking when thirsty and eating when hungry and fornicating when horny, and roses to smell now and then.

I have a confession to make. I taken poetic license with what I wrote of my very very good friend when I said he could not read a single chinese word. I send what I wrote to him via the URL

I have a very very good American friend with me almost from the beginning in Taiwan. He is still there with Taiwan as his first home and California as his second home. I last saw him in Riyadh a few months ago and we decided we got better things to do than to keep working for money which will go to our wives boyfriends and toyboys. He graduated from Chinese language classes in Taiwan using hanyu pin yin written above Chinese and with beautiful certificates. He married a Taiwanese and they have a nice son. To this date, my friend cannot read a word of Chinese even though he could speak Chinese quite well. He could only read the Hanyu Pinyin, intended by Mao Tze Tung as burial shroud of Chinese. So if you intend to go the Hanyu Pinyin, you will definately be able to prance about in Hangyu Pinyin and impress your fellow expats no end with your mastery of hanyu pinyin and end up like my friend unable to read any chinese words after 25 years.

He replied to me making me mortified with horror at my dastardly representation of him.
That I besmirched his reputation.
I beat my breast and gnash my teeth in anguish and must hide my face in shame.

This was his reply (redacted for focus )

Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2015 5:16 PM
Subject: Re: getting into Chinese

To my immensely wonderful friend from the antiquity of time,

I am deeply humbled and gratified by your magnanimous reference to our enduring friendship toward the end of your text.

It is indeed true that, to this day, I can hardly recognize a character - well, maybe 10 or so, yet somehow maintain intermediate fluency in the spoken language, even though I have not opened a pin yin book in over 20 years.

I noted with interest your mention in the paragraph about me that Taiwan is my first home and LA my second. This is indeed a powerful conversation I am having with myself. As a native American who is not from LA, I find myself equally and squarely between two worlds, with distinct pluses and minuses for each. We have a lovely house here which we have refurbished and furnished very nicely, loads of indoor and outdoor space (just waiting for your visit!) - yet as the time draws near for us to spend the winter in Taipei, I find myself longing for that other home in Taipei which is still there for us, and the friends and places I have not seen there for so long. This is indeed another transitional phase in my life, almost as powerful as the one I experienced when I moved to Taiwan in 1990.

I fully intend to enjoy the fruits and pleasures offered on both sides of the Pacific Pond. No need for any ultimate decisions as to 1 or 2. As the famous Yankee baseball player Yogi Berra once said, "when you come to a fork in the road, take it."

My very very good friend can read 10, a whole ten chinese words instead of none as assumed and so written by me.

I was very apologetic in my reply and the sincerity of my reply was underlined by my promise to buy the first round of drinks when we meet likely about 26 Dec 2015 in Taipei.

Idiotic Taoist all ready to read 鹿鼎記 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Deer_and_the_Cauldron , but not today
Edited November 15, 2015 by shanlung

  • 道可道非常道
Posted November 19, 2015
I started on 鹿鼎記 a couple of days ago.
Kept pushing it to tomorrow until the Tao told me to get on with it.

No wonder I gave up on this book so quickly when I began this path 2 months ago.
Notwithstanding I been through that 基督山恩仇記 or ji du shan en chou ji , the difference between a Chinese translated from English and a totally Chinese book written with Chinese mind is a world apart.

I had dinner with my son last Saturday. He told me the first couple of chapters had been horror even for him. It dealt with the machinations of government and politics, much craftiness and toadying. But once I got to the main star of the book, that the going will be much easier as he then lie and betray and cheat and craven himself to play 3 sides of the game.

I have to revert back to reading para by para and checking out words and group of words. My consolation is that I am enjoying the beauty and the expressions found. Such as

石沉大海 shíchéndàhǎi lit. to throw a stone and see it sink without trace in the sea (idiom) / fig. to elicit no response
Again I know all the words, literal translation - stone , sink , big, sea . But to see those 4 simple words joined together for that expression.

