PART223a day in Beijing getting Sarahs and mines x ray


 getting sTuesday, 7th, September, 2010.
Awaken in a cold pool of sweat on the train. Thankfully I had the good sense to
take my only shirt off before bed the night before so I only soaked the bed
sheets. This cold sweating I am forced to experience is running me thin on the
frying pan if you know what I mean. I dressed groggily and found that one of my
socks was missing, I peeled them off late at night and left them at the foot of
the bed and I recon one fell off and someone thought it was rubbish and threw
it in the bin. So I only had one sock and it felt weird and I wanted another one
quite badly, like a lost limb, but I couldn’t have one. Sarah found this all
very funny.

 

 My
left foot noticeably sweaty and cooler than the right we made our way out of
the massive Beijing train station, past all the shifty looking people who where
loitering with intent, aggressive searching eyes. Past them and onto the road
to where we caught a bus just up the road, it was about 8 in the morning by
that point and the road was jammed and it took an hour to get up the road to
our destination. Without a doubt it would have been quicker to walk. Compared
to Xinzhuo, Beijing is a world apart. Tall shiny buildings, executive looking office
workers, stylish girls and modern cars zooming along the roads partially obeying
the road laws as opposed to full ignoring them. A heavy damp air, which you can
feel leaving diposits on your skin. There are just so many people.

 

 Eventually we arrived at our destination, the
SOS hospital, We entered and I was surprised to find two English women working
behind a desk chatting seriously to each other. I almost waved at them but then
realized that they probably see loads of fellow foreigners everyday and its no
longer a surprise to see them, unlike myself who is starved from contact with
non Chinese people, It struck me today that foreigner just means someone who is
out of their own country, or does it mean someone who isn’t the same race as yourself?.
We went down some shiny clean stars with a big sign above saying “please hold
on to the banister”, it was very odd to see such a sign in China. I think the molly
coddling health and safety ways of the UK are infecting this small western hospital.
Not a bad thing at all in such an unsafe place as China. We had a short wait in
a bright white sparkling waiting room. The whole hospital made me think of what
heaven would be like. There where Chinese but also many other colored people in
the waiting room, it was as if we were all dead and where just waiting to get
into heaven. “ Mr. Johnson?, Ah yes we are sorry to say that your application
for a heaven visa was declined, You really should have put Christian instead of
Jedi when you where filling in which religion you held to, please take the door
on your far left and don’t mind the flames you will probably get used to them
after a few millennium”

 

A short while later after the quick zap of
radiation we both got our x rays and thankfully without even a whiff of TB, we
walked along the main road, cars occasionally beeping, small cloths shops on either
side and then turned right past a very expensive black and green hotel, Though
a small ally with a few sullen workers moodily smoking cigarettes and then out
to a wide river blocking our path “do not swim, do not fish” Said a small blue
sign rusting and having a hard time keeping its head above the encroaching
foliage which was set along the banks of the river, As Sarah translated this we
saw a man breast stroking his way in a straight line in the middle of the
river, We walked to the bridge to cross over and a hoard of old men where
perched on it with fishing lines dangling in the flowing water, on the far side
of the lake a protruding wooden walkway was home to a cluster of seated bent
men all chatting away with their fishing rods drooping the line out into the
river. I don’t think Chinese people like to be told what to do.

 

After crossing the bridge we came to the
embassy area. High walled barbed wire fences and guards patrolling, we walked
down one street passing the Iran, Nederland’s, Israeli, Canadian and Afghani embassies.
We eventually arrived at the tall building which housed a multitude of visa
offices including the New Zealand office. While I waited an entertaining
promotional video of New Zealand which seemed to imply that New Zealand literally
had it all and Sarah handed in her x ray sheet and I asked if I could hand mine
in as well. The man behind the screen looked board and annoyed when I asked
him, he clearly didn’t know and in the end we left with my x ray still in hand,
I found out from a friendly worker as we took the elevator back down to the
lobby that I should send it to the Hong Kong or new Zealand office instead. I don’t
think a foreigner has ever applied for a New Zealand visa in Beijing before.

 

 We
had lunch in a French restaurant and half way thought the forgettable average
meal of salad, soup and assortments of meat I popped off to the loo, I chose
the western style loo on the left as opposed to the Chinese squat one in the
right cubical. I finished my business without upset and then exiting the
cubical I failed to take into account the two steps leading down to the floor.
I stepped onto nothing and fell smack on my face right on the bathroom floor, I
leapt up like a disgraced cat who has just fallen off a bed and looked around relieved
to find there was no witnesses. I thought about last week when I went to the massage
flat and as I was waiting for one of the masseur to finish I casually leaned
and put my wait on one of the beds, I managed to pick the head hole in the bed
which was sneakily camouflaged with a drawn white sheet across it. My hand of
course disappeared down the head hole like a booby trap as I floundered around
wondering what the hell was going on. I hope this sort of prattish behavior isn’t
going to become a habit.

 

We sat in the restaurant after we had
finished eating and watched the masses of foreigners passing by going to and
coming back from work, They must all be workers at the embassies, they where smartly
dressed unlike the majority of scruffy pack packers one encounters here, Lots
of tramps went past rattling their tins at the workers, but they just walked
past them blank faced and embarrassed. Sarah and I where both feeling very
tired at this point in the day, it was 2 o’clock and after a meal and the whole
morning walking around I just wanted to go to sleep. We went to a western bar
and I was surprised to see a Guinness on tap, I ordered one and watched in
mounting disappointment and horror as the waitress poured a small can of Guinness
into the pump machine and it poured out into the glass giving it a frothy head,
and it cost40 Yuan!, that’s more expensive than the UK!. I moodily sipped the
drink and we left sharpish before my death rage escalated. Sarah philosophically
said “ Its good you had that drink, because if you didn’t you would have regretted
not having a proper beer when you came to Beijing” I mussed thoughtfully, It’s
better to have done and regretted than never to have done and regretted. Maybe

 

In the evening we met up with Lu Yuen, one
of Sarah’s old friends and we went and watched “the expendables” directed and starring
Sylvester Stallone, It had a star studded cast of action heroes, Stallone, Schwarzenegger,
Jet li, Rourke, Lungrun, Willis, Stathan and many more besides. The thing which
hit me the most was how deformed Mickey Rourke, Stallone Arny and Dolf lungrun
looked, they looked like tired old drag queens with fading make up on putting
on a last act, a far cry from the rippling muscle glistening super human heroes
they used to play. It’s not sad that they are getting old, it’s sad that they
are pretending to play characters that are young and tough. The film was just
one big explosion after another to the point of being ridiculous. The fight
scenes where ropy as all the stars where too old to do any decent stunts. You
can always tell if the actors are not up to scratch in the fighting department,
because the camera man does a lot of nifty choppy camera work quickly zooming
in to close up. So that the actors don’t have to do too many moves in one go.
In contrast if you watch a good Chinese kung fu film the camera is often in a
wider shot and you see the athletic actors rifling thought move after move so
that you can see them all connected. In “the expendables” there where plenty of
close ups and choppy angles to give the illusion of a good fight, unfortunately
it didn’t work. In my eyes it just shows that even when money and experienced actors
are involved it doesn’t guaranty a good film. Just because you have the right
ingrediance doesn’t mean you mix it well. I came out of the film instantly
forgetting it and we said good bye to Lu yuen and traveled back to the train
station. I was relieved to by lying down again and after writing some notes for
a new short story I sunk a small can of beer and fell fast asleep. A long day
is one gladly brought to a close.

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