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Marco? Polo!

August 1, 2011

I think I’m being asked twice a day on average “are you excited?” regarding my little year-long trip across to the other side of the world in three weeks time.  Sadly, the answer is no.  Not one bit.  This is wholly due to the fact that there are still several thousand things to do between now and the 24th August, when we board that plane and set off in to the Sunrise.

Ask me again in two weeks, when I’ve finished work and approved the final proof of the book, completed all courses of jabs, receoved the work permits, turned them into Visas at the Chinese Embassy and booked our flights, and you will get a very different answer.  So, before my anticipation turns any blog entry in to an unending childlike rant about how amazing everything is, I thought this might be a good time to lay down our itinerary for the trip, as far as it currently stands:

1. Beijing – as all international flights connect through either here or Shanghai.  Not that we’ll see much of the city, other than outside the wondows of an airoplane.  Still, a good few hours will be whiled away sleeping and becoming scared by how indecipherable Chinese Kanji is to my ignorant, untrained eye.

2. Mianyang – second most livable city in China, and our permanent base for the next eleven months.  We’ll be Teaching English as a Foreign Language at the local university, thankfully to people who already speak English but just want to learn it better.  Got to appreciate the irony there.  I’ll also be looking for a local Wing Chun school – hopefully one with an esotoric Grandmaster with a long white beard and a penchant for meniacal laughter whilst flying through the air backwards, but I’ll settle for one who knows his stuff and is open to teaching a clumsy, 6′ 2″ white guy with no gasp whatsoever of of the local lingo.

3. Pandas – yes, Pandas!  Mianyang is right next to the Chinese National Park, and Panda retreat where the cute cuddly oversized raccoons are sheltered, protected and encouraged to watch panda porn.  No really, they are – check if you don’t believe me.

4. Tibet – in October we get a week off, and plan to visit Tibet during this week – hopefully via the new train link that takes you up and over the Himalayas, straight in to Lhasa, oxygen masks included in the price.

5. The Shaolin Monastery – apparently (I admit this probably requires further research) you can actually stay at the Shaolin Monastery these days, sleeping in a bare cell with no creature comforts and get up with the sun for a full day martial arts training.  I suspect I have neither the physique or stamina for this but there is, in the end, only one way to find that out.

6. The Phillipines – the flat we will be staying in is not, how should I put it, palacial in its standards or decor and after six months in it we’ll be yearning for something a little more pampered; hence the plan to spend a few weeks having one of those white sands & cocktails holidays you see in the brochures.  But we get a whole month off in Feburary, so this will be closely followed by…

7. Borneo – to give bananas giant orange monkeys.

8. China – this will all, of course, be punctuated with trips to the Great Wall of China, Beijing, the First Emperor’s Tomb, the Terracotta Army, the Stone Forest, Yellow River, and a great many other local attractions that will all find their airing o this blog at some point in the future

9. Hong Kong – the end of our adventure will be marked by a trip to the busiest city on earth, to try and train with the Grandmaster of Wing Chun, Ip Chun, if he takes students of the aforementioned description.

Quite a year – but the scariest thing about the whole trip is that no matter how much we cram in, we can’t get away from the fact that we’ll be back in Bristol and back to business as usual by this time next year – and all will be a distant, and fading memory.

The journey starts here…


From → Personal, Travel

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