China is celebrating three days of public holiday. It is New Year.
We left home five days ago and have travelled for three. We have been in the school for two days only, and we are already on holiday!
We have not, however, been doing nothing!
The journey from our home in Knysna to Lanzhou was long and extremely exhausting.
We started with a drive from Knysna, then a plane from George to Joburg, followed by a plane to Beijing and another to Lanzhou.
As with all journeys time become irrelevant, the lights inside the Air China aeroplane during the Joburg Beijing leg changing from pale pink to pale blue to pale lemon. Our dozing was interspersed with meals served by a number of beautiful Chinese people, with the ‘sort of scary if you think about it’ sound of the engines, punctuated by South African voices asking for Bloody Mary cocktails (greeted with a confused Chinese frown) and raucous laughter from another group of 4 from SA who all wore t-shirts saying ‘The 4 Musketeers’
Oh, how we are going to miss you all…
Lex and I joined a very elderly smiling Chinese man at the back of the plane occasionally. He was doing a kind of Tai Chi, having stepped over the sleeping young man in his aisle seat with extreme agility, by making use of the armrests of the seats.
Our stretches were not nearly as good as his, but he smiled at us never the less and beckoned to us once to show us a small beautiful island through the back window. I missed it – how fast the plane flies- but Lex glimpsed it. I imagined a little green jewel in a wide blue sea, seen through some wispy white clouds.
Later we changed planes, and the red-eye from Beijing was filled with Chinese businessmen. It was early morning, but I was past all that, having gained 6 hours somewhere en route.
At baggage collection in Beijing, I was vague and dreamy. It did not help that, whilst waiting there, I seemed to be surrounded by a cloud of the most entrancing creatures that I had ever seen. All Chinese – they were a host of beings, some in long pink coats with pink fur encircling faces fringed with glossy black hair, and others in very long puffy black jackets and platform trainers, and there were those with Miss Kitty rucksacks worn over extraordinary camo jackets and others wearing round spectacles and all of them were topped with shiny sleek black hair. Some of these wonderful beings had little creatures in tow, with the sweetest faces and sticking out ponytails and little high voices calling out.
I needed sleep.
And my suitcase never arrived in Beijing. And Lex’s suitcase never arrived in Lanzhou. We were clothes-less!
I had done my best to find my case in Beijing. Lex stood in a queue(!) to get our bags through customs for our next flight, while I ran, yes ran, between him and the hopeless carousel with someones’ unclaimed pink metallic case slowly and sadly circling. Mine never appeared!
I tried again later, passing each time past a very tired (eventually he was actually slumped over and sleeping) guard guy until I gave up.
Lex’s bag arrived yesterday at the school. I still await mine. I wear his clothes. Perhaps it’s for the best. He might not have so easily worn mine.