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A River And Twelve Angry Men
浏览次数:387次 更新时间:2020-12-01

By Xiangjun



A scam

Not that long ago, twenty-two years ago, Tibet was far away. The rare flood in 1998 raged in the plateau. The cars were jammed due to the mudslides along the way. A few men, who were covered in dirt, were anxious and jumped out of the vehicle. They walked on the muddy road and tried to get to Lhasa as soon as possible.

 

Whether it was because of enthusiasm or blindness, rafting on the Yangtze River in 1986 was a magnificent undertaking that lifted the nation's spirit. But how a small boat could carry the national righteousness? After seventeen people were killed in an accident, an interdict was issued, indicated that rafting was not welcomed. Rafting, which was getting popular, became unnoticeable and had been unnoticeable for ten years.

 

Twelve years later, in February 1998, with many government officials, a group in Chongqing claimed that a Chinese would be rafting through the Brahmaputra River for the first time in July. They said this rafting would be more epic than the rafting in Tiger Leaping Gorge of Yangtze Rive and more thrilling than Ke Shouliang drove across Yellow River.

 

"The committee's description was crazy, and they said that thousands of people would greet the warriors in Lhasa. Tibetan damsels would dance, Lamas would pray, and people would play trombones for them. At the beginning of the journey down the memory lane, Li Hong sighed, "back then, there were no cellphones or internet, and people were gullible. Who would've thought the outcome was catastrophic in the end."

 

A group of abandoned people

The omen of something was wrong appeared early. During group training, the committee gave them team uniforms of low quality and did not provide them with enough food, so many team members were woken up in the middle of the night by hunger. They tried to feedback once it became unbearable, but the committee's response was, "if you can not bear this rough situation, how can you go to Tibet?"

 

Twenty days of group training was about to end, but the committee had not arranged anything. "There is no fund." "It is about to be canceled..." There were many whispers, and everyone was lost. They were scheduled to go home by train at the end of June, but Luo Hao couldn't sit and do nothing, so he said, "it can not end like this!"

"Laoyao, we can raise funds ourselves, and everyone can donate 5,000 CNY." During the stalemate, Yang Yong and Feng Chun, who were more experienced, decided to do it by themselves after discussion. But they did not want to give up the team members, so they gathered together again in Chengdu. The lost committee reappeared again too. After a heated negotiation, the outcome was that the team would go to Lhasa slowly while the committee tried to raise money again. They had no choice but to believe the committee one more time.

 

But Luo Hao still underestimated people's minds. Twenty-seven days later, Luo Hao got a phone call and Yang Yong, who was always calm, raised his voice. "This thing may be going to fell apart, and we won't be able to go," There was a flood that summer, so fundraising was more difficult. The committee, which did not have any funds, decided the team would be disbanded, and they would try again next year.

 

"It is irritating." Luo Hao, who had already quit, decide to leave tomorrow. "They can not get it done, but can they stop us from going? We will have to do something!" He took a plane to Lhasa on the second day and started to get border permits for Brahmaputra Rafting Team members. He reunited with his teammate in a simple guest house. All his teammates had to sleep on the floor, and they were all disappointed.

 

He would not back down, but the teammates could decide whether to stay or leave themselves. Facing the United Statement that stated all team members would leave the committee and a safety waiver, eight people left while twenty people signed the papers. All the members voted that Yang Yong would be the team leader, Feng Chun, Li Hong, and Luo Hao would be the team committee.

 

On August 28th, they set off from the Potala Palace Square. But the driver thought they were abandoned. The rage united these twenty people, who refused to back down, though they had nothing. They went not only for rafting, but they were like driven to revolt, and they wanted to take justice in their own hands.

 

 

Illegal rafter

Lhasa was just the beginning, and after ten days of traveling, members of the Brahmaputra Rafting Team arrived at the origin of Brahmaputra River, Chemayungdung Glacier. Standing in front of the silver meltwater of glacier in the wilderness 5,000 meters above sea level, the men covered in dust and started to yell and hug each other with tears after a momentary silence. It had been three months after their group had trained in June, and they never thought they would fight people, but thankfully they had arrived.

 

On September 8th, the flag of Brahmaputra Rafting Team was floating in the wind, and four red rubber boats lined up in from the glacier. Secretary Puqiong of Zhongba County Government bid farewell enthusiastically, and the team members were preparing for departure busily. But a Mitsubishi police car arrived suddenly, and police said that the county government got a call from a person with a Sichuan accent. The call said that Brahmaputra Rafting Team was illegal, so the counties and cities along the river would not welcome them, and the 99 Brahmaputra Rafting Team was the authentic one.

