Saturday, 1 October 2011

猴子好吃桃子 (1)

Beijing: The summer is over; back to work. I do not promise (threaten?) to post every day in future; perhaps two or three times a week. For the first few posts a summary of my adventures so far in the Middle Kingdom.

25th Aug, Hong Kong: London-Dubai-Bangkok-Hong Kong. Not the quickest route, but the most luxurious on a limited spend. Emirates has the advantages of subsidised fuel, good food, willing hostesses (a sharp rebuke to the sour bats who make up BA's cabin crew nowadays) and an Airbus 380, easily the largest and most comfortable plane I have flown in.

An interesting interlude: with 3 hours to kill in Dubai airport before my connection I headed to the bar for a quick G&T or four. There I got chatting to an English debt collector who was on his way to Malaysia to join the wife and young 'un. 

I remarked that business must be booming but he grimaced, 'Not really. Back in the day it was easy to collect. Most people we called had the money and could be pressured into coughing up. These days they really are broke: getting cash out of them is like getting blood out of a stone.'

I made suitably sympathetic noises; even a debt collector's woes can bring a gin-induced tear.

At Hong Kong airport the woman I had wooed for a few weeks was not there! Stood up! I checked my QQ; she would instead meet me in Shenzhen in two days. My aching balls! Fortunately Angel, plan B, was just a phone call away. I explained I had had to change flights at the last minute. Delighted, she rushed to meet me, and there followed a very pleasant evening of dining (fish, chicken feet), drinking, dancing and the old in-out.

26th Aug: Angel was less than delighted to learn that I would be going into China the next day. She tried to persuade me to stay, arguing that Hong Kong was much safer and more civilised than the mainland. I calmed her down by telling her I'd be back soon enough, and there followed another hedonistic day and night of dining, drinking...

27th Aug, Shenzhen: After a crowded border crossing I was on the mainland and celebrated by buying a packet of 中南海, walking into a restaurant and lighting up. Mainland China is one of the few places left where a coffin-nail addict can still indulge himself almost everywhere. God but I've missed it: the smells, the crowds, the endless parade of almond-eyed beauties with come-hither smiles, the sheer dynamism of the place compared with ennui-ridden Europe and high-rise, medieval Gulf.

And Communism! I can forgive, as a pragmatic necessity, the regrettable right-deviationist policies followed by the Party since 1976. As I smoke I find myself humming 沒有共產黨就沒有新中國:

At school, many years ago, when I espoused left-wing ideas, some of the more original wits would suggest that I moved to Russia. Unfortunately the Party there lost power before I was able to follow their advice; I hope they are satisfied now.

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