There have been profound economic and social changes in China over the past few years and a much improved tourist infrastructure is now in place. Not so long ago it was a challenge to travel in China and Charlotte Fanjoy, who was there for five weeks in 1987, recorded her impressions through verse.
If I can handle this, I can handle anything
Crowds and crowds and crowds
Nothing familiar: not clothes, or language, or food, or traffic norms. Or smells, or sounds, or heat, or behaviour
Culture shock: dazed madness
China—in the morning
How I love China early in the morning…
I love being in its parks
Where people do their Tai Chi, ballroom dancing, martial arts, exercises.
There’s a lovely sense of peace in early Chinese mornings.
Today we headed out of Dali to a market at Shaping
My god it was fantastic.
The Bai people were selling everything, absolutely anything a person could need.
The colours of their clothes
The peacefulness of their work
Their focus on their tasks.
I felt like an alien from another planet.
Chinese staring squads
If you stare at me one more minute
If you laugh at me one more minute
If you surround me one more minute
If you push me one more minute
I am going to go fucking nuts.
So I yelled ‘Fuck off!’ to the solid wall of people surrounding me.
Train trip to Chengdu
Sandwiched in 2 sets of triple hard-bunks
1 little bottle of whisky
25 hours of talking, sharing, learning, laughing
Wonderful, wonderful 25 hours.
Lunch with Dafu, Baoguo, China
Today I had lunch with Dafu
Actually it was Dafu’s foot
Well, actually it was on Dafu’s big toe.
Now I imagine you are thinking,
Who is Dafu?
Well, Dafu is a Buddha and is special for many reasons.
He’s old—been around since 713 A.D.—so they say.
I really liked him.
It was a lovely lunch.
Picnic on the Great Wall
I loved it.
I was surprised by the intensity of my reaction.
I felt so fortunate, so honoured, such joy
To be walking along the steep, ancient, Great Wall of China.
We even had a picnic on the wall.
Being there was in itself worth the trip to China.
May Day in Tiananmen Square
After eating duck at a grimy restaurant and plodding through the bones and crud on the floor
We left for the square with our Danish friends.
Tiananmen Square was packed with crowds of people waiting for something to happen
On that May Day in Beijing.
Time to eat in Guilin
Do your taste buds crave fried hedgehog?
How about fried dog meat or pigeon?
Or fried turtle or frog?
O.K. How about this?
Any of the above can be stewed or roasted.
Well I’ll bet you’d like your roasted snake made into a soup or your fried hedgehog served with brown sauce!
You won’t believe this.
You simply won’t believe this.
I am in a tiny village in the middle of China.
I am at Susanna’s Cafe.
My table is graced with a clean, white tablecloth and a glowing candle.
I am drinking my second cup of Irish coffee,
Yes Irish coffee.
I am listening to Western music.
Oh I just saw a woman carrying a huge load on her shoulders—2 huge baskets attached together by a pole. Women work so hard here in China.
Anyway: I feel great. I feel such love. I am living a dream.