Happy amongst friends

Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
Trip End Jun 04, 2006

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Thursday, April 6, 2006

This being China, I arrived with no plans, no schedule and not too much idea what I'd do from day to day. After all, when in Rome... I'd not forgotten the realisation that here in Dongguan anything is possible at the last minute, but rarely before. It suits me fine!! All I knew was that I had a list of people I hoped to see, a blank sheet of paper with the coming days scribbled on it and a flight from Shanghai on April 19th.

So far, my time seems to have been spent getting up late morning, just in time for lunch. This is the ideal way to start a holiday. Maybe the afternoon sees a walk in the park, a tea or a cold beer, a nack, a chat with another friend, then dinner, and maybe a late evening visiting the bar or setting the world to rights over a few beers at home. Above all, it's been great to see people whose company I enjoy. I hadn't forgotten how many lovely people I know here, but I'd forgotten how good being with them can make me feel - or maybe it's I'd just got out of the habit of being with people I want to be with after being sent to work in Scotland. I can feel, my mind, my body, my sense of humour, and my general well-being reawakening. I feel as if a curtain on my lucidity has been drawn and I'm waking up having been in a kind mental hibernation. I've even found that my Chinese is still working and have had the odd blitz of talking although it wears me out pretty quickly.

A few of the things I remember are a wonderful laughing dinner at Sam's where the home cooked food was great. There was Tepanyaki in one of the rash of new Japanese restaurants here and the analysis of the stainless steel cutting and cooking surface with built in rubbish chute being "a man's kitchen". I sat crying with laughter at some crazy road movie with Victor and then somehow we seriously discussed the concept of flying turtles (don't ask!). Even planning a barbecue was more chaotically fun than I'd have guessed, primarily because I forgot who I'd invited to come! It has also been amusing to observe from the outside how the local expat bar is the equivalent of the village shop in Britain of yore, where if you want to know who's where, or doing what, you just ask Jason. Meeting the dogs Odie and Harry in there was amusing too. Suddenly one was sat on the bar stool next to me and the other was emptying his bowels under the pool table.

When it comes to people, it's amazing how small a city of 7.5 million people is. I've unexpectedly met people I didn't think I'd ever see again, and my friends have found that they share mutual acquaintances. I've been delighted to spend time with my friends and to enjoy myself without doing or planning anything outrageous. It's just enough to sit and eat and drink and talk. The only casualty has been my phone which kept running out of credit and power. It was a blessing in disguise to lose it after too many kamikazes on an empty stomach! Now I can slow down a bit and recover from what had for a few days turned into a whirlwind social schedule. I can just spend a last few days with a few close friends. I'm happy, cheerful and refreshed and the feeling is a great reminder of the value of running your own life and having your own time to share with people you think are good company and want to be around.
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