Monday, March 24, 2008

Harping From Helsinki

Well, if I’m honest, I’m not actually in the Finnish capital, I’m about 4km over the Ural Mountains, but Harping from Helsinki just sounds better. My overall impressions of the trip so far?

- They really ought to tidy up security at Heathrow Terminal 1. The atmosphere was very temporary, due mainly to straggling wires here and there.

- Helsinki is dark. I was expecting a suave, European capital. Granted, it is difficult to get an accurate impression from the air, but it definitely had a dull, dark ambience to it. To summarise in one onomatopoeic word, Brrrr...

Still, as I sit here aboard Finnair 51 to Beijing, I am filled with a pleasant apprehension as to what awaits us in the Middle Kingdom. One of the participants in this tour last visited China 30 years ago and is nervously anticipating what will to her look like a different country. Whilst I left only 18 months ago, that same fervour has beset me. For instance, have modern… no wait, sorry, space age trains been instituted on the Central China routes yet? To what extent has old Xianlin University and College Town been developed? Most importantly, will this still be the China I knew and loved?

I’m not sure I’ll know it, but I feel confident that I’ll love it, albeit from the sheltered perspective of a prope tourist. Still, for me the funniest thing about China is that is impossible to talk about it in the present tense, for when you do, you’re already out of date.

However, I don’t know what tense, let alone what language I’ll be talking in Monday evening after over 40 sleepless hours. Should be fun.

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