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Lighting out for the territory nce more in the Middle East. The more I travel the more I want to travel and the longer that I am out of England the happier I am. At present in Iraq and having a wonderful time. really fallen in love with the country and the people. Very glad I came and

Mon 24th Nov - Beijing

CHINA | Monday, 24 November 2008 | Views [436]

Sat in free minivan for Zen Hotel with a dozen Muslims. But the Zen has no dorm room, no English and no cafe so get money back and find friendly rickshaw man who cannot take me himself (Police?) but writes address of far East hostel for me to show cab driver. Bodhisattva Rickshaw. Book into the Far East which is fabulous and glamorous and huge and cheap. I have a 6 bed dorm all to myself for 70 yuan. Paid for only to nights as want to see Russia.

Forbidden City - walk there thru Tiananmen Square. Have sudden strange feeling while having cig in above square - the first time this feeling has occured. What the ---- am I doing here?? I mean, Tiananmen. Have to buy a Mao pocket watch to come back down to earth. Kitsch will do that for you.

There is an enormous photo or portrait of one Mao Zedong on the front of the gate. No comment. 40 yuan or yuen to go in. fend off offers of guiding round as prefer to walk round on my own and come out happy and just as ignorant as I was when I went in. Think the tourist season is ending because guides had notes of desperation in their voices. Also fend off the 'I am a student and we are having an art exhibition' scammers, as forewarned by several travellers. FC big, very big so walk happily round for a couple of hours, then leave. Suddenly very tired and despair of finding a cab as whole square is fenced off - cannot imagine why - when Ping! an angel in a tuktuk slides to a stop next to me and gestures me to get in. Show him my bit of writing and for 20 Y I am home.

Drinking milkcoffee by the fishtank in the bar downstairs at FE hostel; flashpackers on their laptops, muzak, Chinese playing pool. Must research. Luckily do not have to register with cops as hostel does it for me. ATM is round the corner. Courage, mon brave! Exactly how little money is left? Not bad, as it turns out, prob spent less than if I had stayed at home - wherever that is.

The way to cope in a big city - and this is one of the bigger cities - is to find a base as quickly as possible, a decent map, and then get cabs. Having base address in local language is a must - thank you, Rickshaw Man.

Shame to be sitting in Beijing eating a grilled cheese sandwich but haven't had cheese in so long. It is awful. Warm, white bread and rubbery warm filling with no butter.Serves me right. Stay up late researching on net and talking to Israeli boy who left the army. The rest is silence.

Tags: angels, cheese, kitsch, mao

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