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ASIA & CHINA - THE "KEEP ON SMILING" TOUR

xian Postcard

XI'AN

"FROM ONE DYNASTY TO ANOTHER"

My nasal senses were killing me, my allergies uncontrollable. Despite consuming multiple pharmacy-dispensed pills, similar to chocolate-covered-candy, my nose was spilling mucus like a free-flowing river after the monsoon rains.

It was the one thing the people from Beijing were definitely afraid of; that and having less wealth than their neighbours, all the while living in some nondescript apartment block in the shit, in the shade and in the smog.

It was the second time I had the carriage on the Beijing metro all to myself – the first time was when I first arrived in the city, after a 24 hours stretch in a sleeper bus and 40 hours without a shower. The smell must of being too much for their tender nasal senses. Originally smelling like a Western dog, now I was ill, uncultured and spreading disease.

They packed up their daily belongings and moved…sculling away, shuffling.

Like me – once I had my New Zealand password, Chinese visa and Tibet visitors permit I was off; leaving Beijing behind and carrying my allergies with me all the way to Xi’an.

The place of the Terracotta Warriors – they were something I had heard of as a kid, when the Terracotta Warriors did some sort of world tour similar to the Rolling Stones, but did not understand; similar to sex. Now I was in my mid-thirties trying to figure it all out.

The first thing I noticed, departing the confines of the Xi’an train station, was a wall. The second thing I noticed was a Mr Lees fast food, beef noodle-soup, franchise. It was the familiar and the only place in northern China where I was not followed by the staff once I entered the store.