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December 29, 2015

The Scorpion King

I woke to a distinctly strange sensation. I wasn’t sure quite what it was at first. Then I got it. It was one of stillness and a total lack of movement in any direction. I reached for my clock to find out what the time was, but it wasn’t on the table next to my berth. In fact there was then a further incomprehensible discovery. There seemed to be no edges to my bed at all – it stretched on and on in all directions, well beyond the dimensions of my compartment. It took my brain about 30 seconds to wake from a deep sleep and realise I was in fact now in a Beijing hotel bedroom.
 
I haven’t tried to do too much on this stopover. Although I thought I was resting well on the train I clearly wasn’t getting the full amount of sleep as it took about 24 hours of mainly bed rest to get my full strength back.
 
A courier has delivered some of my tickets, including my next leg from Beijing to Lhasa. What is of some concern to me though is that I have no ticket out of Lhasa. It takes a few email exchanges with Moscow to discover that more than one local ticket agent has been used. So for now I have just a one way ticket to Lhasa and a photocopy of my Tibet permit. I hope this is enough to get on the train. My ticket is actually issued to a Mr “Matthew”. Whilst this would not work back home, in Chinese there may be some confusion about my family name, and my plan is now reliant upon this.
 

I have been enjoying much dim sum and crispy duck here. So much in fact that I had a message from hotel reception yesterday morning questioning my ability to settle my room account. After two weeks on the rails I think I’m due a bit of a splurge. 
 
I reached a bit of a low point yesterday when I thought that every person in Beijing must be trying to separate me from my cash. But just when you think everyone is against you, you meet someone very kind and from an unexpected quarter. 
 

In this case it is a bug chef in Wangfujing, the road famous for exotic snacks. He cooks the full range of scorpions, worms, star fish, and grubs. No Tarantulas are for sale, but I can make up for that in a few weeks time. He refuses to take any money from me and insists on sharing his wares and even taking my photograph.
 

One Comment on “The Scorpion King

Scott Gardner
January 11, 2016 at 1:58 pm

Great blog so far, keep up the great work. Look forward to reading about the rest of the journey. Good luck !

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