Where The Hell Am I?

In the land of blogging, sometimes time warps occur....which explains why I'm sitting on a sunny verandah in Australia listening to the birds singing when it would appear, from this photo, that I'm still in Southern China, having just finished my last post about Guilin. I'm always torn as to whether to pretend I'm still in China, just so I can continue posting all the great posts I had planned or half-written or had great photos for but no words, or to just enter hyperspace, so to speak, and hop seamlessly from one side of China - or the world - to the other in a small flash, making all my readers believe I'm in a place I'm actually not.

My family always thinks this is hilarious, as do my Shanghai friends who have a better idea of my physical whereabouts, as opposed to my online whereabouts. "How's Guizhou??" they'll ask pointedly when I'm sitting at Waga's on Donghu Lu having coffee with them. "Is the weather fine in Yunnan today?"

So I'm confessing. In reality, I got back from Guilin over a week ago. Oh alright, alright, it will be two weeks tomorrow. And in the interim, after three crazy days in Shanghai trying to buy everything on the list of pirated DVDs and TV series my sister sent me, I packed my bags and spent four days in Hong Kong en route to Australia and have now been back at work (like, my real job, as a doctor) for a week. And yes, after a lovely life of travelling, eating Chinese food, taking a few pictures and writing about it all, working in a busy public hospital Emergency Department was a shock to the system. Which I promise I'll write about in due course, probably about a week after the shock has worn off.

Hong Kong, on the other hand, that delightful Anglicized Cantonese Wonderland, was so strangely westernized to me this time, visiting as I was from the other side of the China/Rest of the World divide, that it wasn't a shock to the system at all.  In the past, it's always seemed so very Chinese, but that was before I got to live in China itself where, hardly surprisingly, it's very Chinese. English food writer and author Fuschia Dunlop, who spends protracted periods living in China, describes Hong Kong as "a decompression chamber, a halfway house between home and China" and I can understand why. As she describes:

 "Hong Kong helped me to cross the border gently. It was China in some ways, but in others it wasn't.  I could meet English friends for a cocktail in the Captain's Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, or I could watch live fish being dismembered in the Wanchai wetmarket; I could windowshop in the gltzy designer boutiques of Central, or lose myself in the feverish backstreets of Kowlooon."

(from Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper by Fuschia Dunlop, published 2008 by Ebury Press)

I packed a lot of decompression into my four days in Hong Kong, and I have a few great posts coming up for you about the places I visited and the foods I ate (who goes to Hong Kong to shop? OK, perhaps I did a bit of that too). So hang on, lovely peoples, my blog will be catching up with my physical self very soon.