Okay people, we are back. Lots and lots of stories. I managed to fill in 86 pages in my journal and so you shall not be spared. Though in the interests of laziness, I shall probably do only conversations. For pictures and explanations, you can pain BM.
But before we begin, random trip notes in no particular order:
1. Recurring theme #1: Reconstruction and resettlement under banner of development. People moved from city centres to somewhere relatively far away as ancient buildings are constructed in city centres. Scary the first time we encountered it but very used to it by the end of the trip. There seemed to be no discrimination between provinces in this regard.
2. I can die happy now that moi makes an appearance in at least 43 family albums across China. Thats about 25% of pictures I was asked to be in. BM is all jealous that she got asked only 62 times.
3. The further West one goes, stronger the opinions. Foreign devils and Revolutions talked about more, invasions not so much, rather, not at all.
4. Recurring theme #2: TR aka Monkey King. The holy book is called TR-nama (see picture below). BM and Bill are Peter and Paul and two more devoted followers, you shall not find.
5. Ethnic minorities aka Other nationalities. This nation comprises of a number of nationalities. Anyone who is not Han Chinese is other nationality.
6. Recurring theme #3: Over-ordering food. The amount of food we wasted could have fed the whole of the Western Regions.
7. We learnt from (the totally entertaining) China Daily that expat husbands are no longer wanted in the country. 'Normal guy' is in demand in the current economic climate.
8. While on the subject, we were also told that in Northern China, macho and generous men are preferred. In the South, milky, intellectual men are quite the rage. There's still some hope for pimping out Bill, I guess. Just need to move to Southern China.
9. BM wants to be Empress at Jiayuguan Fort - BM Zetian! Bill wants to be General. The plan is for Bill to write proposal for funding to build a fort to test security of programming languages or something. Lost on me. But I was told I will be given money to travel and build caves. Happiness.
10. Nobody asks us for food preference in airplanes. By default, they gave us food marked "Muslim". Not that we are complaining.
11. Freedom above all. Freedom to get lost in a country where you don't know a word of the language, freedom from translators and drivers. BM and Bill even did a celebratory dance on the train to celebrate new found freedom on the night train back to homebase Beijing.
12. Last day in China, our food consists of Subway sandwich, Haagen Daas scoop and a burger. Freedom indeed!
13. Recurring theme #4: Street and Subway cleaning. If you have over a billion people who need to have jobs, perhaps this is the way to do it. Clean everything every five minutes.
I am looking through my journal and there are far too many, so I shall stop here for now and do this properly over the next few days..weeks..err..months.
Oh, wait, before I go, pictures for people. More (and better ones) over at BM's as and when she posts.
For Space Bar
A hutong Cat for the Cheshire Cat
For Feanor - this counts as translation too, no?
For Luddo - BM has the engine I think
For TR - Original plan was to bury this in Chini Bagh but in the interest of time, left at hotel in Kashgar
Falsie: Of course you aren't spared. BM's got a long list of pictures in your honour. Wait.
??!: You are just too difficult. I have gone through my entire set and can't find one for you unless I stretch it really far. I have delegated job to BM now.