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China, humour

China 36: At home in Cheng Du

Copyright Elaine Canham, 2015

Copyright Elaine Canham, 2015

Continuing my 1985 diary of a trip to China and Tibet

Back in Cheng Du. I loved Tibet, but it feels so good to be back. Like I’m home or something. In fact, I feel so good that it doesn’t bother me that I have to get a bus to the Jin Jiang hotel, and that I haven’t the faintest idea which bus is the right one. I just climb on the bus that I think is right and all the passengers nod madly when I rather tentatively say, ‘Jin Jiang?’.

It’s funny. In Tibet, the Chinese were easy to dislike; most of the ones I met were arrogant and aggravating. Here, they couldn’t be nicer. All of them are obviously having a conversation about me, and whereas before it would have made me feel so self conscious, now, I don’t care. I do wonder, in passing, what I’m going to do if I’ve got on the wrong bus. But what’s the worst that can happen? Anyway it is the right one. The bus screeches to a halt, right outside the hotel and all the passengers shout, ‘Jin Jiang!’ and about 60 pairs of hands pat me on the shoulder as I make my way out.

The doorman carries my bag to reception. That’s not something I expected to happen either. Must be just a day for general friendliness. Check in and run up the six flights of stairs to my dormitory room. At the top I stop and realise what I’ve just done. I ran up six flights of stairs with my pack, which weighs about 50lbs. And I’m not out of breath. I can’t believe it. But then that’s what being at high altitude does for you. I understand now why all those athletes train in Mexico, or wherever. It’s an amazing feeling. And the air is so good to breathe. Dump my pack on my bed pull out my towel and go for a shower. Honest to God, the dirt that comes off me. My hair is caked in dust. The water going down the plughole is brown. But it is hot water and a proper powerful blast of it too. Lovely, lovely, lovely hot water and soap.

And then, food in the hotel dining hall. Meet Margaret from Leeds. She’s spent the last one and a half years teaching English to giggling Japanese women in Tokyo. It’s apparently feminine to giggle before you’re married in Japan, and then become terribly serene after. Reception has assured Margaret that she’s in a room with two Hong Kong women, but there are three packs in her room, all with men’s underwear peeping out of it. When she asks to be moved they put her in a room with a Japanese professor. I make some fatuous joke about him probably being a martial arts expert. And Margaret, small and demure replies, ‘Oh, that doesn’t matter. So am I.’

Apparently she’s the only Western woman ever to have studied this particular branch of Ju Jitsu, and certainly the only woman black belt in it. It teaches strength through weakness; the less strength you use to overcome your opponent, the better you are. She would have got into her second dan by now, except that her teacher feels she is not quite ready – she can’t completely control her emotions. This is quite important as it’s a lethal sport – there are no competitions because of the danger of killing your opponent.

It turns out that I am the one sharing with the two women from Hong Kong. Very pleasant. Bed is wonderful; soft, big clean – and safe.

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About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I like to; even when I can't think of much to say.

Discussion

11 thoughts on “China 36: At home in Cheng Du

  1. I don’t want your journey to end–but I know it does, someday!

    Posted by Vivra Beene | April 5, 2015, 8:13 pm
  2. Who would’ve thought climbing stairs, a hot shower and a comfy bed could be spellbinding to read about? But it is!

    Posted by Bruce Goodman | April 5, 2015, 6:45 pm
  3. Still bringing me joy Elaine, thanks.I was expecting you to meet your friends again so I need to go back and see if I missed something.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Posted by davidprosser | April 5, 2015, 3:06 pm
  4. If it wasn’t for small creature comforts like a big and clean bed, a hot shower and warm food, life would be sad. I feel your joy upon arriving at this hotel. I continue to marvel at your adventure. ❤ Happy Easter.

    Posted by Let's CUT the Crap! | April 5, 2015, 2:05 pm
    • Happy Easter to you too, Tess! Thanks for staying with me on this journey.

      Posted by elainecanham | April 5, 2015, 2:39 pm
    • I’m enjoying your journey.
      Just picked up a novel last week (by accident) titled Crazy Rich Asians (by Kevin Kwan, pub. 2013) about the people 360 degrees different from the people you met. Am only 100 pages in, but it explains a lot of things I would never have know. Yes, they are rich, but the culture, the old money, their education, snobbery is ultra interesting–at least so far.

      Posted by Let's CUT the Crap! | April 6, 2015, 5:28 pm
  5. I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying this travelogue.

    Posted by Julia Emerson | April 5, 2015, 1:43 pm

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