Day 642: Chinglish For Lovers

04.10.10: And the bus so pulled entered Chinese city Guangzhou and exited the ginger adventurer who you liked. If I have ridden a direct bus to Nanning (my under destination on the way to Vietnam), I will be late in the evening, and I will meet must discover the money bed and bed=waste, therefore (other) overnight bus as if future way, future way, future way, future way, way in the future… I jumped in the extraordinary Guangzhou subway have gotten down to the river, and enjoyed along strolling which took a walk, until I arrived at the Shamian island, first yielded to split between Britain and the French and without a doubt the most lovable spot in the city: The colony is magnificent, is forgiven despairs idiot wool anger and does not need important place destructive `cultural revolution (to makes human to want toward government apparatus…

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Days 640-641: Sino-Sino Relations

02.10.10-03.10.10: In answer to the question I posed at the end of the last blog: VERY EASILY.  Yup, just like the globe (thanks to oil companies and climate changer deniers), relations between China and Taiwan are warming.  In fact, they’re becoming positively cosy.  Just last year it would have been impossible for me, as a Johnny Foreigner, to travel directly from China to Taiwan and back.  I may have been able to do it on a cargo ship to Hong Kong, but to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t holding my breath. Hurrah then for THE MAN IN SEAT 61 (http://www.seat61.com) one of the best websites in the world for overlanders such as myself, and one I do not hesitate to recommend.  When I was in India, I set Odyssey fan Alex Zelenjak in Sydney the task of finding me a route to Taiwan.  It didn’t take…

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Days 630-639: Shanghaied In Shanghai

Day 630: A Moment of Terror 22.09.10 You know that stomach-dropping moment of terror you have when you realise that you’ve just, like really, really messed up?  I had one of those this morning.  Last week, when I did this trip in reverse, I put my GPS tracking device on the window sill next to my bed (economy class gives you a bunk bed in a room with 32 other people) as it likes to have a window to look out of in order to get a signal.  Nowt wrong with that, I collected it in the morning and all was dandy. However, on the return leg my bed was nowhere near the window.  I didn't want to leave my GPS thing there overnight as if some light-fingered gentleman did grab it, I would lose all my GPS tracks for the last couple of weeks: including…

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Days 624-629: How Do We Solve A Problem Like Korea?

DAY 624: DISMEMBERMENT 16.09.10: So I disembarked (hilariously described on the ferry’s website as ‘dismemberment’)... ...onto the native soil of country number 169, South Korea – a place at pains to remind you that it’s the only divided country in the world.  Which it is.  If you ignore Cyprus/Northern Cyprus. And Ireland/Northern Ireland. And Israel/Palestine. And North Sudan/South Sudan. And Somalia/Somaliland. And China/Taiwan. And Pakistan/Bangladesh. And Mongolia/Inner Mongolia. And Macedonia/Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. And Georgia/South Ossetia/Abkhazia. And Azerbaijan/Nagorno-Karabakh. And… But pedantry aside, North and South Korea have been officially at war for over fifty years now (there was only a ceasefire, not a peace treaty) and now we have a crazy situation in which the southern half of the country is one of the richest and most progressive in the world, while the northern half is a basketcase and something akin to George Orwell’s 1984,…

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Day 623: Guten Tag!

15.09.10: So Qingdao , what are you famous for?  Ah, you were a German concession town were you?  And you’re where the Tsingtao brewery is based?  Excellent.  I’ll have a pint.  What’s that?  It’s 50p? I’ll take two.  Ahh… My love affair with China (so much easier to navigate than anywhere in Africa, the Middle East or India ) undiminished, I arrived in Qingdao hoping to take the ferry to Korea today.  Seriously, if this was India, I would have had to give five months notice, spent three days trying to find the correct window and drafted a memo the length of the Gettysburg address to explain exactly why I wanted to get on the ferry (as well as supplying the mortal remains of my great grandfather to prove I’m not of Pakistani descent).  But this is China , so I just asked for a ticket, paid the money and got the ticket. Super. So I…

