Welcome to today’s class. We are going to Australia (Ã€odÃ lÃ¬yÇŽ), to go to the beach (hÇŽitÄn). I will talk about beach activities for 40 minutes or so, and then we can discuss the things I’ve talked about before our break (for twenty minutes). In the second part, I will tell you more about some of the beaches of Sydney (XÄ«nÃ) and Perth (PÃ² sÄ«), and we can have another discussion at the end.
Part One: Â Some popular Australian beach activities
Most people in Australia live along the coast (bÄ«n), so the beach plays a key role in their way of life (hÄ“nghuÃ³ fÄngshÃ¬). Children are taught (jiÃ o) to swim from a young age (niÃ¡nqÄ«ng de shÃhÃ²u) so that they will be safe (Ä€nquÃ¡n) in the water, and so they can enjoy (qÇng xiÇŽngyÃ²ng) swimming [yÃ³uyÇ’ng de] and other activities in or on the water.
My brother and sister and I learned to swim when we were young in the 1970s. At that time the method (fÄngfÇŽo) of teaching children was pretty funny (hÄ›n yÇ’uqÃ¹). The school group (xuÃ©xiÃ o zÇ”) was taken (cÇŽiqÇ”) to the deep end (kÃ¹njÃ¬ng) of the swimming pool (yÃ³uyÇ’ngchÃ) and one by one (yÄ«gÃ¨ jiÄ“ yÄ«gÃ¨) the teachers (jiÃ oshÄ«) threw (rÄ“ng) us in. If you floated up (fÃº qÇlÃ¡i) and swam (yÃ³u), they put you in the advanced class (gÄojÃ bÄn). If you sank down (chÃ©nmÃ²) and they had to pull you out (bÇŽ nÇ lÄ chÅ«lÃ¡i), they put you in the beginners class (chÅ« xuÃ©zhÄ› bÄn). I like to think their “sink or swim” (xiÃ chÃ©n huÃ² yÃ³uyÇ’ng) method tells us something about Australian culture (wÃ©nhuÃ ).
We were taught different styles of swimming like the crawl (pÃ¡xÃng), butterfly stroke [hÃºdiÃ© zhÃ²ngfÄ“ng] [ (very difficult), breaststroke [wÄyÇ’ng][ (like a frog, é’è›™), and backstroke (yÇŽngyÇ’ng).
Many Australians like to swim in the ocean (hÇŽiyÃ¡ng). Some people like the surf (chÅnglÃ ng), and enjoy bodysurfing (tÃºshÇ’u chÅnglÃ ng). To body surf well you need to watch and waitÂ (guÄnkÃ n bÃ¬ng dÄ›ngdÃ i) for the wave (bÅ) coming towards the shore (zhÄ«chÄ“ng), waiting for the moment when (nÃ shÃhÃ²u) you think it will peak (dÃ odÃ¡ gÄo diÇŽn) before crashing down (hÅngrÃ¡n dÃ o xiÃ ). That point, the peak, is when you should catch the wave, so you should swim fast to get just in front (Ã i qiÃ¡nmiÃ n) of the wave’s peak, then it will carry you (dÃ i nÇ) along for a ride.
If you swim too slowly (tÃ i mÃ nle), the wave will just pass you by. If you swim too fast (kuÃ isÃ¹), it will “dump” (qÄ«ngdÇŽo) you (which means it will crash down on you, and then you will turn somersaults (fÄn fÄnshÄ“n) through the water on your way to the shore). Also, the shape and size (xÃngzhuÃ ng hÃ© dÃ xiÇŽo) of the wave will affect how good a ride you can enjoy. If the wave is too steep (tÃ i dÇ’u) and falls quickly (xÃ¹nsÃ¹ xiÃ jiÃ ng), it is more likely Â (gÃ¨ng qÄ«ngxiÃ ng yÃº) to dump you. If the wave is too small then you might not get a good ride.
Some swimmers like the board sports (bÇŽn qiÃº yÃ¹ndÃ²ng) that can be enjoyed in the surf. Children and less advanced swimmers like the boogie boards you can use to catch a wave, lying on your belly (dÃ¹pÃ).
Wave skis (bÅlÃ ng huÃ¡xuÄ›) are used by paddling (xÃ¬) in a sitting position and can be used for traveling across flat water or for catching waves.
