Sounds rather like an Underworld track, doesn’t it. Or maybe that’s just my slightly hazy decent music influenced way of thinking right now, but more on Underworld later.
So, I’ve been back on British soil for almost exactly two weeks. Now seems like a good point to make a post on here, it has been a while afterall. For the record, it doesn’t feel like two weeks. Nothing like it, nothing like it at all. Double that and you’re still not close; I think this says a lot about how great of a time I had out there. In fact, it’s been a real drag getting back into the swing of things. Anyhow, I’m back now so time to smile, nod and just get on with what needs to be done. The good times were great, and no matter how much work I have to do they wont fade from memory, so it’s not at all bad.
How was it? Well…
Let’s start at the top, well almost. Ignoring the fact I landed in Hong Kong for an evening as that’s a bit irrelevant since I returned later, Beijing was first. *Culture shock*. Wow. So you get off the train and it’s complete and utter chaos, people everywhere, cars everywhere, the noise, the smells, sensory overload. That’s Dongzhimen station for you. The odd thing being, this is quite accessible for the Western tourist; leave this area and it all changes, lots. Now I won’t ramble on too much, I find pictures speak more than words, just like the age old saying. So head on over to my Flickr page (when I get the photos uploaded). However, imagine that you can’t speak to anyone because they wont understand you, you can’t understand them either, you can’t read anything, nothing makes any sense, you don’t even know what all these shops are. Yehhh, that’s China. It’s nuts. That said, it was an experience that I’m very glad to have had; it may not be one I want to repeat any time soon though. The bureaucracy, my god, that’s ridiculous – for anyone that doesn’t believe me, you so much as try and transfer through PEK airport, then you’ll understand. I have more stamps than the Royal Mail…
Things I learnt in China:
- Expect the unexpected.
- You will encounter things like boiled duck/rabbit heads, shark and turtle on the menu.
- Don’t cross the road with earphones in. You will almost certainly die – I learnt by the third occasion.
- Ignore the world, concentrate on what you’re doing.
- Don’t question, and certainly don’t question out loud.
- Be aware that everywhere you go you will see a dozen PLA vans.
- That the police don’t give a shit about anyone, regardless of age, what’s happened, or who’s seen it.
- That if the police are there (yes, them again) then everyone else is powerless, or woe betide them. – Fear doesn’t breed contempt, it breeds uncertainty and complacency.
- Drink lots of water.
- If you find someone trying to sell you a waving Chairman Mao watch, buy it because you might not get another chance.
- That Mao is everywhere, yes everywhere. Yes even there. He’s watching you. Yes, even when you’re doing that. He knows all.
Leaving China was a pleasant experience. When you first land you (well I did anyway) have this feeling of “oops, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew here” as you breeze past the military outposts by the runway filled with troops. So when you board a Korean Air aircraft with it’s big comfy seats, decent entertainment system and pleasant cartoon characters, colour and general happiness it feels damn good. Like really good!
Cool. Just cool. Lovely welcome at the airport, everyone is so friendly! Even customs. You board a coach, and it’s got massive leather seats, they recline too. You sit back and watch some super brightly coloured tv programme on the massive tv that’s on the coach, watching the bright neon lights go past. Bliss. You arrive in Daegu, and ok it’s humid but getting a taxi is easy; they even comprehend what you’re on about, or at least where you want to go. Everywhere is relaxed, the roads are civilised and ordered (unlike Beijing) and it’s colourful too. I know I’m harping on about the colour, and yes Beijing was colourful, but this is so different – it’s colourful because they want it to be colourful and it’s neon too. Anyway, I got across Daegu fine and dandy and was welcomed by Cat which was ace, I’m sure you may realise. A British person who understands my Northern accent, bliss! Anyway, yes caught a taxi all by myself, clever boy all growed up.
I’ll write more later, let’s face it that’s only the first part of the journey. It is however late and I want to sleep. I’m testing my next participant in a matter of hours afterall, ugh!