Just before I leave China behind I feel a reflection on the last month’s experience would be a good idea. I am not sure what I expected from this part of the journey. I have been to China twice before – once to walk on the Wall for the Hospice movement and again to travel the Yangtse River before it was flooded. Both trips were interesting, challenging and enjoyable in their own way. I knew I wanted to see the Warriors, but beyond that I had not thought too much about it. China just marked the start of the westward journey of the Silk Road.
What I found was a ”full on’ nation, with a very different feel to my previous trips, determinedly hurtling into playing a leading role on the world commercial stage. A country where every citizen wants to be part of the action. There is an almost ferocious drive and energy – from the major roadworks that seem to be taking place everywhere you turn to the frenetic tourists. We obviously saw people living at a subsistence level, particularly in the rural areas but the overwhelming impression was of the burgeoning middle class. They are taming their land – even the desert! – in a way that I have never seen before.
We have seen some amazing sights and learnt many things. I would not have missed it, but I think I am glad it is over. I wish them well with it they deserve it for the energy
I must add two more things for the record that have not appeared in my commentary.
The first is that I have slept in the hardest beds in the last month that I have ever experienced! Sleeping in a tent on my sleeping mat has been far softer!
Some of our fellow travellers have taken to placing their inflatable sleeping mats on the beds in hotel rooms to make the beds tolerable. What a hoot! I’ll have it known that I have not succumbed to this extreme solution but the beds have consistently been like lying on bricks.
The second thing is the total absence of mosquitoes or indeed any other flying, stinging thing. It has been amazing. There has been the occasional fly but even these have been incidental rather than a permanent feature. I can only ask the question – in the Chinese attempt to create the perfect environment, have all nasty flying things been eradicated like the cracks in their historic buildings?