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Day 622: The Great Wall

14.09.10: Sometimes I had good days, sometimes I have bad days, sometimes I have days that are madder than Mad Jack McMad of the clan McMad.  Today was one of the mad days.  It all started at 2am when my bus pulled over at the side of the road and the driver’s mate gesticulated for me to get off.  Are we in Beijing already?  We’re four hours early… Sleepy-eyed and completely not with it, I got off (hoping I had grabbed all my stuff) and was herded onto another bus.  You see, my bus wasn’t full enough to justify going all the way to Beijing, so I was to get on another bus that was a little more full.  Well, make that TOTALLY FULL.  Which meant that for the next hour while all around me slept the sleep of angels in their little Chinese bunk beds,…

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Day 621: Innies and Outies

13.09.10: So there’s Inner Mongolia and there’s Outer Mongolia.  What’s the difference? I hear you cry… Well, it’s like this, see: half of the historic area of Mongolia is in China (that half being Inner Mongolia) and half of it is an independent and sovereign state which used to be called Outer Mongolia, but is now known by the more snappy and dynamic title of Mongolia. The same thing has happened thousands of miles away in the country of Macedonia, made famous as the birthplace of a certain Alexander who was apparently (like Peter, Britain and Frosties) GR-GR-GR-GREAT!  Unfortunately for the Macedonians, the Greeks who control the southern part of historic Macedonia won’t allow Macedonia the snappy and dynamic title of Macedonia (on the grounds that they own the lower half and they don’t want hapless holiday makers getting confused) nor will they allow the name…

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Days 618-620: Weekend at Bare Knees

10.09.10-12.09.10: I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed the sight of legs.  Girls legs, to be precise, pins that go all the way up, if you know what I mean.  Brutally and unfairly covered since I left Europe, damn I’ve missed them.  You guys in the Middle East and India must be like completely retarded or something, it’s all well and good saying it’s your culture to deny me a glimpse of a teenage hottie in hot pants but at the end of the day, you guys are like total idiots.  It’s like going to a houseparty to discover there’s no booze, all the girls have left and everyone is sitting around quietly reading Dostoyevsky. And tutting. Then again, if my daughter/sister/wife had an inch-thick monobrow and a moustache that rivalled Lord Kitchener’s, I’ll probably cover her up like some latter-day Elephant Man too. China,…

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Day 617: Raise The Red Lantern

09.09.10: Arriving groggy-eyed in the big Chinese Cheese that is Beijing, I had work to do.  First up, I needed to pick my second passport up from Fed-Ex. This may seem like a bit of a pedestrian thing to tell you, but if anyone is wanting to know the inner-workings of The Odyssey and perhaps one day replicate them this is the kind of thing you need to know.  Getting a Chinese visa in Nepal cancels any other Chinese visas in your passport.  To get around this (since I’m going to have to leave and re-enter China a bunch of times to get to Mongolia, Korea etc), I had hatched a cunning plan which involved my mum and dad getting me a double entry visa for China in my second passport and sending it over to me.  Well, actually – they sent it to Chris and…

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Days 606-616: Seven Days In Tibet

31.08.10-09.09.10:As I knew what I’d be like in the morning, I took a shower the night before because even though Kathmandu does offer hot showers (IN YOUR FACE, INDIA!) I decided it would be best to squeeze every last second out of sleeping as I could.  I’m not a morning person.  So up up bright and early (well not that bright, it was still dark, but it was early) and onto the minibus that would be taking me and a handful of fellow wayfarers over the border to the Forbidden Kingdom of Tibet.Now as you know, I’m a bit of an independent traveller, but the Chinese government don’t take kindly to westerners mooching around Tibet without a chaperone.  As a consequence and as there is simply NO OTHER WAY to get from India into China, I had to join a tour group.  It would take us…

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