I have been super stressed for days from the pre horror of travelling. Mostly based on the thought of being in close proximity to people I don’t know and can’t control, and sure as hens have teeth I find my self sitting on a bus, superheated, super packed, stinking of sweets, like children’s sweets, a sense that the whole interior is slightly sticky and hairy. I am forced to sit tight up to a string teen yoof, trackies tucked into white socks - hot or not? He - as is common amongst male teens - needs to vibrate vigorously for the entire journey. I think this is a bit of an animal thing, Guinea pigs do it; it suggests they are ready to mate. I think teens do it through learnt behaviour rather than the sheer pressure of semen seeking an exit. It is however extremely annoying. My own sex drive has diminished from what was probably a rather low level anyway – even as a teen I could only just tolerate annoying girls on the off chance of a shag – a sex drive does help a lot with tolerating other people. Anyway nowadays I have the libido of a eunuch in an old peoples home, which does greatly adds to my lack of tolerance. My tension over travelling is akin to a visit to the dentist for a double route canal. I am actively nervous before hand, my stomach turns over, it’s not a fear of flying - although there is that, it is really just the thought of unavoidable human interaction and my fear of that – in the unknown, will there be a wailing baby, a mobile screamer, a jigger, a laugher, a smeller, a bulimic, a talker, a incontinent, a leaner, a drinker, an agitated mover, an American, a movie watcher that laughs unfeasibly loudly, a farter, a snogger, a scouser, an eater, a drinker. I once advertised a room in my house as suitable for a small quiet oriental, a 21 stone Corstophine Scot moved in.

The train service has it seems really given up operating on a weekend, the station is deserted, and travel is by bus, I finally get a train in Preston and after having my seat in an empty carriage entirely taken over my Americans, who then proceed to clean the entire environs with wet wipes, well of course I moved as the fist wet wipe was eased from its wet reeking socket.

I attain a kind of peace. I have those sound block headphones which make you look like Phil Spector and probably feel like him too – anyway in the shooting models department. I did once sit next to a super model on an airplane - a story I have told many times, it was that German one who married an Magician. And boy was she annoying, I did eventually spill a gin and tonic into her bag as some consolation for the incessant chatter about health and wealth – obviously my libido had already dropped away at his point in my life.

The flight to Hong Kong was uneventful despite the plane being full packed; it was virgin like the train but definitely more bearable. The principle downside was a man behind me that spoke excitedly to his companion for the entire trip, and this irritation was tempered by empathy for the companion, I was tempted 10 hours into the flight to ask the man if he would allow a reply to his monologue? Just a faint word, just a whisper, a mumble from the silent companion.

Whoever suggested flying into Hong Kong and getting a bus to Guangzhou clearly had not attempted the trip in some time. 5 hours later and after multiple checks and double checks, through ‘no lingering’ areas, accompanied by the sound of Chinese pop, instrumental versions which Brian found wholly to his liking. He later asked our companions if they recognised the song - signing it to them – turned out to be ‘The East is Red’ a song Brian’s dad sang every morning.

Monday Morning we spent in Vitamin space and we had a nice lunch with Sue and Vincent and then a long drive to the village.

The programme was of course immediately punishing, a sense that no one was exactly pleased to see us pervaded. We met with people from the Eco development company and had dinner in the company restaurant. Followed by a meeting lasting a couple of hours. The most interesting bit of information was that the ambition for the village and the park was to become a centre for ‘silent Tourism’. An idea I have a great deal of sympathy for – I think they meant peace as a destination, rather than silent tourists – of which there is little sign in China. After a universally sleepless night we were up early for breakfast in the market place feeling a bit universally pole axed. The market was all local produce including fish, vegetables and a rather disappointing sign saying ‘it is forbidden to buy or sell wild animals’. We had warm liver porridge, very nice, Pork chow mien, super nice, rice noodles and leak broth, very nice, all washed down with warm Soya milk, very nice – there was the odd slightly anxious face in the group.

First visit of the day was to a farm. All laid out in perfect order, the complex watering systems each field draining into the next and raised beds within each paddy. Brian took special interest in the humanure composting system which also supplies gas for the cooker. Its basically 2 holes in the ground and a chute to take new waste to the base of the first chamber. We got a diagram drawn up for future reference. So this little plant provides cooking and fertiliser for the abundant crops and avoids the necessity of a complex sewage system. Not sure what the drawbacks are – I guess you have to move some smelly shits around.


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