Across Continents

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Pride and Prejudice

October 28th, 2010

Jane Austin had never appealed. Preferred Enid Blyton. "Famous Five" rather than "Secret Seven". The former did lighthouses, espionage and lashings of ginger beer. The latter never ventured far from the garden shed. However, I’d chanced on "Pride and Prejudice", in English, on Chinese national television. For once, subtitled rather than dubbed. Drawn in by the feisty appeal of the lead characters, and a few unsavoury supporting ones. And, like "Titanic", I’d quickly got a rough idea how it might end.

I’d arrived in Huining much earlier in the day. Rode around for a while in the pleasant mid-afternoon autumn sun. Couple of smart hotels. Security for Emma and the kit, a hot shower, fluffy towels. And a chance to wander amongst the street vendors, browse around. But no. Both man – full. Too late to reach the next town before dark. Besides, I was confident that in a place of this size, I would be able to find somewhere to stay. Eventually.

My starting point had been the bus station. Taken a while to find, but I was pretty certain there’d be a few options close by. Difficult to locate, perhaps just a doorway, and sometimes reluctant to admit foreigners. I wasn’t particularly concerned about the latter. The bike, and my "magic card" describing my venture in Simplified Chinese, usually overcoming any reservations. Been turned away just once.

Took an hour or so to find a suitable room. Not so much the doss house I’d half expected, but rather a dilapidated hotel. Tired. A television probably the only addition since the early eighties. But, whatever it lacked in decor was amply made up by the friendliness of the staff. Insistent they help carry Emma and all the kit up to the room. I’d forgo fluffy towels any day for such a warm welcome.

[Author’s note: Smart hotels – decadence? In a provincial town expect to pay between ten and twelve pounds for an en-suite twin room, internet connection and breakfast – astounding value for money. And, when interspaced with truck stops and doss houses, affordable]

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