We are somewhere in rural China in the Sichuan province. It’s the three of us, our guide, ”Julie”, and our driver. We are hours from Chengdu, which is the gateway to Tibet, heading up some crazy, winding, mountain roads.
All of a sudden our minivan screeches to a halt as we come around a corner. In the middle of the road is a menagerie of animals.
Our driver honks, but the animals don‘t budge. Two lazy camels are literally blocking the road. A little girl of about 12, wearing a fern leaf garland in her hair, is standing there with all these animals. So, we spill out of the vehicle, laughing at the situation. Somehow, my son, Quinton, ends up feeding the goats and deer.
Finally our humped roadblock moves, we climb back into the minivan, and continue our adventure. We eventually end up near Bifengxia. Here, our driver says he can’t continue, we have to take a “bus”. He will wait here for us though.
So, we get out with Julie and wait for the bus.
While waiting, we become celebs. Julie explains that most of the locals here have never seen westerners in real life. But, they are lovely and everyone wants their pictures taken with us.
Eventually, a “bus” arrives. It’s just like in the movies—chugging along, spewing black smoke out the back. We ride this jam packed dilapidated bus, praying we don’t go cascading over the side of the mountain.
After getting off the bus, we get onto a funicular to continue upward. We are packed in like sardines and I grab an overhead metal pole for support, like you would on a subway.
Suddenly, I am well aware that almost every eye is on me. The women start whispering, some trying to subtly point at me, others just staring at my arm held up over my head, grasping the pole. I’m amused, but confused, wondering what on earth is so intriguing to them. I keep looking at my arm, my shoulder, my hand. Is something stuck to me? I‘m unable to solve the mystery. Is it not ladylike to hold the pole? I don’t want to fall though.
When we got off the funicular, the first thing I ask Julie is, “Why on earth was everyone whispering about me?”
She got really shy and then said, ”it’s because your armpits are shaved.“
I could not stop giggling.
I'm glad I asked because I'd have never guessed that as the reason.