Innately, I have restrained myself from beginning this new travelling chapter with ‘So it Begins’. This is not beginning, but rather, continuing; whether from last summer or, indeed, my gap year, abandoning Manchester (again) feels more like a resumption of past endeavours than the generation of a new frontier.
Thus, let me begin:
And so it continues. [MEDIA=1]Click for audio enhancement.
The film is rolling. And, like the third take of the same scene, little has changed.
The night before I was due to depart, I had yet to pack. Why bother? I had only been home for two days and there were friends I had yet to see. Hence, I productively procrastinated. 7pm, 8, 9…midnight…who cares?
3 am. Trepidation. Time to begin.
Seven hours later, I was almost finished. Packing itself is not such an arduous issue, but the peripheral aspects are deceptively protractive; organising the music (I was honestly abhorred whilst updating my ipod to discover Air Supply occupying valuable storage space), picking which books to carry and locating critical documents (i.e. my air tickets).
Nevertheless, with suspense and aplomb apt for the Chariots of Fire, I finished packing with a whole twenty minutes to spare.
The only problem, of course, was that I jet-lagged even before I had stepped onto the plane. The flight was therefore seemingly over even before it began; as it took off, I slept and as it landed, I wakened.
This was all reminiscent of October 6th 2005 – the day I left Manchester for nine months. Confronted with three choices, the outcome was inevitable:
b) Organising logistics
c) Watching ‘Team America: World Police’
Then, as now, everything, somehow, merged together successfully.
My flight entailed a four hour stopover in Dubai. Bar the innumerable oil rigs protruding like pharaohs from the proximate waters, there is nothing worthwhile to note about my experience there. The airport was disconcerting in the same way as an indoor shopping plaza obfuscates the mind with its pervasive placards and people.
Also, the possibility of traversing the Middle East via my return home was struck a mighty blow by the ineptitude of the Emirates staff, who averred that I was unable to alter my flights, despite what I had hitherto been told.
As soon the airplane’s wheels kissed the tarmac of Beijing’s Capital International Airport, a symphony of mobile phone ringtones spread throughout the plane. Initially, this was amusing. However, with the airplane still continuing to drive towards its docking station ten minutes later, it became quite harrowing. Why it took the plane so long to finally taxi still bewilders me; it may have been waiting for its docking space to be vacated and prepared or, have simply had to drive to its destination as the airport is so colossal.
Discussions about airports rarely enthral, however, the sheer size and ambition of Beijing’s new airport cannot be readily dismissed. The interior was vibrant and expansive, and the lines laced across the ceiling generated a sense of momentum.
If only the same could be said about Heathrow.
London 2012: Semper (un)Paratus
Beijing differs to last year’s recollections. This may have been due to the disparity between India and China, whereas now, the comparison between the latter and England is more palpable.
Visceral smog infiltrates the air, producing a soft, lingering haze; Indian smog on the other hand, as I remember it, was as viscous as burning timber.
The weather is subdued. Maybe the summer is concealed behind the smog, or, is being contained to optimise the sunshine during the Olympics. Either way, it is not the bliss I was anticipating.
Earlier today I decided not to pursue my Mandarin lessons. It took me ninety minutes to commute towards the office (only to eventually abandon any hope of finding it in exasperation). Moreover, with only seven days before the politics course at Peking University begins, the possibility of learning anything substantial (or worthwhile), is minimal.
Instead, at least over the forthcoming days, I doubt that I will complete.
I have realised that I am at my most comfortable whilst travelling; that is, not simply being abroad, but literally boarding trains and buses, smelling new scents and seeing different scenery.
Time to plan post-Peking.
N.B. As I will be predominantly working in Beijing, I may use this blog about eclectic thoughts, probably arising from my experience here, but not necessarily related.
Also, please comment.
It makes me smile.
Wait until you get outside…