Do The Panic
This space here is where I’ll be shedding some arty-light on everyday life and hopefully encouraging people to look at things with a keener and more enthusiastic eye. I want artistic thought to seem accessible, and this string of writing will hopefully be entertaining & maybe a little strange, and not make you want to uh sigh at yet another bloody travel blog.
First of all, it's been pretty fucking amazing.
It just so happens that at the moment I’ve been travelling along the ancient silk road and every other single teensy tiny bit of mainland China, as well as a OIALT visit to the nomads in Mongolia.
I left off for my 3-month trip waving goodbye at Heathrow to a teary mum and a travel-fiend Dad (who had made mum stand in the wrong check-in queue ‘just in case the one I was in wasn’t the right one’ for an hour at 4.30am), laden with two rape alarms, two intruder door-stop alarms and a sense of over-safety only a mum would be proud of.
Being the tight-arse that this trip required, I didn’t splash out on flights.
So to get to Kashgar – part of China that is next to Kyrgyzstan/Tajikistan – I had 2 stopovers which were just the worst. I got thrown in the deep end with flying China Southern as I was immersed in this new surrounding culture of the comfortably bustling-shoving-amongst-themselves Chinese. Bad turbulence didn’t stop everyone from standing up and chatting, leaning and gossiping over and through people, and the flight had the ambiance of the soon-to-be-experienced animal market.
To distract myself, I watched Her on the teensy screen and ended up bursting into tears. Excitement, worry and wtf-am-I-doing thoughts were floating round my head in that moment that I’m sure all solo travellers get. Leaving a bf, a bunch of bffs and fam for 90 odd days and delving into some of the strangest, heart-breaking parts of the world needed a bit of courage. I asked for a drink and the flight attendant chucked a disappointing 2.3% Chinese branded liquid to me that claimed to be beer.
Little did I know my western-world standards needed to be let go in order to embrace the truly remarkable experience China was going to be.
Whilst waiting for my luggage to come through after the flight, I popped to the loo and gagged at the smell emanating from the airport's non-flushing-squat-drop holes. There were no doors on the cubicles, so there was a new-found freedom to give a cheeky wave to the woman opposite you and become happy squatting pals. I was too tired to care at this point, and found a taxi that understood my Google print-out of where my hostel bed was.
The local people of Kashgar speak Uyghur which is predominantly an oral language, so it was by some miracle that I eventually slumped onto an abruptly hard bed in a very sparkly room, where I slept for the next 10 hours.