Migrant workers in Beijing.

What you see above is a migrant worker hut. A frame of bamboo or off-cut metal tubing pieces surrounded by sheets of weathered plastic all held together in the hopes it will stay intact till the next morning. There’s basic electricity running to it through thin lines that enable a couple of string lights to illuminate, and a hot plate or two to heat food with. Bedding takes the form of free-stand cots and people are sleeping two or three heads high. Insulation is whatever blanket you can find. Tonight will be about three degrees Celsius, and temperatures are dropping daily.

I was told about two hundred million citizens fill the lower-class title in China. Many were born in the countryside and traded toiling land for turning concrete in hopes of becoming a part of the high-rise economy China is heavily invested in cultivating. In all honesty, I think most of them become a part of the high-rise economy when their overworked bodies are thrown into the churning mixer and poured back into a new building – an oversized tombstone if you will.

It’s mind blowing seeing the vicious treatment of class here, and how it’s controlled. A co-worker and I walked past the building site you see above and wondered why there isn’t any consideration for unions, for outcry, for riots against this unjustness. With over a hundred million people being worked to the bone, the efforts to change their circumstances appeared to us as nonexistent.

We came to this conclusion – if you price basic rights like education and healthcare outside the financial realm of the lower-class, then what little of a bone they’re thrown is enough to drive production forward. More than that, the tiniest increment in finances is enough to give many of these people something more valuable that an extra .20c in the bank account – it gives them hope by providing security for their child. More money means their kid might have a chance at education, at aiming for a better life. Whether that actually works I cannot comment. But by shifting hope to the future, you certainly guarantee the complete obedience of the present day sufferers.

E.

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Shanghai / 上海

As an expat in China, you learn to adopt any and every Western tradition that falls in your calendar, for they become one of the easiest way to be guaranteed a feast that isn’t so saturated in oil and five spices.

Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving/Thanksgivvikuh (seriously America this many names are not necessary) is one such holiday that, speaking as a New Zealander, means another access point to reasonable food.* A co-worker and I decided that travelling to Shanghai to see some friends would be the best way to go about this delicious endeavor. What follows below is a chronologically skewed description of my trip, and my impression of China’s largest city.

*for the record I do quite enjoy Chinese food, but variety in one’s diet is always appreciated.

1. Since I am trying to save money, I booked a reasonably cheap seat on a D train aka the second fastest train in China’s fleet. It was an overnight trip totalling about 11 hours. Luckily I had no company next to me the whole time, and could afford to stretch out across two seats and fall into some pseudo sleep/trance. I think the charge point under my seat fried my phone though, as the train kept turning on and off again. Luckily I recovered a new battery for super cheap at an electronics market. I am still a huge fan of trains since living in China, the convenience and price of them assure you get quite a good deal, and I cannot wait to tick an even longer train ride off my list.

2. Though Shanghai is the most populated city in China, their subway system leaves a lot to be desired. The absurd notion that you have to pay per distance means I was out of pocket change rather quickly, and the hassle of getting a one way ticket overloads half the machines to the point where they are out of commission indefinitely. The subway map, naturally hidden on every obscure wall, was one of the most confusing things I have ever had a headache of reading. I’ll grant Shanghai subway one thing: I never saw it as busy as Beijing gets at rush-hour time, probably because the locals know how crap it is an avoid it at all costs.

3. Thanksgiving is a holiday that does require some planning. Us motley crew of foreigners were a little lacking in that department before and during the trip, and I was disappointed that we didn’t go out and observe the other wild foreigners in their natural bar environments. But we recovered well by ordering two chicken meals (chicken/stuffing/mashed potatoes/brussels sprouts/cranberry sauce/gravy) to feed a group of eight of us at less than $30 NZD pp that also came with TWO pumpkin and ginger crust pies the size of a generous dinner plate (pause here for appropriate drooling). I think I carried that food baby for a good two days after.

4. Senator Saloon is a bloody gem in Shanghai. For those among us who are whiskey enthusiasts consider this at the top of your list. A 1920’s themed bar filled with dark wood, dark smoke, and deliciously dark (and light) liquids. A four page menu filled to the brim with a generous range of whiskeys and other lower-class drinks (I jest) with the options of hard/rocks/water only a polite request away. The bi-lingual skills of all of the bartenders was definitely appreciated after my third Glenfiddich 15 as well. I sometimes reminisce of this place, and come very close to purchasing a ticket back for one more night there.

