Friday, 25 May 2007

Day #2 China - first impressions

I hit the floor limping in China. My preparation was piss poor and led to pathetic performance as the saying goes. It took me the best part of five hours to get from the airport to my youth hostel. This included the privilege of paying a taxi driver to take me round an Authentic Veijing block. Quite pricey it was, too.

I very nearly went into McDonald's on the evening but I managed to swerve into a Chinese place at the last minute. I did manage to drink some Soya Milk and was pleasantly surprised by how nice it was. Maybe these Vegans do know what they are talking about, after all. The noodle soup was good, the rice-tube-with-deep-fried-stuff-in-the-middle was less appetising.

The evening ended with Chinese whiskey, which comes in a green bottle like Night Nurse, the cough medicine. The similarity does not stop there; it continues through taste and smell, too. Likewise, drinking even a small bottle to yourself can put you under for a good while. I had a small portion of a bottle to myself. "Nice," I thought, as choked down it's 55% of alkiness. Head hits pillow.

The next day I had but one main agenda. Pay for my train ticket and see a little of Beijing. I headed out early to the offices of Monkey Business, my travel company. Apart from a little difficulty changing travelers cheques*, everything was hunky dory and they even gave me a polo-shirt and a guide book for on my way around the places that I would be stopping.

I had a quick look around on my way back. I had a quick look into the Forbidden city and the gate with Mao on it. Here are what I think are the photo highlights for that day. Enjoy!

Oh, those kooky Chinese government-types with their family planning condom pictures. There was another one with the family treasuring their only child and thanking their lucky stars that they didn't have more.

I'm quite interested in graffiti, and this example caught my eye just outside the Monkey Business office.

Amidst the dust and detritus, the hurtling trucks and busses, this off down a little side-street.

Osaka to Liverpool, day -4 or so

This is the first part of my retrospective of my journey from Japan to the UK. It seems like a god idea to fill you all in on the background before I launch into the whole palaver of getting across the landmass.

In the space of just over five years I had gone from being a bemused graduate of the Microbiological Arts, through purveyor of English at a high-street corporate conveyor-belt operation, distracter of children and occasional language tutor and into the much more apt role of unemployee. I was in Japan. I was an English man. I was nearly broken but free and intact.

Let me gloss over the rapidly replaced passport and slide past the six trips to Osaka, needed to obtain Visas. Doubtless it would have been easier to get a visa card, as Tricky tells me it isn't hard nowadays. I was nearly packed, had almost boxed or binned my gear: One for the postman, three for the dustman. It was something like that ratio, anyway. Likewise, I will spend little time on the farewells, sincere or otherwise. There is just one big ups to Kenny, whose site is here and is a master of the needle and thread. He makes stuff from old kimonos. Have a look at his site.

So I was packed, ready to go and I had four days left in the realm. I went to bed.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

The dust is settling...

So here I am in Poland, in beautiful, sunny, humid and muggy Krakow.

I actually quite like the look of the place. There are lots of old churches that are nice to look at and not go to. There is a huge square where the beers are massively priced at half what they would cost in England. Shopping is cheap, travel is cheaper. The people are very friendly and always deign answer my English in lieu of an Polish.

I've started my course. I'm glad to say the course is challenging and different to what I had done before. I was a little worried, before I came, that I was wasting a month and about a thousand pounds in fees and living expenses. In fact, I am being taught a bunch of stuff which will augment and extend what I already know. Great news.

This narrative was supposed to be mostly about my travels from Japan to Liverpool and there is some good news on that front, too. We have found, treated with, warred with and defeated the wireless router we found in the flat. All being well, the story begins from the beginning sometime tonight or tomorrow.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Interim message

New times call for new blogs - the old part of my life is over, the new not yet begun. This is about the bits in between.

Soon to be released:

Retrospectives of my journey through Asia and Europe.
Running commentary on my CELTA course in Poland.
Details of introducing the missus to life in England (terror).

and many more gripping and exciting things for you delectation.