Published: June 28th 2010June 28th 2010
The trouble with travelling in China is that the Chinese have no idea what it is all about. I’m on their side. I have no idea either.
I hate the word ‘travelling’. I hate it when people ask me how long I have been ‘travelling’. I hate it when people call me a traveler. I am not a traveler, I am just a bloke who doesn’t seem to stay in one place for very long; I’m homeless, not a bloody traveler. ‘Travelling’ as near as I can ascertain, is a temporary hobby for the over-moneyed fruits of Western (and now to some extent Korean and Japanese) capitalism often with the declared objectives of ‘seeing’ or ‘doing’, although the real purpose is the same as that of all leisure activities: the alleviation of boredom, the filling in of time.
The Chinese are completely unable to understand that anyone is doing something so strenuous just because they have a whole load of time and money they need to get rid of. If you have time and money to spare in China you have sex or gamble. The sex and gambling are not sinful, but the extra time and money are. All time should be spent in the accumulation of stress and in working to better the lot of your family, especially your parents. All spare money should be given to your family, especially your parents. And you don’t need to trekking over mountain or floating down the river to have sex or gamble.
Or at least that used to be the case. The Chinese have recently been instructed to engage in Tourism and in their humble little ways, they are doing their best, God bless them. The peculiar phenomenon that is Chinese Tourism will be mocked elsewhere, have no fear.
Travel in China is traditionally motivated by only two factors: tragedy and greed.
Some commonplace misfortune like plague, earthquake, tsunami, volcano or gang-rape has driven you from your home which you miss desperately and henceforth your whole life is spent in seeking a prosthetic home, or in miserable anticipation of the time you can return. And alternative version involves terrible poverty and the drive to feed your many lazy relatives who have remained behind in the mud, sand or war-zone. The other kind of tragedy which may drive you away from home is a peculiar mental aberration, the misguided belief that over the hills and far away you will ‘find something’, the search for meaning. This is the most terrible of tragedies. And it becomes more common every day. Increasing numbers of young Chinese people are daily awakening to the belief that there is more to like than hoeing turnips and massaging your Grandmother’s tired feet. Much of this madness can be blamed on the influence of Hong Kong soap opera.