5. My friend wanted to see a band at Yuyintang, one of Shanghai’s oldest bars and famous for rock ‘n’ roll music. The logo affixed to a small lightbox near the roof displayed a polar bear rocking out with a vivid red electric guitar. This, and the fixtures inside reminding me of a Hamilton bar called Flow (such great memories there) are the only cool things worth noting.

The opening band were okay, not my type of music, but the drummer was from So So Modern so I got to chatting with him and his friend who came from Morrinsville, and effectively my entire country ended up in the back room of some Shanghai club. That felt great.

The main attraction, a dishevelled musician named Mac DeMarco came onto the stage a decent hour later than planned. This might have been due to his wanting to play a half hour docu-I mean mockumentary-about how much of a decent wank he is. I think after ten minutes (seconds rather) of C grade actor/musicians jerking off to some synthetic fame I grew infinitely bored and asking for time to hurry itself along. It also didn’t help he introduced himself as a rock and roll type, and then proceeded to make my ears bleed with some horrific 4/4 glittery stamped tune that blended the vomit of mediocrity and dullness. Listening to rock music is meant to make people cut their souls out and offer it as forgiveness, not cut their ears off and offer them as incentive for you to quit.

6. The Shanghai Museum is well stocked with Chinese culture and history, which should be your main focus when in a new country. I was delighted that most mainlanders were lining up to see some French painting exhibition, allowing me to roam the halls of minority clothing, jade, and furniture with enough room to moonwalk between each exhibit if I so desired. The minority clothing exhibit on the fourth floor blew me away, it felt as though I was traversing South America, not China of all places, and I highly recommend you start there then continue down the floors.

7. Porn is legal in China, and it is called The Bund. This is the famous Shanghai skyline where you can observe the crazy Pearl Tower (someone was having an off day when they designed that) and a host of other buildings. Under construction when I viewed the skyline is what will become the third tallest building in the world. A majestic spiralling swirl of steel and glass, this project will project the unprecedented swift development of China onto the global modern architectural stage.

8. Being white in China means I relate to juxtaposed oddities. Dongtai Market is filled to the brim with such potential purchases. Amongst the countless little red books, chess sets, and pornographic playing cards, are such items as typewriters, pewter jewellery, Mao figurines in every conceivable posture, facially challenged faux taxidermy tigers, phrenological human figures, and an indescribable continuance of other weird and wonderful items. It really is worth checking out, if only for the immense photographic opportunities showing a stunning amount of people and objects combined.

Shanghai was an absolute delight to visit, but I could never live there. It’s a city that describes the infamous nature of China, that is it is artificial. It is too calm, too clean, too desiring to join the white kid clubs that range between Los Angeles and London. Leave me in the grit and grime of Beijing so that on my future return trips I can sanitize myself in Shanghai.

How much is that doggie in the window?

If you’re a fan of all things furry, scaly, toothy, fluffy, and just plain adorable, stop reading.

A lot of people in China own a pet. Though the people live in apartments mirroring the dimensions of a cell in prison, most will happily buy/adopt a furry or scaly critter off the street.

What I have seen on the street –

Goldfish in heat sealed bags for keychains.
Fighting fish in 5x5x5cm tanks isolated amongst cacti.
Rabbits in cages no bigger than they are.
Puppies stacked three deep to protect against the winter wind in steel barred cages (no adequate floor for them to stand on means poor lil twisted ankles incoming).
A turtle in a ceramic bowl under a glass table trying to scratch its way out.
Puppies chained up outside for eight hours a day, with no playtime.
Kittens let loose to turn feral and scour the food vendor streets at night.

Most of the time you won’t see any food or water next to these animals either.

I’m still not quite iron-hearted as to walk past any of them without a twinge. But coming to China means turning your personal feel dial down to ‘almost heartless’, if you are going to survive. I think I only have one existential crisis a week now. There are no animal protection laws (nor are there any child protection laws) in China; they are still in draft form to be approved by the National People’s Congress.

The chances of those bills passing in the next five years? Don’t get your hopes up.

And here is an account of what happens when somebody thinks they have ‘rescued’ an animal –

A co-worker of mine knocked on my door yesterday. I opened up to this adorable white and black fluffball of a puppy thrust into my face with the words ‘this is Baosi, can he come play?’ chasing its wiggly tail. After letting both of them in I found out that a student on campus had purchased Baosi from a pet shop.