錢可通神 qiánkětōngshén with money, you can do anything (idiom) / money talks

literal translation - money, can , talk through to , god

死裡逃生 sǐlǐtáoshēng mortal danger, escape alive (idiom); a narrow escape / to survive by the skin of one's teeth
Above I do know all the words which are simple. Meant - death , in, jump , life except never known it until now to be used in such context to form that concept collectively

Idiotic Taoist scratching halfway through chapter 1 of 鹿鼎記

Letter 10 & 11, the last letter

  • shanlung
Posted December 6, 2015
I just about to finish chapter 3 of 鹿鼎記

My rate of reading got somewhat derailed. I found Brandon Sanderson The Way of Kings , itself consisting of 2 books about 700 pages each, continued with Words of Radiance of 1100 pages. Which was another incredible read. I further found that was given Gemmell prize. And in googling other books with Gemmell prize found many other authors with books readily available in my local libraries. Such books by Andrzej Sapkowski such as Witcher and Blood of Elves and more. Furthermore, books by James Rollins and Lee Child latest Make Me got borrowed and begging to be read.

Which kind of indicate why my rate of reading of 鹿鼎記 got slowed down even though it was getting more and more readable. I need not mention either of the many lunches and dinners and drinks with old friends , retired or ungainfully employed.

In 2nd chapter, found Chinese language extremely full of colorful language that the hero Wei Siao Bao at 8 years old gleefully used. His mom was a prostitute in a whorehouse and did not know who the father was. Whorehouses in those days were places of entertainment with story tellers spinning tales from Water Margin and Romance of 3 kingdoms with tales of heroes and fighting and cunning back stabbing strategies. Siao Bao found he was without peers in back stabbings as his martial arts was close to zero and guys that frequent brothels were all big guys and/or martial artists.

For those who love martial arts stories, even in chapter 2 and 3, you get those in abundance such as an old evil eunuch who could put Bruce Lee into his pocket and beat the shit out of Miyamoto Musashi armed with a single chopstick. But lost to Siao Bao cunning ways who blinded him and pretending now to be his little caregiver that Siao Bao killed. And thats only in chapter 3 with one hundred ++ still to go. He yet got to meet the young Kangsi Emperor.

In the messages up to here, I was still on the soap box scattering my pearls how to get into Chinese while reading that
基督山恩仇記 which was why I kept a running record of the chapters I had read.

Those pearls all scattered. I am also trying to finish those books I borrowed from the library before I go on my walk about.

I will add on only when folks like to ask me more, be that on handful of coarse grit and sand or Ponds cold cream.
I try to give advice as honestly as I am capable of.

Taoistic Idiot just about to finish chapter 3 of 鹿鼎記

  • 道可道非常道

  • shanlung
Posted January 2, 2016 (edited)
I am about to finish chapter 11 of 鹿鼎記 .

I enjoyed myself very much to this point. It is estimated 1,230 k chinese characters are in this book subdivided into 50 chapters.
Or that I have read 200k of chinese characters in a form so much better that rote learning.

This saga will be coming to a temporary hiatus soon. I have planned to travel to Spain for 2 months or so prior to South America and Belize to check if yuan feng will make my retirement place somewhere there. I need to see if I can get a bit into Spanish language firs. So I am thinking of reading Don Quixote in Spanish the way I done so in Chinese.

Prior to that I really must update my Livejournal as to that episode in Nepal. Also as a memorial to many of the Nepali friends who seemed to have disappeared. And to show case my photos of Khatmandu and places which do not exist anymore. And also that chapter of life in Riyadh , Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Al that must be done before I leave for Spain likely early Feb this year.

In the meanwhile, I had mentioned of

Or get Chinese sex stories if you inclined to those. Even be a class above by reading Ching Ping Mei 金瓶梅 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jin_Ping_Mei
May your joy for lust propel you deeper into the Chinese world.


Jin Ping Mei
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jin Ping Mei (Chinese: 金瓶梅; pinyin: Jīn Píng Méi) — translated into English as The Plum in the Golden Vase or The Golden Lotus — is a Chinese naturalistic novel composed in vernacular Chinese during the lateMing Dynasty (1368–1644). The anonymous author took the pseudonym Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng (蘭陵笑笑生), "The Scoffing Scholar of Lanling,"[1] and his identity is otherwise unknown (the only clue being that he hailed from Lanling in present-day Shandong).[2] The novel circulated in manuscript as early as 1596, and may have undergone revision up to its first printed version in 1610. The most widely read version, edited and published with commentaries by Zhang Zhupo in 1695, unfortunately accepted the deletion and rewriting of many passages.[3]
The graphically explicit depiction of sexuality garnered the novel a notoriety in China akin to Fanny Hill and Lolita in English literature, but critics such as the translator David Tod Roy see a firm society structure which exacts retribution for the sexual libertinism of the central characters.[4]
Jin Ping Mei takes its name from the three central female characters — Pan Jinlian (潘金蓮, whose given name means "Golden Lotus"); Li Ping'er (李瓶兒, given name literally means, "Little Vase"), a concubine of Ximen Qing; and Pang Chunmei (龐春梅, "Spring plum blossoms"), a young maid who rose to power within the family.[2] Chinese critics see each of the three Chinese characters in its title as symbolizing an aspect of human nature, such as mei (梅), plum blossoms, is metaphoric for sexuality.
Princeton University Press, in describing the Roy translation, calls the novel "a landmark in the development of the narrative art form – not only from a specifically Chinese perspective but in a world-historical context...noted for its surprisingly modern technique" and "with the possible exception of The Tale of Genji (c. 1010) and Don Quixote (1605, 1615), there is no earlier work of prose fiction of equal sophistication in world literature."[5]


