• Barbara Murphy-Shannon

China Day 7 -Things That Go Bump In The Night.

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

At breakfast, Chris was very sarcastic to the waitress.

He’s such an ass.

We found out that the bus was sold out to go to the Stone Forest.

We walked back to the hotel.

“I love your smile,” Chris said out of nowhere.

I smiled and said, “thankssss.”

“Your eyes too,” he said

What the hell was that?

I can’t believe this guy.

He’s flirting with me.

When we got back we went to the train station and it was the same old story. No tickets unless you wait in long lines and you wouldn’t leave for 4 days.

“This place sucks,” Chris yells.

“Yes, it’s frustrating not being able to get tickets and everything moves at a slower pace in China,” I responded.

In my head I was thinking, boo-hoo, your life is so awful, you’re in China traveling dip shit…it’s so awful.

I feel like saying, “If you don’t like it why don’t you go home.”

Now he’s sulking. He’s a fucking 2-year-old.

I don’t want to travel with this person. HELP!

We decided to go to the airlines to see prices and dates to go to Beijing.

It was so expensive.

I went to the China Travel Service office to see how much a train to Beijing would be. See at CTS you have to pay with FEC money, not REM so you pay 70% more. It was my last chance. It was 85Y FEC to Beijing on the 10th. It would take 3 days on a train to get there. It was my last hope to get to see the Great Wall. I purchased the ticket and so did Chris.

GREAT! Shoot Me!

So, we have until the 10th to explore Kunming and its surroundings. We are going to the Stone Forest tomorrow and plan to spend a night there to get out of the city.

When we got back to the hotel, I read my book and Chris went into the dorm to sleep.

He’s in such a bad mood. I think he is waiting for me to be all…

“Are you ok?”

Not going to do it.

I’m no Psychology expert…yet, but the sulker, AKA Chris, pretends to ignore me in order to monopolize all of my attention…like a child. They will persist in trying to push your buttons until you fall, victim.

Fuck that shit!

I wrote in my journal while Chris slept. At 5:45 I woke him up because we had plans to meet Gao at 6 pm at the front gate. Gao was waiting for us.

Gao was taking us to a local restaurant. On the way, we ran into AnnMarie and Bruno the French couple. They decided to join us.

Chris has been dragging behind us as we walk to the restaurant. He’s like 2-3 feet behind the group. You know who does this, a child that isn’t getting their way.

Gao ordered for us. We had dumplings, Goose toasted goat cheese, rice steamed buns, and veggie soup. It was so delicious. We were all laughing and having fun BUT…guess who wasn’t?

Chris sat at the table with a big puss on his face.

I wanted to smack that shit off his face.

As we walked back to the hotel I let Gao listen to my Walkman (Bob Marley and Bruce Springsteen). I had one earphone in one ear and he had the other in his ear. As we listen to the words of the song.

Born in the U.S.A. I was born in the U.S.A. I was born in the U.S.A. Born in the U.S.A.

Got in a little hometown jam So they put a rifle in my hand Sent me off to a foreign land To go and kill the yellow man

Born in the U.S.A. I was born in the U.S.A. I was born in the U.S.A. Born in the U.S.A.

I wondered what Gao was thinking when he heard these words.

“Kill the yellow man”

Gao being Gao, he just smiled.

Maybe he didn’t understand…I hope so.

Suddenly those words had a totally different meaning for me.

That’s the thing about traveling to different places, you realize that the world is not a big foreign place. We all want the same things in life.

When we arrived at the hotel gate, Gao kept saying thank you to me for spending so much time with him. He said he can hardly wait to tell his family of our time together.

I said, “You should come to visit me in America.”

Knowing all the well that this would never happen.

“Barbara, if I get the chance, you’ll be the first person I visit,”

Suddenly my eyes started to fill up with tears and my vision got blurry.

I couldn’t help but start to cry.

It’s not fair. He’s stuck here. It felt so wrong but I couldn’t do anything about it.