Now pets are banned on campus, and the director found out pretty quickly. So my co-worker took Baosi from her student, and the plan she concocted was to rotate ownership of him between her, myself, and the other two foreign teachers. As foreigners we can get away with a lot of things here, but keeping a puppy? I don’t think so.

Poor Baosi hadn’t eaten anything in about five days, because his first owner was an absolute idiot and decided against buying real animal food, settling for animal substitute nutrient bricks of shit instead. As soon as my co-worker acquired Baosi she promptly……sprayed Chanel perfume on the pup. Apparently he smelled. What the hell co-worker, I can feel the dog’s ribs and you think Chanel is going to fix that? I gave him some random meat I had bought from the supermarket solely for the name (beer ham) it smelt horrible, tasted okay, Baosi was just happy it was edible I think.

The lack of logic, as far as the value of life in China, is infuriating some days.

Now in a final plot-twist It appears my co-worker is allergic to the dog, and the choices available in this saga are either all us foreign teachers adopt him at risk of worm/flea infestation/rabies/threat of work termination, or the dog goes back to die.

Oh, and Baosi entered into my PLECO dictionary gives me the definition of: die of a sudden illness. Unsure if premonition.

All aboard the feeltrain, destination Lie-in-a-ball-and-cry-ville.

E.

Important work meeting.

Generally speaking, meetings at work are a good time to discuss the various issues different departments are having. They come to a conclusion when all issues have been rectified, or at least have a plan towards finding a solution, and everyone goes home happy.

 

Not in China.

 

First, we start with a welcoming that names every man/woman/child/dog/radiator/plant/water jug/ridiculous phone cover/molecule of air, present. We clap at every name. Then we mumble ridiculous Aesop fable inspired crap about turning students into pools of water and providing them with the stream. Why we want to sodden students is beyond me. But we clap to this as well. Then around the table each department leader whines about typical university student discipline and how nobody is working hard or doing their job or how the sky is falling down. Every subsequent leader who is demanded asked to speak increases the amount of time they spend talking by another 5021%, measured against those who have finished, so by the time Mr. President has his say at the end, I’ve aged three decades and my ass has molded itself so far into the chair that there is no hope of me standing ever again.

 

Goodbye ass, though you were no Beyonce, I still shook you like a Polaroid picture on the dance-floor.

 

Never mind the fact that absolutely no one gives a damn what you are saying at these meetings. We had one girl taking photographs at every angle known (and unknown) to physics of her face, and the group around the table. We had one girl watching a Chinese soap drama on her Galaxy S4 with the sound up loud enough to annoy you, but not distinguish any words. We had my interpreter co-worker giving me a verbal shitstorm talking about spilling Chanel perfume and the diarrhoea epidemic of 2012 that went through her friends. We had the leaders playing footsies, well, I imagine they were, they kept smiling all the fucking time.

 

At the closing of the meeting we had one big dysfunctional family portrait photograph, which is basically a ‘spot the two foreigners in our group’ game disguised an as official record keeping document. We then all went out to lunch in the countryside and I became intoxicated with the leaders on Baijiu, which for those who are new to this liquid, if you think of a hybrid devil child between paint thinner and battery acid, you’re getting close.

 

For those who know me, I am obsessed with time. I do not enjoy being late, and I do not enjoy it being wasted on tedious bullshit face-making spectacle circuses like Chinese meetings.

 

Next time, I’m calling in sick.

 

 

 

 

E.

 

 

 

 

Leave your nationalism at home.

This is my second year living in China, and also my second year of living somewhere I do not traditionally call ‘home’ but still regard it as one. In these years I’ve met wonderful people from all different countries. My tongue feels well navigated in the thoughts of the North, South, East, and West of this planet’s inhabitants. But there is still one annoying attitude that keeps poisoning social interactions.

 

Nationalism.

 

Recently I was at a bar in Shijiazhuang, with many expats clustered toward the back end. The alcohol paralleled the flow of conversations. Social lubrication is necessary when you are in a foreign land, because the global platform is rough and dangerous to navigate. Generally everyone was well behaved and discussed the menial drivel of Shijiazhuang pollution and ‘hey what do you do here?’ Later in the night a giant hunt commences amongst the expats to see who is DTF (I mean, if you want it, you can’t really be too fussy in China). It’s usually all well and good fun.

 

Then the wee hours of the night beckon a darker mood. The conversation started with defining the word ‘ignorant’ and ended with the same old ‘America/England/New Zealand/insertothercountryhere is the greatest, and fuck the rest of you’ chant.