 

The Tibetan officials were astonished, so were the team members who were preparing. They thought that they had left it all behind, but the fight had not been over yet. "What is the 99 Brahmaputra Rafting Team? Are they going to use the tile of first rafting to con other people the next year?"

 

Anger was also motivation. Twelve years ago, men who rafted through the Yangtze River wanted to beat the Americans and be the first ones. In 1998, Brahmaputra River welcomed its first challengers, but the challengers' motivation was stopping the committee from getting its way. These two groups fought for their pride, but the group twelve years ago fought for national pride, while the other groups fought for their pride.

 

 



Gate to hell

The committee haunted them, and the silhouette of death was approaching as well. After they left the mild water region, the Brahmaputra River started to show its power. Kangnai Gorge is between Saga County and Lazi County. One research showed that the fall was 30 meters high, while the other one showed that the fall was 150 meters, and both sides of the rivers were too steep to have assistance from the shore. If the latter information was accurate, then it was as dangerous as Tiger Leaping Gorge of Yangtze River.

 

"Hope the information is wrong." Yang Yong, who experienced the Yangtze River accident that cost ten people's lives, was nervous. Lao Yao found two huge wood sticks and prepared to tie two boats together to charge the dangerous rapids. They decided to be cautious, and twelve people used two boats during this period.

 

The road ahead of them was unpredictable. Two boats that carried twelve people dropped into the gorge like a blown-off kite. Their original plan was seven days on the water, but they were behind schedule. Shui Xiaojie stayed beside the river every day, and all he wanted was for his teammate to appear, but he was also afraid of seeing his teammates' belongings. He thought about the Yangtze River's rafting, which woke his young enthusiastic blood. "Why did they go knowing they could die?" He had no answers.

 

"Rafting or not?" Deep in the gorge, the twelve people pioneer squad was facing a life or death choice. Two giant mountains were like giant doors, Brahmaputra River narrowed rapidly and disappeared into the crack. Yang Yong, who was enjoying charging the dangerous rapids, yelled, "Feng Laoyao, let's just charge in." "No, we had to wait and see."

 

A few hours later, few team committee members climbed on the cliff and saw the deep Kangnai Gorge. The white waves were roaring, and dangerous rapids were one after the other. A fourth level one after a fifth level one after a sixth level one. Laoyao's hairs on the back of the neck stood up, "thank goodness we stopped; if we charged the gate of death, the Brahmaputra Rafting Team would be extinguished."

 

"That was a close call because it is another Tiger Leaping Gorge." Yang Yong gasped, but they were conflicted. Their equipment was too simple, and if they rafted through the Brahmaputra River, someone would definitely die. According to the international rule, they could cross the dangerous rapids by carrying the boat. But given the condition of Brahmaputra rafting, other people could use it against them. "For someone, only death could prove the difficulty, only death was thrilled enough, and only death could prove something..."

 

This conflict appeared twelve years ago during the rafting at the Tiger Leaping Gorge of Yangtze River. "Knowing there would be death, why do we go?" The audience may think this was an exciting final battle, but they found it torturing for those who had experienced it firsthand.

 

 

Running out of supply

Over a month ago, on their way to the origin, Miss Tang, who was the representative of a media company, suddenly asked to leave at Saga County. They needed to travel across thousands of acres of wildness if they took her back, and return would cost them a week, and the hope of rafting through the Brahmaputra River would be slimmer. The group of men begged for a long time, but the only response was, "I can ask the company to withdraw anytime."

 

After hearing this, gentle Zhang Tao spitted on the ground and charged towards the representative, but his teammates stopped him by hugging his waist and covered his mouth when he tried to curse. "We can not risk rafting through the Brahmaputra for a small matter."

 

"We were threatened and humiliated by some woman because we did not have any money." Zhang Tao couldn't keep the bitterness he felt all the way down anymore, and he started to cry. All of them were aggrieved and kept feeling down. After charging through the life-threateningly dangerous rapids, the shadow of funds found them again, and they ran out of supplies. At that time, they all looked away with their eyes red.

 

The end of their dream

A favorable change seemed to happen. There was news that the Chinese Academy of Sciences would lead a team to raft through the Brahmaputra River for the first time by the end of October 1998. The media had a public stunt, and the Brahmaputra suddenly became popular.

 

The river originated from glaciers, and it was over 1,600 meters long. This river carried those men from the west end of the Himalaya to their final crash at the east end.

 

This is the deepest, highest, and longest canyon in the world. The river between Pai County and Motuo County was 213 meters long, and the fall was 2,190 meters high. The roaring waves were strong enough to shatter bones. American explorer once said this river was impossible to raft. In 1993, a Japanese group tried, but seconds they left the shore of Parlung Zangbo tributary, they were drawn to the center, and a member, Takei Yoshitaka, went missing.