Chapter 4 illustration of Jing Ping Mei.
Jin Ping Mei is framed as a spin-off from Water Margin. The beginning chapter is based on an episode in which "Tiger Slayer" Wu Song avenges the murder of his older brother by brutally killing his brother's former wife and murderer, Pan Jinlian. The story, ostensibly set during the years 1111–27 (during the Northern Song Dynasty), centers on Ximen Qing (西門慶), a corrupt social climber and lustful merchant who is wealthy enough to marry six wives and concubines. After secretly murdering Pan Jinlian's husband, Ximen Qing takes her as one of his wives. The story follows the domestic sexual struggles of the women within his household as they clamor for prestige and influence amidst the gradual decline of the Ximen clan. In Water Margin, Ximen Qing was brutally killed in broad daylight by Wu Song; in Jin Ping Mei, Ximen Qing in the end dies from an overdose of aphrodisiacs administered by Jinlian in order to keep him aroused. The intervening sections, however, differ in almost every way from Water Margin.[6] In the course of the novel, Ximen has 19 sexual partners, including his 6 wives and mistresses. There are 72 detailed sexual episodes.[7]


Ximen and Golden Lotus, illustration from 17th-century Chinese edition
For centuries identified as pornographic and officially banned most of the time, the book has nevertheless been read surreptitiously by many of the educated class. The early Qing dynasty critic Zhang Zhupo remarked that those who regard Jin Ping Mei as pornographic "read only the pornographic passages."[8] The influential author Lu Xun, writing in the 1920s, called it "the most famous of the novels of manners" of the Ming dynasty, and reported the opinion of the Ming dynasty critic, Yuan Hongdao, that it was "a classic second only to Shui Hu Zhuan." He added that the novel is "in effect a condemnation of the whole ruling class."[9] The American scholar and literary critic Andrew H. Plaks ranks Jin Ping Mei as one of the "Four Masterworks of the Ming Novel" along with Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Water Margin, and Journey to the West, which collectively constitute a technical breakthrough and reflect new cultural values and intellectual concerns.[10]
The story contains a surprising number of descriptions of sexual objects and coital techniques that would be considered fetish today, as well as a large amount of bawdy jokes and oblique but still titillating sexual euphemisms. Some critics have argued that the highly sexual descriptions are essential, and have exerted what has been termed a "liberating" influence on other Chinese novels that deal with sexuality, most notably the Dream of the Red Chamber. David Roy, the novel's most recent translator, sees an "uncompromising moral vision," which he associates with the philosophy of Xunzi, who held that human nature is evil and can be redeemed only through moral transformation.[8]

Since is is very unlikely that anyone reading this note will start on that book in Chinese, I thought I still try my bit to make the horses drink after I brought and dragged them to the water trough.

Here is a very good movie of that in youtube.
Never mind the english translation of the title which is useless as most English translation of Chinese. You see the movie title in Chinese is 金瓶梅

You will get the chinese characters as subtitles with no English to distract you. You see the different beauties and the glory of a chinese whore house in all splendour of Song Dynasty.

Do try to focus on the chinese characters and not be too distracted by our hero as he frolic about with his hands and other things and seducing to the right and fornicating to the left with girls and nuns.

As much as you enjoy the movie, do remember the written book always will be much more powerful than any movies attempted of books. What the book can paint into your mind will be even more than what the movie will print into your eyeballs.

Idiotic Taoist about to say adios to this saga into Chinese language
Edited January 2, 2016 by shanlung

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