SWFM 303

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Chapter 303: Old Jin’s ways

 

The man was surnamed Jin (Gold). His name was Jin Shengxing.

The child was called Jinshan (Golden Mountain).

Xu Tingsheng had dinner with this father and son that night.

They didn’t seem to be in a rush to return, anyway.

Arriving at a restaurant near the beach, Xu Tingsheng thought that the time had come for him to utilise his language proficiency as he thought to find a waiter with better English to communicate with. In the meantime, however, Old Jin had already settled the matter completely with gestures and wads of cash that he clapped down on the table.

After the first waiter had returned with tips in hand, the other waiters successively came over to serve them.

“Thank you…hello…I love you…” Chinese phrases were thrown out crappily one after the other.

Who said that the French were arrogant?

After generously distributing the tips to everyone, Old Jin ordered a whole bunch of seafood and various types of wine. He turned and looked at the dazed Xu Tingsheng, saying, “See, problems that can be settled with money are not problems in the first place. Who needs culture anyway?!”

Xu Tingsheng had no words for that as he just casually asked, “Old Bro, what do you work in?”

Old Jin said, “Coal mining. I’ve got a few mines over in Shanxi.”

Xu Tingsheng knew that he had met a real tycoon.

Going by how Old Jin was spending his money, logically speaking, there should be no need for him to follow a tour group like this at all. Getting a private trip arranged should not be a problem. Yet, not only was he a tycoon, he was also a bumpkin, not liking all that high-class, elegant stuff as well as he neither understood nor cared about it. What he got a kick out of was good enough.

Such a valiant living philosophy, such a hearty, unrestrained manner.

“What about you? You’re still studying?” Old Jin asked Xu Tingsheng.

Xu Tingsheng answered, “Right, I’m in my second year of university.”

Old Jin said, “So you really are still a student, huh. Well, just relax and eat, young bro. You probably don’t usually get much of a chance to eat like this anyway…well, go on. Old bro will pay. You’re still spending your parents’ money on school. If there’s nothing, don’t randomly run around and waste money in the future.”

While his words should clearly be described as very ‘self-righteous’ and even slightly show-offy, Xu Tingsheng just felt that he was very straightforward and sincere.

He replied, “Okay.”

The dishes were served very quickly.

For people who really love eating seafood or places where seafood is truly eaten, the cooking preparations are actually not complex at all. Virtually everything is simply thrown inside the pot and cooked in salt water, after which they are scooped up with their freshest, most original taste.

Sometimes, there are some dishes which are cooked using brandy.

For seafood restaurants who dare to employ such a cooking method, this only goes to show how confident they are in their seafood. No stunts, no tricks-they depend completely on the quality of their seafood, their freshness and their deliciousness.

As for those with all sorts of intricate ploys, drawing flowery images and whatever…if you actually look closely at them…their original ingredients mostly aren’t all that great, really.

As the large crab that weighed over a kilogram was split apart in the centre with a knife, the yellow interior of the crab all around, coupled with rows upon rows of oysters and enormous prawns…even Xu Tingsheng who didn’t really like seafood all that much ate with much relish.

This place should be heaven for Xiang Ning. Xu Tingsheng wondered when he might ever bring her here. If they came, there was no need to go to the beach or anything like that-after all, there was nothing much to show off with her figure-just finding a seafood restaurant and dumping her inside would be good enough.

Following that came the wine. Red wine, white wine, champagne, brandy, and even French beer that was not very famous. France actually even had a type of beer that was known as Louis XIII.

Xu Tingsheng wasn’t knowledgeable regarding this at all. As he was wondering if seafood went better with white wine, Old Jin had already gone ahead and poured one type for him. This still couldn’t be considered anything. Of real import was how he let his six-year-old son, Jinshan, have a taste of every kind.

“Let the kid broaden his horizons,” Old Jin said.

The meal lasted for more than two hours. Xu Tingsheng and Old Jin had both drunk themselves dizzy as they nearly left about the similarly drunken Jinshan behind in the restaurant. It was only after his father had paid the bill and they were at the door that he remembered…

“The heck, where’s my son? …My camera’s still with him.”

Xu Tingsheng could only wonder if it was his son or those pictures in the camera that he had in fact suddenly remembered.