 

I have seen the same argument happen countless times. In bars, clubs, house parties, coffee dates, picnics, work, play, any time of the day. It’s the same old hash of my country is better than yours because I love it so.

 

If this is how you think, then you’re an asshat.

 

Nationalism reflects the sheer dumb luck that you were born into one ridiculously tiny part of the planet, next to people who share a similar accent as you will inherit.

 

It is the essence of geography and nothing more.

 

The winning side is not who has the bigger gun, or who has the most money, or who cares most about the environment, or who genuinely feels for humanity, or who has the better life.

 

The winning side is one who can communicate ideas and emotions without calling into question the place in which others traditionally call ‘home’.

 

We are all raised upon dirt, don’t drag the power of your words through it.

 

 

 

 

E.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Killers.

I failed seeing The Killers twice back home, and thought I’d missed the opportunity forever. About a week ago, as Lisa and I were hunting out Indian food in the maze that is Beijing City, Lisa spied a small advertisement saying The Killers were playing on National Day (October 1st).

 

Third times the charm, right?

 

Instantly we planned out how we were going to travel during what happens to be China’s busiest week of the year (whoever decided The Killers were to play on the most important day, you fool). More travel plans were added and taken away, and at one stage it looked like we might have missed our ticket purchasing chances, but with three days to go we secured some middle-class tickets and were in with a grin and off to see those magical boys. The night of the 1st we navigated the Metro and headed towards Wukesong, and the Beijing Mastercard Stadium. The Metro is always a hit-and-miss insofar as judging how busy it’s going to be. We made it out of our final destination with ten minutes to spare, and after copious ticket and bag checks we entered the stadium to the unfortunate closing bars of Mr. Brightside. China is the only country I know who start their concerts on time (this we should have realised, as everything in China is countable down to the last minute).

 

The Killers are absolutely, undeniably, beautiful. Brandon Flowers spoke some cute, yet recognisable, greetings in Mandarin to which the crowd exploded. He also mentioned their eclectic dress sense was due to a market they visited (still fabulous in your cut off freedom star shirt there Mr. Flowers). They played a full 90-minute set filled with most of their successful back catalogue top hits, and left the crowd (including myself) filled with that rare happiness you feel when you experience a band who sound exactly as they do on album.

 

Because I witnessed The Killers in China (their first China appearance no less) I feel there were some outwardly Chinese aspects to it that are worth mentioning –

 

The tickets were all seat allocated. In China it seems you sit for any and all events. This would be okay if the seats were built in a layered formation, not flat on the stadium floor, as ours happened to be. We sped past our central located seats to stand in the side aisle next to the VIP section, and promptly piss off the Chinese security to no end as more and more people had the same idea as us.

 

Crowd interaction was a little lacklustre. Brandon tried to get the crowd to sing with specific pauses thrown into many of the songs, but I think the inherent language barriers were too strong to overcome, even with a large expat presence.

 

 

Overall I still regard The Killers as one of the best bands I have seen live. Read my mind was played to perfection, and the finale song of When you were young (which I called before the concert started) was an absolute killer song to end with (nothing is ever complete without a pun).

 

 

 

 

E.

An atheist walks into a church.

When I was a little girl I went to a Presbyterian church. I remember one year scoring the part of ‘Mary’ in one nativity play and being unbelievably stoked in doing so, but that’s about as far as the church memories, and my acting career, goes. As I grew up I started to stay at home and read books about dinosaurs, space, and other science-y things.

You can pretty much see where this is going, and I don’t really need to tell you I no longer go to church. But it’s stated for the record.

A few days ago, my Mum received a phone call from an older family friend. This family friend is a member of the Presbyterian Women’s Fellowship, of which every month they allow guest speakers to come and share their life story to the small elderly women’s group.

This family friend was ringing to see if I’d be their guest speaker for August.

Wait, what?

An atheist who lived in China (a globally known athetistic minded country) is being asked to speak to a bunch of old Christian women?

Warning bells were indeed ringing. Church is not a preferred choice of venue for, well, anything I do at all these days. What in the world do they want me for? Are they going to frown at my story? What is going to happen?

However, I was raised that if you can do something nice for another human being, then do it. I agreed to be their speaker and, with my mum’s words of ‘play nice and be good’ seeing me out the door, off I went to church for the first time in countless years (like, 17 years).

