Into China (day 50)

Now I do not know about you, but to me the prospect of being in China is a pretty crazy one. From where I come from (geographically, but mostly culturally) China is a long way away.

And yet here I am. On a train bound for Shanghai. Haven’t seen any gamblers yet, and Kenny Rogers would most likely be rather put off by the chinese music that blares, klaxon-like, from the numerous radio speakers in every carriage.

I spent most of the 30 hour journey alternately looking out the window (rice, rice, rice, rice, town, rice, rice, rice, rice) and planning my month in China.

I was thinking, alert readers will remember, of going back to Hong Kong after this jaunt to Shanghai (to play some ultimate and see the city). And then coming back into China again and going up and across into Russia.

But it occured to me that this was a silly plan. I would need another Chinese visa and it would be a big back-track. So instead I have planned to take my month around China (Shanghai, taoist mountain, beijing, xian, yangtze river, south-western hangout zone) and get back to Hong Kong towards the end of June.

The reason I need to go back (aside from the desire to replenish my stock of culture in the closest thing to home that one can get in this part of the world) is to grab some stuff. My tent and a few other things that I don’t need currently grace the floor of my friends’ apartment. It is really nice to be able to run up stairs with my backpack on for once.

The chinese night surrounds me. How exciting. I can’t speak a word of Chinese. I can’t read signs. I can’t understand anything anyone says to me. I don’t know what food will be like. I can’t predict where I will stay. And only the good lord himself knows whom I will meet.

But I have a pocket full of the people’s currency, an empty social calendar, a sense of cautious optimism and a tonne of curiousity. What could possibly go wrong?

I am starting to think, on Day 50, about what to do after Russia. I have been offered a job teaching there (in the middle of nowhere, but just about everywhere in Russia is the middle of nowhere). But after that, well, we can figure that out another day.

What did I learn today? The lights go out at 10pm sharp on Chinese trains.