A revolution at the visa office

It’s 4.00 in the morning and I’m slowly driving on a narrow street behind the Chinese Embassy in Bucharest. I feel a rush of blood in my cheeks. There’s no one here, I’m first! Oh, wait, there’s something across the street – five people in a circle, shriveling between some parked cars. Well, it’s not […]

The curtain’s falling

It’s midnight in Beijing, 7 p.m. in Bucharest, and my hands smell of Tsuika. The day before, in the taxi to Otopeni, Vlad took over the navigation. The driver gave him his smartphone to guide us through side streets and avoid the traffic jam. The driver, a heavy set guy with boyish looks, was constantly […]

The Great Journey

How can you communicate with the Chinese? During this journey we won’t be able to talk to people – almost nobody speaks English or any language that we can understand. Even sign language is different! But people are people and somehow we’re going to get along. Maybe we’ll get a deeper understanding of the things that […]

The Great Metaphor

As I was climbing the stone steps, I marveled, like all men, at the monumental effort undertaken by some people to keep other people away. Whenever I wanted to take a picture, I felt a pinch in my ear: hey, it’s already been done. Every angle. Thousands of times. What’s the point? When doubt creeps in, I […]

I’m from radish

Yesterday, at a small eatery in Beijing, I saw a girl cutting some curious looking vegetable. I opened the Google translate app on my phone and held it to her mouth. She said “金針菇” (phonetically: jin zheng gu), which means needle mushroom. It’s only three syllables and I instantly repeated them, speaking into my phone. […]

School’s out in Zhouzhou. Kids run onto the street where grandparents or parents wait for them. A girl is doing her homework on the back of a tricycle. A boy in a Bart Simpson jumper queues up for candyfloss. We buy roasted chestnuts and 5 fried quail eggs on a stick with strawberry jam. “Let’s […]

„Don’t come! They want to kill you“

Don’t come! They want to kill you So it turns out we made a couple of friends last night in Xushui. That’s 130 kilometers south of Beijing, a city with 600.000 inhabitants. We didn’t want to stay there. But who can say No to a dance? Well, we couldn’t. Even if we’d wanted. Vlad, please […]

In Beijing I stayed with an American guy and a Honduran woman, both of them teachers at one of the best highschools in China. The guy told me that when school starts, the censors verify his school books, and whenever they find a page they disagree with, they paste a white sheet over it. This way, […]

Beijing would be a dream-like city

Beijing is the most systematized city I have ever seen. Its map looks as if a spider has drawn it. Each place has a guardsman perched on a footbridge, with an umbrella above his head and a stick in his hand. They’re stationed on the streets, at the subway, in front of banks, in market […]

Flat tire #3

– You should put more air on your tires – I don’t know. The last two days I ran with less tire pressure and haven’t had a flat tire since – God help! – Jesus und Maria! One (1) minute later: