What will I take from China? Difficult one.
I’ll never forget the smog. The air here is thick, and hot. Even at 9am, its hot here. Maybe we’ve been lucky with the weather though.
The roads? The drivers here are mental. They don’t drive so much as take aim. Weaving in and out, blasting horns and speeding about the place, they are on a mission, in the race of life. And the constant horns, they’ll stay with me for a while yet.
Writes Tim Watson…
The taxis too, I’ll remember those. Getting off a train and being hassled by unlicensed taxis. The drivers haggled with us right up until the point we boarded a proper taxi, for a fraction of their original price.
The language. Its barrier and how we overcame it. I’ll remember that, not so much what they said, as I couldn’t make sense of that in the first place, but the sheer speed at which they talk, the intensity and how we got around it every time with stupid imitations of what we needed.
And the words I’ve learned. Ni xi huan wo de tou fa ma? Do you like my hair?
The hair. A bright pink Mohawk that I was warned would get myself in so much trouble, made me the talk of the campus, the centre of attention and everyone’s friend. I’ll miss the hair, but the people and their reaction more.
The people here as well, they are so generous, warm, open and friendly. They will help you. Even if they don’t at first, they will in the end.
The markets. I won’t forget them and how a guy started at 500 yuan for a fake Breitling watch and ended up selling it for a 10th of that. “Fifty”. And the fake money I got in change.
The food. Not knowing what I’m eating and the fact it costs literally pence. Beef curry, rice and 2 big bottles of beer for £2.50. Or as happened one night, for free.
I’ll remember how everywhere I went people took photos, how we got on two scooters to get a taxi, the 220mph train, the F1, the white lake, the size, the beauty, the heat and the complete lack of phones and Facebook and how, no matter what happened, everything was fine and we always ended up laughing.
I think the one thing I will never forget is the not knowing. Not knowing what they are saying, what we are eating, where we are going, what were going to do if things go wrong. What tomorrow will hold, what tonight will hold for that matter. Everyday, you learn something here, voluntary or involuntary, but the one thing I will always remember is how this place has gave me oppurtunities that I’ll never have again. Everything somehow comes together and just works, and for me, that is the best description of China I can give.
I think what I’m going to miss most is being here. China: there’s no place like it.