Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Back to Beijing

Just to keep things up to date, today we walked a 10 kilometre stretch of the Great Wall of China. This wall is not level. It is almost entirely comprised of steps, most of which go upwards. It was a hard, but thoroughly enjoyed hike and the Wall itself deserves its reputation. Do not underestimate the size either. It crawls along the crest of a long mountain range, sometimes well preserved and sometimes in bricks, but inexorable in its progression. Sometimes the steps disappear and one must scale a slippery path, or inch gingerly down a downward slope, but it is a truly amazing feat of construction. Our leader, Nigel, raved about the day's weather. Apparently it was the clearest sky and warmest sunshine he had ever had in visiting the trip. Certainly I sweated profusely. More to the point the views were incredible.

Anyhow I cannot write any more as this keyboard is driving me crazy. Although I can touch type I still occasionally need to see the keys and this keyboard has no letters visible (and a faulty space bar). I will conclude by describing my group. As I suspected there are some Irish, a couple, Deborah and Ger, Deborah from Belfast and Ger from Dublin. There are a few couples: Jane and Andy from England for instance. And Pat and Jill from Oz. There are a few Aussies: Nigel the tour leader for instance, two girls travelling together, and Daniel, from Melbourne, the only other single male, who shares my room. Daniel has never travelled before, though he is 25. There are 4 people in their 60's, Jill and Pat, Jill's sister and their friend, Deirdre. Then there are two female trainee leaders, Haiko from Germany and Rachel (Chan Chan) from China. Constantly I have a feeling of deja vu; I seem to recognise a lot of these people from somewhere else. It reminds me of a movie, a type of precursor to 'Final Destination' made by Barry Norman's dad, Leslie (The Night My Number Came Up). It concerned a guy who dreamed of a plane crash and then awoke to meet everyone from his dream waiting for him at the airport. Having said that, Pat looks familiar (I have worked out) because he looks like Ken Loach. Perhaps the others just remind me of other minor celebrities. Anyway it is very different from my last group and I am not sure I am entirely comfortable yet as groups within the group are already pre-formed (couples, family groupings) and the dynamic we had before will not happen here. Still everyone is nice enough and though there will be no wild nights (Nigel prefers a cup of tea and a good book), it should be an adventure.

Reading-wise I have finished 'The Quiet American' and have started Dick's 'A Maze of Death'. Greene's book was pretty polished and said what it had to say well. There is a certain distance in his writing that doesn't allow a huge amount of empathy, but that is not to say it is cold. He highlights very legitimate aspects of human inner life, and that is not always pretty. Dick's book is somewhat bizarre (which of his books isn't?), bringing in his religious preoccupations in a very original way. In its own way, it actually deals with much of the human territory Greene did in his book; personal obsession, unwillingness to accept responsibility and the problems of engagement with others, to name but three similar concerns.

Oh, by the way, my blog cannot be read in China.

Anyhow enough! My craziness is increasing.


At 4:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a little dinner then? Phil

At 4:17 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aren't you hitting the nightclubs, lets here about some action!


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