I couldn’t help myself, I put my arms around him and gave him a big hug. At first, he didn’t hug back.

“Oh shit!” Am I wrong for doing this?

Then he hugged me back.

It was a quick hug but a hug nonetheless.

I’m honored to have met such a wonderful man. A once in a lifetime chance.

An Angel!

I was so pissed off at Chris.

I’m not sure what to do about it. I just wanted to get away from him.

When we entered the hotel lobby I told him I was going to the gift shop.

He went upstairs thank god. I looked around for a while and then went upstairs to the dorm. When I entered I didn’t make eye contact. I just couldn’t look at that big puss on his face anymore. I acted like nothing was bothering me.

He made such an ass of himself tonight, it was pathetic. Everyone noticed.

I sat on my bed, my pen in my hand and my headphones in my ears to block him out.

He asked me a couple of questions but I acted like I didn’t hear him. I’m not sure what the fuck to do! Maybe I should confront him on the bus tomorrow.

I wish I wasn’t even going. I wish I was in Hong Kong with Bob.

I was reading Tia Pan very intently and also trying to avoid talking to Chris. He had the bunk next to me.

Chris left to take a shower and when he returned he shut the lights off.

“Hey, I’m still reading,” I said.

“Well, go outside and read,” he shot back


I felt like saying “fuck off” instead I just smirked at him.

I read for another 15 minutes, feeling guilty so I shut off the lights.

I wasn’t tired and laid awake pondering. I thought about Bob and what gift I should buy him? I wondered if he missed me. I wondered if John has written to me. Will he come to visit me in Boston? Will Bob and I see each other when we are back in Boston? I wonder what my family is doing. It’s been weeks since we last spoke. I hope everyone is ok.

The room is pitch black and you can’t see anything. I checked my watch, it read 1:35 am and I’m not sleepy at all.

Suddenly I hear this low pitch squeaking sound.

“What was that?”

I lay motionless holding my breath at first only hearing the ticking of my watch and at the same moment the floor creaked, so quiet and stealthy as to be scarcely audible, the sound of something scurrying across the floor.

The darkness was oppressive.

The noise grew louder and more intense.

It was a horrible noise, "pfft-pfft-pfft" followed by silence ... and then more of the same.

I sat up in my bed listening.

A loud scratching resounded through the room.

Hundreds of little claws scratched the floor.

“Rats!” I trembled.

The sounds filled the room. They were everywhere.

I was freaking out and wondered if anyone else was awake and freaking out.

I quickly pulled the covers over my head and tucked in my blanket on all sides so they couldn’t get in.

My attention was on full alert as I listen intently hoping they didn’t come near me.

I tried to make noise with my bracelet to scare them. “Jungle, jungle”

The night seemed like an eternity.

It would get incredibly hot under the covers and I’d have to stick my head out every once in a while to get a breath of air praying I wouldn’t confront a rat.

I was trying to stay awake until dawn but I dozed off.

Suddenly I hear a loud shriek of fear.

I peeked from under my blanket to see who was screaming.

It was Ann Marie.

She was jumping up and down.

“Oh Fuck…oh Fuck,” Ann Marie cried loudly and runs to turn on the light.

“A rat was on my pillow next to my head,” she cried.

I whipped the blanket back over my head.

I hear everyone waking up and talking so I slowly peel back the blanket from my make-shift fort relieved the awful sounds had ceased, although the echoes of it were still in the room.


This is a true story that chronicles my rebellious journey when I was 24 years old backpacking around the world looking for solace after the end of an abusive marriage (ok to escape). An intensely graphic and heartfelt memoir of self-discovery is about how getting lost can be where you belong, how traveling to new cultures and meeting new people helps you heal (they don't judge), find your voice and remember who you really are and want to be. It is certain to inspire anyone who has ever woken up in a life they don’t want to be in. Many life lessons and some bad decisions (sorry Mom) along the way. Buckle in! It's going to be a bumpy ride.

xoxo, Barbara