Arriving just before 10am, I was warmly welcomed with a cup of coffee and these delightful cheese and pesto toasted rolls placed in front of me (they were simply divine tasting (pun intended)). Everyone started to settle down and become quiet, so I cleared my throat and began with “Hello, my name is…”

“Wait a moment,” miss Intimidating Lady (my affectionate nickname choice) says, “We have to take minutes”.

Oops.

I was promptly reminded that churches are a business, as I sat and watched the proper etiquette of minutes and finances being discussed and distributed amongst the Fellowship.

Ten minutes later I was allowed to begin, and from there I spun the tale of a 22 year old Kiwi girl living in China, who had absolutely no Chinese knowledge before embarking on such a journey.

Two hours later I was just getting to the good parts of what happens when you muck up the tones in Mandarin, when IL ahems and mentions “we’re very sorry, but we must stop you there’.

Oops.

How did two hours pass without me being aware of it?

We finished with the Fellowship gathering and holding hands to say thanks (I awkwardly joined in the holding hand because they were staring and waiting) and after a brief chat with a dairy farm owner (who was pleased to hear China still wants our milk), I left and drove home.

Strange as these next words will seem, it’s true. Those two hours were one of the most self-rewarding hours of life experience I have ever had. Here I am, a silly, average, 22 year old girl, speaking to an engaged and genuinely curious group of women whose life experiences are two decades behind mine. They were interested. They compared their ideas of China with my own. They asked questions that pierced my definition of human essence. They made me think.

You can’t judge a book by its cover, a car by its garage, a glitter by its gold, or a person by their beliefs.

Thank you Fellowship for teaching me this.

E.

(I’m sorry to report that they were not a Fellowship of any ring, still searching for that one, heh).

10 day blog challenge!

The votes are in. If I continue to write (and have non-China posts) you guys said you’d stay for the ride!

Woot! Have a cookie.

I am taking baby steps and starting a ’10 Day Challenge’ because quite frankly there is very few material out there on the Internets for a ’30 Day Challenge’ which isn’t completely narcissistically driven, entirely self-absorbed drivel (ain’t nobody got time for that crap).

So the headlines for the next 10 Days (courtesy of http://blog.wendycphotography.com/2012/05/ten-day-blog-challenge-ten-reasons-you-love-your-job/) are:

10 reasons you love your job.

9 things about yourself.

8 ways to win your heart (ugh).

7 things that cross your mind a lot.

6 things you wish you had never done (ruh roh).

5 people who mean a lot (in no particular order).

4 turn offs.

3 turn ons (reowr).

2 emotions describing life right now.

1 confession (gulp).

Let’s get cracking then!

10 reasons I love my job:

Reason one: It’s new. Starting September I will be working at an art institute in the great city of Beijing. I have officially left my job of English Teacher in polluted Shijiazhuang, and am looking forward to a different flavour of smog in the big smoke capital of China.

Reason two: I will be surrounded by art people! This makes me immensely happy. The creative vibe will be buzzing 24/7 and I cannot wait to channel it.

Reason three: The art institute, also known as Kede, is rather rich. Think ‘we just built a brand new 3D capable cinema for our students to showcase their work because we can’ rich. The campus is also very gorgeous and well designed (very few hints of terrible Chinese architecture).

Reason four: I will be officially contracted to three working days per week. Hello free time, how you doin?

Reason five: The pay for such an absurdly low amount of work is actually real world money! And the location of the institute, being very isolated from the centre of Beijing, means I will actually save it.

Reason six: I am nowhere near finished with traversing the world, and being able to stay in China because of this job means I am a wee bit closer to every other country than NZ is.

Reason six: Networking potential in China is immeasurable. There is just so much happening here and I want to be a part of it.

Reason seven: I can continue learning Mandarin in an environment which will help me a lot more than NZ could. I really want this skill to develop

Reason eight: I will be working with someone I know, a radtastic girl from Iowa called Sarah (she will read this and probably laugh/accept me as the coolest being ever/laugh some more).

Reason nine: The institute has ties to international school such as New York Film Academy and California Institute of Art and Design (fingers crossed the foreign teachers can go on ‘school trips’).

Reason ten: I think it will lead to something much bigger for me. Don’t ask me what that is. But I have a hunch this could end up being much more than I expected.

E.

Is it cheating?

I started this blog with all intentions of it being filled with informative posts about working and travelling in China (specifically a run of the mill city named Shijiazhuang). The title is a dead giveaway to my former goal. It wasn’t meant to go further than that.

 

But.

(Always a but).

 

My plans have changed. I am now heading to Beijing for work.

