From all my wild and weird stories from visiting the People’s Republic of China I’ve decided to compile some of the most memorable into a list of short stories. If you want to read all of them, with my other tales from China, please click on the category ‘China Short Stories’ to the right of this page. These are not posted in chronological order.
After a heavy night of clubbing in Nanjing, China, where the colour of my fair English skin and blonde hair was my coupon to copious free whiskey and mixers, I was sat opposite my future ex-travel companion planning our next move.
“I want to go to Henan province. That poster in the train station of that big rock looked amazing. It’s like you don’t want to travel anywhere, I want to travel and go here and do stuff.” He said to me.
This wasn’t really what I was trying to communicate to him, I came traveling to travel, sorry to state the obvious but it’s true, I don’t know where he was getting my non-traveling vibe from but unfortunately like many conversations we had in our time together he just didn’t get or wanted to agree with what I was trying to say. What I was actually trying to tell him was; if he wants to go to Henan province we need to research where to go, where to get the train to, we can’t just turn up and look for a giant rock which looks amazing.
He opened the Lonely Planet guide on China, which we were kindly given by a friendly Israli guy back in Beijing. The capital of Henan province? Zhèngzhōu. We should go there, he said.
He passed the book over to me and I began to read. Although I can’t remember all of Lonely Planet’s paragraph on the city, its introduction on the website rings a few memory bells: “The provincial capital of Hénán since 1949, Zhèngzhōu is a sprawling mini-metropolis that, despite its ancient history, retains fewer historical anachronisms than some of its neighbouring cities. The quickly modernising town is not unattractive – with clean, wide boulevards lined with numerous upmarket boutiques and shops branching off around the train station – but its role as a major rail transport junction in the region is the real reason it’s the capital city.” I’ve bolded the parts which spoke to me the most at the time.
“Hmmm…” I said, then flicked over the page to Luòyáng. I remember reading something along the lines off: lucious parks sit and serve as Luòyáng’s green lungs, the ancient city’s Old Town lies past Lijing Gate and the Longmen Grottoes, thousands of statues of Buddha carved into the limestone cliff and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies just south of the city. The famous Shaolin temple was not too far from here either!
“It looks like Zhèngzhōu is just a transport hub and Luòyáng has more things to see and do there, maybe we should get the train straight to Luòyáng?” I passed the book back, but not to a very pleased listener.
“But it’s the capital of the province. It can’t just have no-thing there.” The unmovable moan of his voice, I was becoming familiar to it, I know when I hear it arguing against him would do me no justice and only raise his thick barrier of not taking any other suggestion into consideration. Full-stop.
And despite discovering no hostels for Zhèngzhōu on either Hostelworld or Hostelbookers and only one guesthouse or an expensive hotel listed in the Lonely Planet I still felt his barrier getting taller and greater. There was a phone number for the small guesthouse which was actually located in the train station, so he got up and asked some Chinese guys sitting at reception next to us, one of them called the number and might have made us some sort of reseveration. There was no escape.
“Alright, let’s book our ticket to Zhèngzhōu tomorrow then.” I said.
To be continued…