Mar 10, 2003 10:23pm
Chris enjoys a meal for one in a corner of a restaurant, writing in his journal.
Manager: (smiling nervously) Do you mind if I sit here with you?
Chris: (minding, but friendly) Of course not. Please.
Manager: (sitting down) I want to say when you come in here I love you so much.
Chris: (hesitantly) Thank you.
And so my time in Jinan has come to an end, characterised no less than at the beginning by friendliness and mutual misunderstanding.
It is true that the school has received visits from the Men in Black (it seems a former student wasn’t happy with her value for money). And they did rearrange the face of a fellow alien down at the local watering hole the other night. But in fact my decision to leave has nothing to do with the possibility of a kneecapping – my timing is just one of those unfortunate coincidences in life.
The real reason I’m leaving sooner than planned is to Travel. I want to see as much of this diverse and fascinating country as I can in the two months left to me in China, so a month ago I gave notice of my resignation. A week later, we got a 50% pay rise (another one of those unfortunate coincidences), but that hasn’t deterred me. A few hours from now I’ll be on the 10:56 sleeper train to Huashan, a sacred mountain to the east of Xi’an. Seven weeks of mountains, caves, lakes, temples, mosques and deserts lie ahead of me.
Behind me, time well spent. It’s been a busy few months since I last wrote, much of it in fact taken up with travel. Since brevity is the soul of wit and my time is short – well, actually, just because my time is short – reflections on the German treaty port of Qingdao, the deep freeze of Harbin’s ice lantern festival, an awesome day’s walk along the Great Wall, the hutongs of Pingyao, the watchful silence of the Terracotta Warriors and the crypt of Buddha’s fingerbone shall all have to wait.
It’s time to go and get take-away from the Smiley Lady’s one last time.
Then: The Road.
p.s. I haven’t had a chance to scan my photos, but Tara’s are better. Enjoy.