"At the source of the You River," he said, opening his eyes.
You didn't know this You River either, but was embarrassed about asking and gave an ambiguous nod which could have meant either "I see, thanks" or "Oh, I know the place". This satisfied your desire for superiority, but not your curiosity. After a while you asked how to get there and the route up the mountain.
"Take the train to Wuyizhen, then go upstream by boat on the You River."
"What's there? Scenery? Temples? Historic sites?" you asked, trying to be casual.
"It's all virgin wilderness."
"Of course, but not just ancient forests."
"What about Wild Men?" you said, joking.
He laughed without any sarcasm, and didn't seem to be making fun of himself which intrigued you even more. You had to find out more about him.
"Are you an ecologist? A biologist? An anthropologist? An archaeologist?"
He shook his head each time then said, "I'm more interested in living people."
"So you're doing research on folk customs? You're a sociologist? An ethnographer? An ethnologist? A journalist, perhaps? An adventurer?"
"I'm an amateur in all of these."
The two of you started laughing.
"I'm an expert amateur in all of these!"
The laughing made you and him cheerful. He lit a cigarette and couldn't stop talking as he told you about the wonders of Lingshan.
Soul Mountain. Copyright (c) 2000 by Gao Xingjian. Reprinted with permission from HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.
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