They took a taxi back to the hotel that Old Jin and his son were staying in. There, they found the tour guide, a petite girl, crying inside the lobby. Seeing that Old Jin had returned, she heaved a sigh of relief even as she felt all stifled inside, infuriated yet not daring to say a thing. Feeling aggrieved, she just sniffed over by the side, dabbing at her tears.

Xu Tingsheng and Old Jin exchanged their handphone numbers.

“Remember to give me a call when you pass by Yanzhou next time, Old Bro. I’ll be your host,” Having enjoyed such an expensive meal for free, one that had cost several tens of thousands, Xu Tingsheng felt that this was the least he should do.

“Will you be up to it?” Old Jin asked bluntly.

“I’ll do my best. Even treating Old Bro to a bowl of noodles would be a form of hosting, right?” Xu Tingsheng smiled.

“Interesting. Just based on what you’ve said, I’ll definitely come look for you,” Old Jin replied happily.

As the lift was about to ascend, pressing the ‘open’ button, Old Jin turned over to look at him, yelling, “Oh, right, tomorrow…let’s have fun together again?”

“Hmm? We’ll see, I guess,” Xu Tingsheng forced a smile, “I really don’t think I can drink much more.”

Then, he waved goodbye.

As Xu Tingsheng walked to the door of the hotel, the tour guide chased after him rather timidly, tugging lightly on his arm before she asked softly, “Hello, you must be here on tour too? Please, can I ask something of you?”

Xu Tingsheng asked, “What?”

The tour guide said, “I’d like for you to not bring him running around all over the place. I’ve been half-frightened to death these past few days.”

Xu Tingsheng was rendered speechless as he thought: You’ve got it wrong, lady! It’s clearly him who brought me randomly running around all over the place today!

He thought of how Old Jin had been today. Despite not knowing a word of English at all, he had been blatantly unconcerned about anything at all as it really seemed like there was nothing that he dared not try. Based on that, he appeared truly able to relaxedly bring his son throughout the entirety of France on his own.

Ten, twenty years ago, everyone had been testing the waters and looking for a way to cross the river in a golden age of entrepreneurship. It could not be denied that there had truly been many people who had dauntlessly ventured out like this then and ultimately succeeded in their efforts.

Old Jin should have started out on such a journey in his teens, having luckily and necessarily been one of those who had seen success.

This had been decided by his dauntless, adventurous personality.

In contrast, some people would study for decades and get a Master’s degree in university. Next, they would feel troubled by this, feel awkward with that. Out in society, they were still, in truth, really very much incompetent as compared to their parents who had not received a lot of education and weren’t even fluent in the common tongue.

Seeing the tour guide’s big eyes on her tear-stained face that was full of makeup, Xu Tingsheng smiled, “Relax, I definitely won’t cause trouble for you. You just focus on keeping an eye on him yourself.”

While he had clearly spoken amiably, the tour guide ended up breaking down with that as she held her face and knelt down on the ground, “I…I can’t stop him from leaving…wah…gone in a flash, gone in a flash, not even answering his calls. There weren’t any like him before…others who’re overseas normally all follow very closely, afraid of getting lost.”

Logically speaking, tour guides should generally be experienced and well versed in the ways of the human heart. Even if she wasn’t able to handle Old Jin, she still shouldn’t be crying like this.

Xu Tingsheng appraised the girl carefully. She was a pretty, delicate and timid thing, not looking very much experienced at all. He asked, “You’re new to this tour guide thing?”

The girl first shook her head, but eventually nodded as she explained, “I’m not a full-time tour guide. I’m an exchange student here in Nice. Because the school fees and my living expenses are so high, I work part-time once in a while, helping out at the tour agency and acting as a tour guide to earn some money and upkeep myself. This, this is my third time.”

Not a full-time tour guide, this being her third time…and she had encountered Old Jin. This girl really was very unlucky.

“Well, good luck then,” Xu Tingsheng considered the matter, finding that there really wasn’t any solution that he could think of as he simply wished her good luck and exited the hotel, standing by the street as he waited for a taxi.

Taxis weren’t very good to hail at this timing. After a while, the tour guide came over again. She stood beside Xu Tingsheng, looking at him.

“What is it?” Xu Tingsheng asked.

