Monday, December 15, 2008

Flashback: Aborted China Diary, 2002

Stephanie and I are sifting through old papers, looking for stuff to throw away. The air is thick with the dust we've stirred up and we are sneezing profusely, burning through a box of tissues as our sinuses run rampant.

I discovered that on my trip to China several years ago, I had attempted to keep a journal. It didn't last. Here's what I had.

Wednesday, 6/5/02


We're weaving through Beijing and I don't know which way is up. You can't tell how big the city is because you can't see more than a half mile through the fog. We could be going back and forth and I wouldn't know it. I wish I knew Chinese characters better. I wish I had my textbook. I wish I had my tape recorder.*

People walk in the streets and ride bikes out into lanes totally without regard.


The hotel toilet seat says: "No leaning backward." As if you'd want to just relax by reclining against the underside of a toilet lid.

It's nicer at night because you can't see the smog, just the colorful glow of brightly-lit signs in the darkness.

We went through some malls near the hotel and Tammy proposed we go to drink so we each had a beer and I had some probably undercooked lamb kabobs. This was with the guy chaperoning us, whose friend and brother showed up to hang out too. There's no drinking age here, which is sensible, especially since everyone drives like they're drunk anyway.


Morning TV: A horrible ad whose extensive use of questionably accurate computer graphics tries to convince people to take a pill that will grow their bones.**

*I think at the time I was trying to do that writer thing you see in movies where they narrate into a tape recorder instead of writing things down. It always seemed like it would be easier, but the problem is that you feel really self-conscious when you actually do it, and then you have to transcribe it all later anyway.

**Chinese people are desperate to be taller. This pill promised to make them taller by stretching their bones. A computer animated simulation showed how your leg bones would grow longer if you took the pill. It looked like it would be really painful if it were actually real.

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