Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Fangzheng directly bought a ticket for Wumen Valley and was assigned to one of the big buses.
This bus would transport one of the two big groups, and at this time, Fangzheng had become one of the members of the group.
Fangzheng did not know much about Wumen Valley. All he knew was that it was one of the five A-grade scenic spots assigned by the country. There were minority villages and a very beautiful scenery there. He knew nothing beyond that.
As the boarding time began, the driver and the tour guide led everyone into placing their luggage in an orderly manner as the tour guide let everyone up one by one while their names were called out. This way, everyone boarded the bus over time. Perhaps it had to do with Fangzheng buying the last ticket and being inserted into the group at the very last minute, but he ended up sitting in the last row.
Supposedly, this travel group wasn’t a chartered bus but was run by a small traveling agency. Everyone had bought the tickets at the location, and they boarded the bus before setting off. The bus was originally full, but as someone couldn’t make it, Fangzheng was arranged to be on this bus.
Fangzheng was extremely pleased with regards to this. If he had been arranged to be on another bus, that would be troublesome.
The tourists all cast curious gazes at Fangzheng when they saw this monk boarding the bus with them. Although monks would travel, most monks would change their attire to appear like common folk. Very few monks traveled like Fangzheng in monk robes, especially when Fangzheng was extremely young.
Although everyone was curious, no one said a thing. They just found it interesting.
Fangzheng walked to the back row and in the seat beside him was a brawny man. He had a crew cut and wore a white t-shirt and black trousers. When he saw Fangzheng walking over, he nodded his head amiably, and Fangzheng returned the gesture with one hand.
A girl was leaning against the window with earphones on. When she saw Fangzheng walk over, she took off her earphones and said in embarrassment, “Sorry, I’m a little susceptible to motion sickness. Can we change seats?”
Fangzheng said, “Amitabha. Of course. Patron, feel free.”
Therefore, Fangzheng sat between the brawny man and the girl.
When the girl saw how easy going Fangzheng was, she heaved a sigh of relief and sized up Fangzheng with wide-eyed curiosity. “Venerable One, did you join the group because it’s cheaper?”
Fangzheng nodded and said, “Yes.”
“No wonder. I’ve never seen you before.” When the girl said that, she reached out her hand and said, “I’m Qin Lan. Nice to meet you, Mr. Venerable One.”
Fangzheng was taken aback. Mr. Venerable One? That was the first time he was hearing someone call him in that manner. Fangzheng did not shake her hand as he pressed his palms together and said, “Amitabha. Nice to meet you, Patron Qin. This Penniless Monk’s Dharma name is Fangzheng. Glad to be traveling with you.”
Qin Lan looked oddly at Fangzheng’s ears because his ears had turned red just because of the thought of a handshake! It was as if Qin Lan had discovered a national treasure before her. How could there be such a pure man in this day and age? What an… oddity! As for Fangzheng’s choice of not shaking her hand, she naturally thought nothing of it. She only felt that Fangzheng was quite interesting.
Perhaps it was the embarrassment Fangzheng expressed towards the opposite sex that made Qin Lan assured about Fangzheng. Therefore, she began teasing Fangzheng by continuously finding topics to chat with him. Fangzheng did not reject her as the journey was long. It was naturally nice to have someone to talk to. Furthermore, she was quite a beautiful girl with a nice personality. However, Fangzheng did not speak much since most of what he knew concerned Buddhist scriptures or traditional culture. He was still a neophyte when it came to the outside world. Therefore, Fangzheng would only listen with a smile to whatever Qin Lan said. During the conversation, Fangzheng also learned about the travel group. This was a traveling group that had followed the coast. They would be staying at Wumen Valley for three days and were a sightseeing group without any shopping involved.
Seeing the two having a nice conversation, the brawny man also joined in. His name was Jiang Jun, a domineering name that sounded like “general.” When he mentioned his name, his face reddened, causing Fangzheng and Qin Lan to laugh. That was especially the case for Qin Lan. Although they were in the same group, she had only gotten off the plane late at night of the day before. By the time everyone had gathered the previous day, it was already late at night. Everyone had headed back to their rooms for sleep without interacting much. She didn’t expect to bump into two rare characters today. It was as if she had discovered a new continent.
Jiang Jun was only a little exasperated towards his name. At other times, he would speak concisely, showcasing his knowledge. When he recounted stories, it left Fangzheng and Qin Lan astounded.
As the three began conversing, the mood in the bus was enlivened. Everyone began to relax as conversations started taking place.
It was unknown whose voice it was that was a little loud. “The few of you, stop talking about it. Seriously, make sure to pay attention when we arrive on location. If you get robbed or pickpocketed, blame it on your luck. Reporting to the police is useless as they are all in cahoots. They won’t bother with it. Also, try to keep conversations with the sellers to a minimum. They can be quite nefarious. If they end up grabbing you and refusing to let go unless you buy something, it will be troublesome.”
“I’m pissed hearing you mention the cops. The last time I lost my cell phone, I reported it to the police, but they didn’t even care about me. They took my statement and sent me on my way. It’s been more than two months, and there’s not one bit of news. Tell me, is it that hard for police to capture thieves?”
“That’s right. They don’t do their jobs despite being paid. They are just like dogs in a manger.”
“The cops these days are heartless. They aren’t like those in the past…”
Upon hearing everyone share their opinions about how bad the police were, Jiang Jun frowned. He didn’t speak much but after some time, he couldn’t help but say, “There are still many good cops…”
“From what you are saying, I’m sure you haven’t suffered because of the police. Look at the news, it’s either urban enforcers assaulting people or the police doing forced evictions. In this day and age, are there any good cops left?” said the first person who had raised the topic with curled lips. He was a man wearing glasses.
“There might be good cops these days, but they are in the minority. Anyway, look at the news reports. I don’t see any good ones. Besides, there are so many petty thieves and pickpockets; it’s not like I see the police doing anything about that,” said a woman with long hair and sunglasses. She was dressed in green sun-protective clothes.
“That’s right. Sis Liu, you can’t be any more right. In the past, we called the cops whenever there was something. Nowadays, unless someone is dead, who would dare call the cops?” A woman in a flowery dress beside Sis Liu echoed.
Everyone nodded in unison.
Fangzheng realized that Jiang Jun’s expression was turning ugly as his smile turned awkward. He sighed and narrowed his eyes before turning silent.
After everyone finished talking about the police, they diverted the topic to tour guides.
“I heard that the shops at Wumen Valley are scams. There are many who scam tourists too. When we arrive there, it’s best we don’t strike up conversations with strangers,” exhorted the man in sunglasses.
“Brother Li, you have been saying the same thing the entire journey, but Wumen Valley is indeed quite dodgy. There’s negative news coming from it every year. It’s common for tourists to get scammed,” said Sis Liu.