“I just thought of a way you can help me,” The tour guide said awkwardly.

“So, what is it?” Xu Tingsheng could only ask.

“Did you come alone?”

“Yes.”

“Then, how about you travel together with our tour group from tomorrow onwards? I can introduce things to you, and you can also ask me if there is anything. I won’t charge you anything. I can see that you and him have a very good relationship. With you around, he probably won’t run off.”

“Travelling with a tour group is restrictive,” Xu Tingsheng straight out refused without even thinking, “Also, I wouldn’t be able to stop him anyway. In fact, I’d probably end up running off with him.”

The tour guide was depressed for a few seconds before her eyes suddenly lit up, “That’s fine too! If you run off with him, even if I can’t find him, I’d at least be able to find you. Is that okay? You can follow the tour group, and you can go off on your own too.”

Xu Tingsheng asked, “Can’t you just find someone in the tour group to move about with him?”

“He doesn’t enjoy their company.”

“…”

“Please help me out. I’m really afraid of something happening.”

Xu Tingsheng hesitated for a bit before he asked, “Where are you scheduled to go tomorrow?”

“Mainly around Nice’s Old Town.”

Having originally been planning to tour Nice’s Old Town the next day anyway, Xu Tingsheng said, “Well, okay. Call me tomorrow morning. Still, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be following you people around all day. If I feel bored, I’ll just go off on my own.”

“Yes, okay,” The tour guide said emotionally, “My name is Gu Ying, and my phone number is…”

The two exchanged handphone numbers. Since one of his phones would be turned off most of the time, Xu Tingsheng simply gave Gu Ying the number of his old Libei phone which was never turned off.

He took a taxi back to his hotel.

Inebriated from all the alcohol he had drunk, Xu Tingsheng did not turn on his phone that night.

Falling into a deep slumber, Xu Tingsheng was rudely awoken the next morning by Gu Ying’s call. The tour group of over forty people waited for him for more than twenty minutes before setting off for Nice’s Old Town.

Xu Tingsheng soon regretted his decision. Travelling with a tour group really did feel terrible. It was really noisy with so many people around as he was unable to calm down and relax, feeling as if he was rushing around wherever he went. Yet, Old Jin seemed extraordinarily patient today and in a great mood as well as he chatted with Xu Tingsheng all throughout, leaving him unable to simply leave just like that.

Fortunately, Gu Ying who wore a black sweater and jeans made for a rather pleasant sight that day, and her narrative abilities were not bad as well. Most importantly, Nice’s Old Town did truly have a unique flavour as well as deep history and background.

From architecture of the Baroque period to churches of the Rococo era, from the sculptures of the Ancient Greeks to the relic sites of the Renaissance, Nice’s Old Town possessed a mix of Italian, Western and French flair, stimulating the senses of its tourists in the subtlest manner.

The Ancient Rome-style streets with cobbled pavements which were mottled alongside the passing of the ages-while it was clearly the sound of your own footsteps, it sounded like a medieval greeting from way back in the Middle Ages.

Xu Tingsheng who had majored in history in his previous life really liked this sort of feeling.

Besides the legacies of history, virtually every family in this city grew plants on their windowsills. Even though it wasn’t the season for flowers, the entire town was filled with the vitality of life as a result.

Squinting and gazing far into the distance, one would be able to see the famous Alps.

Nice was beautiful.

In the afternoon, the tour agency had reserved meals. Xu Tingsheng was not thick-skinned enough to enter with them as he decided to look for food elsewhere on his own, bidding them farewell while he was at it.

After settling the tour members down, Gu Ying came out and found Xu Tingsheng, “Thank you. Well…how about I treat you to lunch?”

Xu Tingsheng asked, “Oh? You treat me?”

Gu Ying said rather flusteredly, “I just want to express my gratitude. I can’t afford anything too good. How about I treat you to Italian dough dumplings, Gnocchi? It’s actually delicious, really.”

Xu Tingsheng was deeply drawn in by this Gnocchi which was a Chinese-Western combination. He decided to give it a try.

In the end, it really was just dough dumplings with potato pieces added inside.

Still, the flavour and taste were not bad.

