. The bus breaks down frequently. When it does the drivers disappear underneath, burnishing spanners and more Tibetans appear miraculously and help to get it on its way again. If our bus runs smoothly the road is blocked by other buses or trucks that have broken down, often tipping ominously to one side.
My first trip to China (if you don’t count Hong Kong) was in the nineties. This was pre-digital camera when the images are scanned from old prints, so they are a little grey and dull. That’s pretty well how the weather was when I was there- and the smog. It was really a good route right up through the middle, with a wiggle to the west and Sichuan/Yunnan) taking in all the major tourist sights. In those days touring was still very controlled and there was a lot of army surveillance, hotels were dubious and the many diverse sights amazing
Despite the inauspicious date an evening flight (later than I’d intended because of last minute very annoying change by Cathay) to Hong Kong. I have arranged to meet friends Susanna and Irvin on their way to Australia on a month’s break. From the new airport the express train speeds me to the city in twenty minutes.
the biggest treat - being taken out to dinner at colonial and renovated Raffles Hotel. First the obligatory Singapore Sling in the Long Bar with the traditional peanut shells all over the floor. Next a buffet meal in the Tiffin room which specializes in lots of lightly spiced dishes. You can eat as much as you want. Very good
Japan is quite frightening when you first arrive-all modern and overwhelming and Oh My God how do I know where to go? Until you realise there are little English signs in most places under the Japanese script. And the locals, though shy and blushing, are helpful, when asked. Tokyo is huge and it takes forever to get across the city on the metro. Everyone sits very quietly. Some have their eyes shut. I wonder if they’ve fallen asleep or if they are meditating