I’m surprised that no one has had the wherewithal to turn an airport security check into a script for a porn film. Enter one side and everyone keeps to themselves, looking clean cut and proper for their flight. Come out the other side and everyone is trying to get their stuff back in order; Shoes are missing, men are all trying to get their belts back through the loops, and everyone is trying as hard as possible to get their shirts tucked back into their pants. And just because we are all in such a hurry, it can’t look much short of people making a run for it following a one night stand.
I arrived in Beijing to the smell that greeted me the last time, a strange, acrid thickness that clings to the air. It was a particularly smoggy arrival, and the horizon extended just to the edge of the tarmac and not much further. Seems fitting for entry into one of the world’s more polluted cities. Customs was uneventful, and with little fanfare, I set foot into China for the second time.
And now I find myself sitting in the Lobby of the Bell Tower Youth Hostel, writing this sorry entry post for all of you out there. Arriving in any new country has always left me with a strange feeling of limbo; I’m sure that I’m no longer at home, but I don’t quite feel that I have arrived at the place I was headed. This is particularly so with China, where it can be quite difficult to label what makes this place so different from others. It is a massive sensory experience, one in which everything matches the framework of your normal reality, except that you can’t really get things to line up just right. There are cars here, but they neither look nor drive quite the same as those at home. There are people here, and though I know what they are saying, I don’t completely understand them. A combination of jet lag and noise can lead your bring to go off the deep end.
But these feelings do pass, and when they do, this place becomes something completely of it’s own. It is certainly not the United States, and no other place, for that matter. It is China, and it is huge. It is full of new, but it is heavily directed by things of old. I hope that this will be a chance for me to convey some of these dualities within the space of this site once more. For now, I’m going to nurse this trans-polar/Siberian/Pacific hangover and try to get myself oriented once again.