 

Their team's equipment was simple, and if they continued, they would undoubtedly be dead. So they hiked around the canyon to survey because they had no other choice.

 

They thought about the scientific survey team, and the teammates were like guerrilla forces, who had fought their way through the siege and hoped to meet Eighth Route Army to have a decent meal. "There were so many journalists, and they will definitely report us, then people all around China will know this team of nongovernmental rafting explorers."

 

They thought they were comrades with the official team, but they were again too naive. After fifty days of fighting, their simple boat finally arrived at the end of the water, Pai County. They were in ragged clothes and yelled, "Hello!" But those on the shore mocked them, "this group of people are an unofficial team, and we are the national team. If they hang a white flag, we can recruit them."

 

When Yang Yong visited the scientists, he respected so much with a few bags of Zha Cai, which were all he had, and hoped the scene would be filled with hugs and congratulations, and they would walk in the canyon together. But he did not know that the national team had a meeting and emphasized that they would not contact, promote, nor help the nongovernmental team.

 

Hunger and hope

They were disappointed the whole way, but hunger was more unbearable. Under the threat of food shortage, they only had two meals with porridge and kelp soup per day. After a few days, their food was put together and kept by the carrier, because someone lost control due to hunger, and ate all his food secretly.

 

From the moment they woke up, all they could think of was hunger. There were also countless mountains and never-ending forest. They showered in their sweat, they ran out of energy, so were their stomachs. "They weren't this starving during the raft in Yangtze River." Lived through half of his life, Lao Yao had never suffered so much. Hunger droves them every day, and all they wanted to do was eat after reaching the destination.

 

Whenever it was mealtime, everyone turned to hungry wolves and stood beside a bowl of kelp soup. They were so starving that it seemed like they could eat with their eyes. "Leader Yang, is it done?" "What's the rush?" Yang Yon, who was the chef, was like a father to them. Everyone held their bowl and waited for rations like refugees. Every one of them only had three spoons of porridge, and they were afraid of the team leader's hands would shake.

 

On the twelfth day, they ran out of rice, and all they could eat every meal was two Zanba (roasted qingke barley flour) as big as an egg. They no longer had porridge, but the no-man zone was endless. Starvation was horrible.

 

Starvation made people gave up dignity. One of the team members picked up a piece of wrapper and started to lick. Yang Yong was startled at first, then he felt sad. "He was too hungry." The national team left the food wrappers, and at least three members did the same thing.


  


One last breath

Standing at the pass of West Xingla Mountain, they were going back to society, and they were extremely thrilled like they were going to rebirth. But Yang Yong only felt regret. From this point, Brahmaputra's magical turn would be like a horseshoe and rushed towards the most significant moment, the falls with four different levels which formed magnificent waterfalls.

 

The national team aimed to find a giant waterfall. They had no food, so they had to quit until the reunited with Shui Xiaojie on the road. When they heard the national team found a waterfall, he wanted to see.

 

Standing in front of the gate to hell, he almost died due to thirst after traveling a long distance. He met the national team at Zhaqu, even though all he wanted was some water, the national team turned its back on him. He froze, so was his heart.

 

The indifference became the final blow. At that time, the national team just found Rongzha Falls. "How can the Brahmaputra Rafting Team does not know the information of Brahmaputra River's mainstream? We can not miss the second waterfall." To fight for Brahmaputra Rafting Team with his last breath, he, who just survived, return to the hell-like canyon.

 



No one cheered for them

Climbing down from the truck full of stocks, they arrived at Lhasa for the third time, but these men were more excited than the first time. They all yelled like savages, though they were penniless and did not know how to get home. They were also worried about Shui Xiaojie, who lost contact with them, would be left in the canyon forever.

 

"The minute I saw the highway, My mind broke down completely." Shui Xiaojie, who had almost become crazy due to walking for a long time, finally found the second waterfall. When he saw people again, he could barely take another step. Shui Xiaojie arrived at Lhasa four days later than others, and he was the last one. He was almost lost it, but at least he was alive.

 

On the second day, the morning of December 9th, when they took another group photo at Potala Palace, they were like refugees. Their clothes were all ragged, and some were on crutches. They opened the self-made banner, "Brahmaputra Rafting Team had succeeded!" They threw Yang Yong in the air together.

 

They released their last enthusiasm, but mainly bitterness. Old heroes who used to smile all day cried silently, and it was full of sorrow. "We have given up so much, we don't care whether the history would remember us or not, but we at least deserve some applause."

 

But the quiet square only had some passengers who squinted at them as if they were crazy. From the beginning to the end, only they enjoyed it, and only they cheered for themselves.


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