After eating, Xu Tingsheng paid the bill without question. He was really unable to accept being treated to a meal by a girl who still had to work part-time for her school fees. Gu Ying stood by the side, opening her bag and retrieving a small handful of small change with a very awkward expression on her face.

Xu Tingsheng smiled, asking, “Considering Old Jin’s personality, he would surely have given you tips?”

Gu Ying said troubledly, “He offered me some a few times, but I, I didn’t dare to accept them.”

Xu Tingsheng understood at once from her expression, “Scared that he has ulterior motives?”
Gu Ying hesitated for a bit but still nodded in the end.

“Encountered such people before, have you?”

“…Yeah.”

“Old Jin’s fine. Just take the money.”

“…He doesn’t seem like a good person.”

“Right. Still, if he really wanted to bed you, he would say it straight to your face before splashing money at you. Since he never said this, it means that he doesn’t want to. So, just relax and take his tips. It’d be a waste not to.”

As he spoke of Old Jin, the man himself came over with little Jinshan, exclaiming as he saw Gu Ying, “You’re not bad. Even I freaking forgot, but luckily, you still remembered to take care of my young bro.”

With that, he casually grabbed a 20 Euro bill and passed it over.

Gu Ying’s family could not be considered wealthy. Her parents had even mortgaged the flat so that she could study overseas. As for this current job of hers, it had passed a few hands before she had finally managed to get it, this being a rare allocation for her. In truth, one time as a tour guide also did not pay all that well.

Gu Ying was still rather hesitant as she cast a glance at Xu Tingsheng beside her.

Old Jin added a 50.

Xu Tingsheng gave her a slight nod.

With her head lowered, Gu Ying extended a hand and accepted the money, bowing deeply, “Thank you.”

Old Jin said pointedly, “That’s right! If I give it to you, just take it. What’s there to be afraid of! Like I’d want to bed you…let’s first not say that I’ve my son with me, even if I didn’t, with this whole country of Western chicks, I also wouldn’t want your type. Really, nothing to see at all.”

Gu Ying’s face was flushed beetroot red.

Being used to acting coarsely as he did not have the sensitivity to consider Gu Ying’s feelings, Old Jin turned towards Xu Tingsheng without noticing anything at all, “Wouldn’t you say so too, young bro Xu?”

Xu Tingsheng declared firmly, “You’re right.”

Her face all red, Gu Ying had tears in her eyes as she felt like she had been bullied. She looked down at the ground, not daring to let Xu Tingsheng and Old Jin see it.

Like father, like son. Little Jinshan earnestly nodded, saying, “Right. Really nothing to see at all.”

Old Jin slapped him, “And what do you know?”

In the afternoon, Old Jin, little Jinshan and Xu Tingsheng ran off again. Xu Tingsheng was to discover three things:

Firstly, being together with people like Old Jinshan and acting based on his line of thought was really awesome indeed. He was never conflicted or hesitant at all.

Secondly, though Old Jin clearly did not understand anything at all, as he brought Xu Tingsheng gallivanting about, he was always able to find some fun, interesting places.

The three gallivanted till nighttime.

Night in Nice was even more enchanting and colourful. The lamps glowed brightly against the backdrop of that bustling nightlife. Waves lightly patted the shore as the city was filled with colourful neon lights. Amidst the darkness of the night, the hustle and bustle formed a conspicuous yet perfect contrast with the tranquility of the surrounding landscape.

Walking along the Promenade des Anglais, they arrived by the Baie des Anges.

The three of them chose a small restaurant by the seafront to have dinner. The tables were laid out right on the shore, the mock silver utensils on the clean white tablecloths seemingly glowing beneath the rays of the setting sun.

Old Jin handed over the task of ordering food to Xu Tingsheng this time.

Xu Tingsheng communicated with a waiter whose English was rather good, no longer wasting money as he ordered five to six dishes, including Salade Nicoise, French-style baked lobster with butter as well as naturally, the big crab that little Jinshan liked so much.

As for alcohol, Xu Tingsheng really dared not drink any more with Old Jin. He also could not bear to see little Jinshan becoming a hardcore alcoholic at such a young age. In the end, he simply ordered the blueberry wine and apple wine that the restaurant had personally brewed.

Not long into their meal, Gu Ying called Xu Tingsheng’s phone, asking him where they were.

