AFTER X’IAN, BEIJING: we travelled there at 300 km/h, our speed digitally displayed at the end of the carriage. There was boiling water on tap, there were wide seats, there was more than adequate leg room and the train ran on time. In other words, it was everything that train travel in the UK is not.
THE LAMA TEMPLE
Welcome to the Disneyfication of religion. Don’t worry if you’re not Buddhist, it really doesn’t matter. Please collect your complimentary bundle of incense sticks and proceed directly to the brazier, where you may light them. Screams of excitement are encouraged. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous (and you probably are) please do feel free to light the entire bundle at once (don’t worry about the sign telling you not to do that). Next, proceed to wander around the temple clutching your incense stick like you don’t quite know what to do with it. When you’re bored with it, just drop it on the ground. Thank you.
Welcome to the hutongs, a series of old narrow lanes that you’ll probably get lost in. People have died trying to get out. Do come in, though.
Residents are mostly friendly.
Don’t touch my beer.
The discarded bikes of those who didn’t find their way out of the hutongs.
Don’t worry that you’re lost, having a beer will help you find your way out.
Welcome to the Wall. Yes, it looks like it was rebuilt recently, and there’s a reason for that. Try not to be too underwhelmed. Distract yourself by buying overpriced gloves to stop your hands falling off in the cold.
OK, so it is quite impressive in places.
But if you’re still bored, don’t worry – because there’s a toboggan run all the way down to the bottom of the hill which is a lot more fun than the wall itself.
Welcome to Shanghai! You can get married here.
It’s very popular.
We’ve got the whole post thing covered as well.
And laundry too. I’m pretty sure it’s fine to be a Christian in China as well.
We don’t talk about the hairy building. Look away.
This is the view that you’re paying £6 a beer for. Better enjoy it.
NEXT TIME: The food of Penang.
This post was written and uploaded in Kuala, Lumpur, Malaysia.