I heard a rare utterance of the English language earlier
It was uttered by a Chinese guy as he went careering off a
particularly icy bit of the Great Wall at Badaling.
A severe cold snap has hit Northern China. It’s -4c in
Beijing, -6c up in Badaling and a whopping -32c in Harbin (where I will be in a
few days) Combined with the infamous smog, breathing is difficult. I’m
struggling. On my next visit I will do what the locals do and wear a surgical
mask. Talking of next visits there will definitely be at least one. I’m
determined to see Shanghai, Hong Kong and Lijang.
I love this country. I’ve been fascinated by the Middle
Kingdom since childhood, when after becoming totally obsessed with Phil
Agland’s Shanghai Vice I ditched Mali and a fixation with all things West
African and resolved to learn Mandarin.
I never quite learnt Mandarin and ended up spending vast
amounts of time amongst the Chinese population in Malaysia and Singapore. Now
eventually I’m here in Mainland China and it hasn’t disappointed. Cliches aside
it genuinely is another planet.
One billion plus insect eating, falsetto
singing folk all trying to board the same subway train as me.
Aged about ten my mother got a back payment of benefits and decided I could pick the destination
for our summer holiday. Bamako, Mali was a real possibility until they spoilt
it for themselves by staging one of their many coups/civil wars. We went to
Then along came Shanghai Vice. Phil Agland was given
unprecedented access to the rapidly modernising 90s Southern Chinese city and
it’s inhabitants. Agland’s visit coincided neatly with a serial killer, a major
drugs bust and an earthquake in Yunnan Province.
In the city a woman dealing drugs from an extremely grubby
kitchen comes to the attention of Detective Zhu, a strong but silent chain
smoker. She is being supplied from all the way up in Harbin and Zhu
interrogates her at length, glaring menacingly at her as she sits panicking
slightly. Alongside this and the flood of migrant peasant workers from the
countryside a serial killer is operating. He is caught and the camera leaves
the interview room temporarily. Returning he is looking slightly bruised!
Also featured is Wei Lan and her popular radio show. She is
filmed visiting a party official jailed for corruption. I spent hours on my
shortwave radio trying to pick up Wei Lan’s show but the nearest I could get
(and still can) was Radio China International.
I originally wrote 'Every Han for Himself' for the now closed Travelpod site. In January 2014 I was lucky enough to able to tick off a long held bucket list ambition by visiting both Beijing and the Harbin Ice Festival.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.