The plane set down in Hong kong at about 10，0 clock in the morning。 I was very very weary。 I had not slept for a day and a half。 After collecting my heavy bags I made my way by bus from the air port into the centre of the Koloon side of Hong Kong。 My mission was to get a 3 month visa for mainland China and then travel over the border from Hong Kong to Shenzhen。
I knew that the bus would take me near to the visa office but I didnt remember exactly were it was。 I was a bit nervus because if I didnt find it by 12 0 clock then I would have to wait untill the next day for to pick up My passport. I was not really in the mood to hang around for an extra day. Seeing as rooms are so expencive in Hong Kong and they are basically little prisons oftain with no windows with just enough space to walk in and sit down on the small bed。 Thats been my experiance。
Luckily as the bus came into Nathen road I recognised the street that led to the visa office。 I got off and headed toward the new mandarin plaza。 After a few bloks I remembered that spine crushing feeling of wairing a big back pack and walking a long way。 I arrived at the office sweaty and hot。 I handed over my passport and a photo and was asked to come back at 6 0 clock。 I wondered around Hong Kong seeing as I had some free time till 6。 I spent a good amount of time trying to workout how to use the pay phones, trying out the different codes and slowly working up a rage as the bloody phone was not doing what I wanted it to do. Finally I stumbled across the right sequence of numbers and managed to make a call to Sarah in Xin Jaio。
I had enough time to tell Sarah that I had arrived and that I would see her in a couple of days, the pay phone was gobbling up my money and I ran out of coins and the phone went dead. I panicked and suddenly I miss Sarah more than usual.
I went into some computer games arcades but I didnt feel like playing anything once I had got in, Which was wierd seeing as I usually get very excited at the prospect of an arcade。There was a internet cafe attached to the arcade so I enterd and asked how much for an hour. "20 dolllars" said the unhealthy over wieght and thoughaly bored looking young vampire man at the counter. It was rediculously expencive so I gave an appropriet wide eyed scoff and informed the gentleman that I was not interested. I then returned to the visa office。
I knew from past experiances in Hong Hong that my passport would arrive early, so I headed back to the office and waited。 Sure enough at five I was given my visa。
I then got the train to the border and crossed over quickly。 There were alot of people wearing masks and sitting at desks with heat monitors to see if any one had swine flu。For some reason which totaly escapes me I tried to make my self hot, I help my breath and made all the blood go to my head, I walked extra fast and pumped my luggage up and down with my arms as well. Thankfully it did not attracht the attention of the masked people although I was a bit dissapointed that it didnt.
Coming into Shenzhen from Hong Kong can be a shock， Hong kong has just enough western influence to make it familiar but as soon as you get into Shenzhen you truly get into china。 Dirty, hot, people asking for money or offering you services。 People staring at you. Some friendly people who are just suprised to see a foregner. Others whos eyes latch on to you like a vulture thinking about how they can get as much of money as possible from another helpless old goast。
Cindy came to collect me from the Border, I would be staying with her for a couple of days untill me flight left for Tai yuan。 Sarah and I met Cindy in Yang Shuo a few years ago。 She is very smiley， So much so infact that she is a bit worried about the wrinkels she is getting from smilling so much。 Cindy picked me up and we went back to her flat where I had a rest.
The next day we went to a bar that a couple of her friends owned。 We sat down out side and drank some beer。 Because beer was so expensive in penang I hardly drank at all， but now that I was back in China beer was rediculously cheap again。 The bar was basically a hole in a building with some tables and a fridge and chairs.I faced the street and noticed that there was a large number of beautiful chinese girls walking down the street。 One thing I like about chinese girls is that they are not affrade to star at you， so I could sit down at the bar and watch the girls go past as they watched me。 Its because they do not see many western people so they are sometimes a bit suprised and just star open mouthed。 I told Cindy about the beutiful women and she agreed that Shen Zhen has many。 “Its because lots of people come to Shen Zhen to work so there are people from all over china trying to get a good job in this fast growing city"。 Cindy also turned her chair around to face the street and joined me in the girl watching。 We found out that we both had very different tasts。 Many of the girls which I though were beutiful Cindy said were very ugly。 We thought this was because westeners and chinese have different ideas of what is beutiful。 For instance chinese people think it is very beutiful to have a big nose and big eyes and white skin。 Basically the things which the majority of chinese women do not have。 Apparently the girls I found beutifull were very common looking with small eyes according to Cindy。
We also tried looking for hansome men for Cindy but we gave up quickly as she informed me that she didnt really like southern men because they are to small and skinny。 Cindy likes tall men with more meat on them。 When the boss of the bar saw that we were ingrossed in something he asked what we were doing。 When Cindy told him he also pulled up a chair and joined in with us。
When the number of beutifull girls dwindeld we went to a barbicue resteraunt and orders chicken wings and legs in spicy sauce and a large bowl of fish soup。 It had lots of chillys in it and also small peppers which are popular in the Si Chuan provence。 When you get one in your mouth and bit down on one your tounge will start to tingle alot and feel like it is vibrating its very unusual。 After we orderd the food we went back to the bar and waited for them to bring us the food。
It came quickly and we all got stuck in. The owner of the bar asked me " how much can you drink?". A common question in china, one which should wisly be ansewed with "i cannot drink very much" If you dont want to be forced to drink a silly amount. I did want to drink a silly amount so I said that I could drink alot. Swiftly a bottle of gin was brought out and I was poured a large glass and many beers were placed on the table. We were all enjoying our selfs when a police van drove past. A pissed off police man with his head stuck out of the window saw me and shouted to the drinver to stop. Before I knew it there were 4 or five policemen around the table and I was asked "give me your passport please". For some reason I had not brought it out with me in my bum bag, Before we had come out I had looked at it and thought it would be best if I left it at Cindys flat incase it got stolen or something like that. Very quickly Cindy cut in in Chinese and started a heated discussion with the police. Both the policeman and Cindy were shouting now and wagging fingers at each other, The boss and his wife and a couple of other people were also shouting at the policemen. Thinking that something might kick off I meekly told Cindy that I didnt mind going back and getting my passport. Dismissing me with a swish of her hand she kept on shouting at the policemen. The policeman seemed overwhelmed and eventually they all got back in there van and screeched off, with a unfortunate in the back of the van with his hands clasped around the barred window.