Surfboards (chÅnglÃ ng bÇŽn) are used by paddling onto the wave belly down on the board, and then getting to your knees (xÄ«gÃ i) and feet to ride the wave. This sport – known as surfing – takes great strength and balance (lÃ¬liÃ ng hÃ© pÃnghÃ©ng). Surfing started as a male sport (yÃ¹ndÃ²ng) but now increasingly includes women.
There are groups of older citizens (lÇŽoniÃ¡n rÃ©n) who love swimming in the ocean and the surf, some of them do this every day of the year regardless of the weather. I remember seeing the gentlemen and ladies of the Cottesloe swimming club (yÃ³uyÇ’ng jÃ¹lÃ¨bÃ¹) standing and chatting (liÃ¡otiÄn de) in the water on a winters day, while I was only brave enough to quickly jump in and out (tiÃ o chÅ«lÃ¡i) again before running home to get warm. These elder swimmers are strong and tough (qiÃ¡ngyÃ¬ng).
All of these surf sports, swimming, surfing, wave-skiing, stand-up boarding, boogie-boarding, and surfing are very good exercise.
People also like to use the beach for running and walking. Running in the soft beach sand is very hard work, and good for making strong legs. Running on the hard sand near the water is much easier, and it’s nice to run or walk through the cool shallow water.
Australian people like to play sports like beach volleyball (shÄtÄn pÃ¡iqiÃº) or beach cricket (shÄtÄn bÇŽn qiÃº) and do activities like yoga and tai-chi on the beach. A beach is a good place for spiritual [jÄ«ngshÃ©n] (or meditative) [chÃ©nsÄ«] practices like yoga (yÃºjiÄ) because it is a very peaceful (nÃngjÃ¬ng) place. The beach is the place where the land, sea, and sky (lÃ¹dÃ¬ hÃ© tiÄnkÅng) meet, and the rhythmic (yÇ’ubÇŽnyÇ’uyÇŽn) sound of the waves crashing is soothing (fÇ”wÃ¨i de).
Part two: ways of enjoying the beauty of the beach
Walking along a beach and picking up the small shells (bÃ¨ikÃ©), sponges (hÇŽimiÃ¡n), corals (shÄnhÃº), and driftwood [fÃº mÃ¹] (flotsam and jetson) is delightful (yÇ) because these small items seem like interesting or beautiful gifts (lÇpÇn) from the sea. Â This is known as beach combing (hÇŽitÄn shÅ«lÇ), which literally (Ã€nzhÃ o zÃ¬miÃ n) means combing the beach for treasures (zhÄ“npÇn).
Different kinds of beaches are good for different activities and different groups of people. Some like a sheltered (bÃ¬fÄ“ng) beach with calm flat water (pÃngjÃ¬ng pÃngtÇŽn de shuÇ), and some like a beach open to the ocean, preferably with a reef (jiÄo) that helps make waves big enough for surf. Two of Sydney’s beautiful beaches – Bondi and Bronte – provide for both groups because each has a sheltered swimming pool next to the ocean’s surf.
Just across the water from my Australian home town Perth is the island of Wadjemup/Rottnest (the first being the name the Noongar people (the Indigenous group) Â of this area gave it, the latter being the name the European explorers gave it). This is a great place for sheltered (bÃ¬fÄ“ng) swimming, surfing, and for under-waterÂ activities like snorkeling (fÃº qiÇŽn) and scuba-diving (shuÇ fÃ¨i qiÃ¡nshuÇ).
Like Wadjemup/Rottnest, Cottesloe beach is great for swimming, surfing, and snorkeling.
On some of the quieter and more remote beaches in Australia, you can meet some of the continent’s interesting animals and birds (dÃ²ngwÃ¹ hÃ© niÇŽo lÃ¨i).
These little marsupials (yÇ’u dÃ i dÃ²ngwÃ¹are) called “quakkas” and they live on Wadjemup/Rottnest (and nowhere else). They look pretty happy and children love to feed them (but shouldn’t). The kangaroos (dÃ ishÇ”) below are much shyer (hÃ ixiÅ«) and unlikely to come near a person in the wild (lÃ ng).
The Pelican (tÃ) can be found on many Australian beaches. This one, on Rottnest’s Thompson Bay, had my nephew and niece (zhÃzi hÃ© zhÃnÇša) little worried (dÄnxÄ«n).
Seagulls (hÇŽi’Åu)Â are also very commonÂ and infamous (chÃ²umÃng zhÄozhÃ¹) for aggressively (jÄ«jÃ) chasing food (you might as well just give it to them).