Xu Tingsheng said, “Just take care of the other tourists. No need to be concerned about us.”

Gu Ying said, “Because walking on the mountain slopes today was really too tiring, the other tourists are basically all resting in the hotel. I can almost knock off already. I only need to see when you guys will return.”

Old Jin took the phone over, telling her, “Ya stop hurrying us! You come over you want. We will treat you to dinner.”

Then, he returned the phone to Xu Tingsheng, letting him tell Gu Ying the address. After giving that English address, Xu Tingsheng told her, “You don’t have to come here if you don’t want to. No need to force yourself. I’ll send them back later.”

In the end, less than half an hour had passed when Gu Ying arrived.

By the Baie des Anges, any woman would look better than usual. Also, Gu Ying appeared to have specially dressed herself up somewhat for the occasion. Xu Tingsheng and little Jinshan both offered her words of praise.

Gu Ying appeared very nervous with that.

Old Jin found a new person to make drink wine with. Fortunately, fruit wine didn’t have very high alcoholic content.

It was Xu Tingsheng who paid the bill for this meal.

After taking a taxi back to their hotel and formally bidding Old Jin and his son goodbye, agreeing to meet back in the country, Xu Tingsheng was just about to leave after they had gone upstairs.

Yet, Gu Ying who was rather tipsy from all the wine asked, “Can you accompany me upstairs?”

Xu Tingsheng asked, “It can’t be that you want to bed me?”

Gu Ying frantically shook her head, taking out her phone and showing Xu Tingsheng some text messages. Glancing at these briefly, Xu Tingsheng discovered that some tourist in his forties had been harassing Gu Ying. The contents of the messages became increasingly direct as even a price had been directly offered.

The latest message had only just been sent. It read: Little sis, you aren’t in your room? I’ll be waiting for you at the door then.

Xu Tingsheng asked, “What’re you afraid of? Just sue him at most.”

Gu Ying hesitated for a bit before saying, “I wouldn’t be able to get work in this line anymore.”

Xu Tingsheng held out his arm.

Gu Ying looked blankly at him.

“Arm inside. I’ll accompany you up.”

“…Yeah.”

The two got on the lift and went upstairs. Gu Ying’s room was actually much worse than those of the other tourists. It was just a small room, before which was indeed standing a rather disturbing looking middle-aged man.

Xu Tingsheng had seen him that morning, and he had seen Xu Tingsheng together with Old Jin too.

Old Jin, this ‘reincarnated demon king’, was actually thought by all the other tourists in the tour group to be extremely terrifying. Having been hanging out with him, Xu Tingsheng appeared a little hard to grasp as well, thereby being someone he dared not provoke.

After smiling and exchanging greetings, Xu Tingsheng indicated Gu Ying’s arm that was hooked around his with his gaze, saying, “Sorry, but I got her first.”

As they talked, Gu Ying opened the door of her room.

Xu Tingsheng directly entered the room after her.

A few minutes later, Xu Tingsheng said, “He should be gone?”

Gu Ying said, “Yeah.”

“If anything happens again, just look for Old Jin.”

“Alright.”

“I’ll be going then.”

As Xu Tingsheng walked to the door, Gu Ying asked from behind him, “Oh, by the way…”

“What?”

“We’ll be going to Arles tomorrow. Will you be going there too?”

Xu Tingsheng considered it, then replied, “Nah, I’m not going.”

“Oh,” Gu Ying thought for a moment before asking, “Will you still be in Nice for a few more days then?”

“Probably.”

“After touring Arles tomorrow, they’ll be heading elsewhere, led by a professional tour guide of the agency. I’ll be returning to Nice the day after tomorrow,” Gu Ying ventured rather nervously, “What I mean is-if you’ll be alone after this, would you need a guide? I wouldn’t charge you, just like how I would a friend or ex-classmate who came over to play.”

Xu Tingsheng laughed, “Actually, I came to Nice to be alone for a couple of days. When you’re back, you should really just properly attend lessons in school.”

Sometimes, it was very easy to encounter someone else.

Sometimes, farewells were really very simple as well.

The probability of meeting again was low indeed.
……

Back in his hotel room, Xu Tingsheng turned on his handphone.

The first call he had received was rather unexpected. It was from Zhang Xingke.


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