I had thought that we would all have a big discussion about this but everyone just got on with the eatting like nothing had happened. "why did he want me passport Cindy" "Oh he was being unreasonable, something about your safty and that you have to stay in a foregners hotel and register within 24 hours of being in Shen zhen or you will get a 500 yuan fine, I lied and said that your had just arrived and that you were going in the morning". This was of course a lye, I had been there more than 24 hours.
That was that, end of subject.
I remember being at one of Nigels Tai Chi seminars in England and he asked me if I had seen anyone arguing or attacking the police while I was in China. I had not and I was suprised when Nigel told me that it happens alot.
The day after I said farwell to Cindy. She is planning to travel around New Zealand next month so she is very excited about her trip. That reminds me of a question some one asked in a film. " theres New York which is like York but New, then theres New England which is also like England but New. So if theres New Zealand were is Zealand?.". A good question I think.
Anyway I got a Taxi to the air port and found out that Sarah had told me to get there far too earlie。 She has done this before and for good reason， seeing as I have a habit of getting to the departures fag papers before the plan leaves， I have even missed a couple of flights。 But this time I was actually early 。 So I waited and finaly got on the plane and headed towards the north and Sarah。
I was very excited to see Sarah again and I was also looking forward to doing some wrestling again。 When I got to the air port Sarah was waiting for me， She looked very different and I realised she was wairing make up for the first time。 She looked very beutiful and I held her hand threw the bars as I waited for my luggage。 When I got out We had a long kiss and a hug it was as if I had never gone away。We didnt really talk， I have noticed that we do not talk much when other people are around。 It may be to do with the lack of privicy in China and that I am always aware of people looking at me. I do understand that I am quite unusual to look at in the eyes of many Chinese. I am a tall, lanky white and red faced in a provence which for the most part has rarely see a white man in the flesh。
It reminds me of Forest row were I come from。 There are people from all over the world but There are hardly any black people。 I remember at school there was one boy who was black and also in a wheel chear。 One of my less subtle friends would stare at him and looked at him with great interest。 He once asked him “ are your arms strong from the wheel chair？” “they are stronger than yours you fucking idiot” replyed the whell chair bound boy。
That sort of reply holds the same essence that I sometimes feel when I get a loud tiresome “HELLO？” on the street or some one comes up and feels my arm hair。 Thats not as bad as what Nigel told me. When he was working in Baijing as a english teacher in the 80s his students and others at the university would follow him to the loos and watch him and try and check that everything was the same as them。
On the subjest of Chinese people looking at westeners bits。 After a rest for a day back in Sarahs mum and dads flat （I will just refer to the as Mum and Dad from now on as thats what I do in real life）。We went to mums work which is a Communist hotel with pictures of Mao, Marks Starlin and other communists hung up in the lobby。 We went there because the water and electricity were both out at home， apparently a regular occurence around here I learned。
So we went to have a shower at the hotel， I had envisaged that we would get our own room and have a shower and that would be that。 We infact went to the communal shower which leads to the hot spring pools。 As I entred the changing room the woft of hot stail urine invaded my nostarls. And the sight of a foregner invaded the eyes of a poor old man who was changing and he cried out and fall back onto the wooded bench behind him in suprise。 I was feeling very self concious so I left my boxer shorts on and took a shower with many eyes on me。 I didnt want to change infront of everyone so I waited untill everone left， It took till I had used about three quarters of the shower gel bottle till the crowed of people had got bored and left。 Thankfully I found a plastic bag which I put my boxers into。 It helped avoid the orquard question of “why are you holding your sopping wet underpant in your hand?”。 “Oh I just didnt really feel like everyone starring at my nob while I showerd”。 To the credit of the chinese that question would cause a considerable loss of face so it would not be asked。
Anyway I had a weeks break and slept and ate far to much and had the same sort of feeling as the week around christmas。 During this time the wrestling coach invited me to watch a competition。 I went along and Was suprised and glad to see many of the people I had met before competing or just watching in the small games stadion just around the corner from the wrestling room。More suprisingly and scarily I was asked if I wanted to compeat。 Of course I said yes as I didnt want to let coach Ma down。 It was not a big competition really so I was not very nervus。 I was pited against a older man who I think they just grabbed of the street。 “hay who wants to wrestle a foregner？” “ I do！”。 So I went up against him he grabbed my t shirt and ripped it a bit， he said sorry and gestured that we both take our shirts off。 As I wipped off my shirt and the glarring reflection of my white body blinded the small audiance a massive roar went up as if to say “ITS ON！”。 It was not really on. I went for a lef grab and he managed to get his hand under my throat and extend his leg and spun me over。 This old guy had some skill it seemed。 Not that that was a suprise seeing as most of the people who I respect as martial artists are over or about 50。 He then grabbed my leg and I almost managed to push him to the ground but he pulled me down with him and that was enough to win him the match。 Coach Ma corrected where I had gone wrong and then we sat down and watched the rest of the competition。