And I am bored.

 

Being back home means technically I cannot write any posts with China in mind. I’m not there right now so how can I really give any advice about it?

 

And I feel if I don’t start negotiating my way around this literary road block I will most likely give up on this blog, and let it rot in some hell-hole corner of the Internet where it can make friends with Bebo and that meme we’ve forgotten about but used to be funny once.

 

I don’t really want this to happen. I want to keep practicing. And write weekly, daily even. Maybe a 30 day blog challenge. I want to write posts about more than my old ‘China life’.

 

I think, the question is actually ‘would you stick around if I changed things up a bit?’

 

 

 

 

E.

The day I became an illegal alien.

Some lessons I learnt about the trials of coming home.

  • Check your visa status. My visa for legally being in China expired June 24. My ticket home was split across two journeys, one from Beijing to Guangzhou at 1730 – 2045 on June 24, and one from Guangzhou to Auckland at 0030 – 1600 (+1) on June 25. Already Chinese Customs saw a slight mathematical problem. I was going to be an illegal alien for half an hour.  I was warned to go through Guangzhou Customs very quickly, as once you’re in no-mans-land you’re technically out of such jurisdictions.
  • 7kgs overweight check-in baggage equals NZD $200 fine. I wish suitcases came with a built in scale in the handle to show you how much it weighs as you pack.
  • Travel pillows are the difference between passing out on a plane and genuinely sleeping for at least two hours. Beer also aids the sleep process. Abuse the free alcohol.
  • Free wireless in airports is great, but don’t mess with the password system or it will lock you out and you will be forced to people watch in airports. TIL: people in airports are the epitome of weirdly dressed individuals.
  • Pack your carry-on with laptop accessibility in mind. You will feel like you are the one individual who holds up the entire security line if you don’t. Tip: cameras are also another tech accessory that need special security scanning. (Why you would make a camera shaped bomb is another question entirely).
  • Chinese security are genuinely very nice and don’t make you feel like a hindrance.
  • Unless you have scissors in your bag. In which case they become very protective.
  • Always clean out backpacks you use on a daily basis before packing. There could be a sneaky pair of scissors. Or eighteen (inside joke).
  • Chinese do not understand space. We were herded onto a bus that connected us to our place (BJ-GZ flight) and naturally they all head for the first of three doors. I walked to the end door of the bus and stood in the back as I watched the first third of the bus become more and more like a sardine can. Finally the driver said something in Mandarin I can only think is the equivalent to ‘you idiotic morons, move down to the very back!’ And finally all was well.
  • Delayed planes can really mess up an already sticky visa situation. The first plane was grounded for as long as the film ‘Great Expectations’, the one starring Helena Bonham Carter, takes to screen, which was almost three hours (terrible choice China Southern, terrible). Finally after four hours from original take-off time it finally taxied onto the runway and took off.
  • Chinese kids are too damn smart. One six year old wunderkind whooped his mum in xiangqi (a chinese variation of chess that has cannons!) and was always five moves ahead of her.
  • It is totally acceptable to stand and watch people play cards/chess/any game on any Chinese domestic flight.
  • Four hour flight delays means you definitely miss your connecting flight.
  • All English supplied in China is purely courteous. To my knowledge (and from my limited Google searches) English is not a registered official language of Greater China. So for all you foreigners (I’m looking at you large obnoxious Danish man I encountered), who complain about the service provided (which I thought was exceptional given it was 1am and hotels are hard to access at this time), remember what country you are complaining in and that there is no one language to rule them all.
  • Being a solo white female traveller has its perks – you are the only one allowed a room to yourself in the hotel the airline provides you with when you overstay your welcome (silly weather).
  • A good way to kill time in a hotel – slow mo videos.
  • Smiles are a universal currency, and also a good way to score free breakfast lunch and dinner courtesy of the friend I made at the front desk.
  • Sometimes being a solo white female traveller sucks, I’m looking at you random Nigerian guy who approached me asking what flight I was on. ‘Err, I’m from Paris’ (bolt).
  • China is a stickler for the details, almost detained because of visa, finally allowed to board the plane I PAID FOR TO GO HOME because the manager actually thought it was a good idea.
  • China doesn’t believe in duty-free alcohol. Much sadness was felt.
  • Airbuses don’t always come with in-flight entertainment.
  • If you are on a Chinese airline and can speak some Mandarin, use it to talk to the flight attendants (for food, drinks etc). They genuinely get a real kick out of it.