There are a few things I’ve done in my life that people would call terrifying. I’ve been in a car accident where I went through the wind shield. I’ve gone skydiving. I’ve abseiled down cliff faces. But nothing thus far had been as terrifying as being detained by Chinese Customs as a security threat. Twice.
The first time I was detained, a small 10 year old boy who spoke Chinese, English, and French translated for me and helped keep me distracted by singing Michael Jacksons songs and correcting my abysmal broken French. The second time round however, young Morriss had left for his separate flight and I was on my own. My travel companion had already gone through check in. I was standing there alone, detained by two heavy set officers who made it very clear I was not to move.
Unable to speak the language, the constant back and forth between heavy uniformed security officers, flight crew, and Chinese borderforce was confusing. The occasional snigger from a customs employee or a disgusted look from passengers also trying to check-in added bonus anxiety. After being on a semi-cramped plane seat for 10 hours I was ready to curl up foetal and call the holiday quits. After 45 minutes I was free to be groped by the security guard as I walked through check in. It took a while for me to calm down enough to be able to talk.
After the second flight, we arrived in Beijing and were able to have a decent coffee (albeit sugared beyond belief with caramel sauce and whipped cream) and have a breather. I was able to make contact with my best friend back home and calm down completely as I listened to him complain about losing a Dota match. It’s strange how the simplest, strangest things can bring us peace. I felt right back at home listening to him talk.
Once we’d met up with our tour leader, we were loaded on to a bus with a few other Melbourne folk who’d flew in on a different flight. There was the standard introductions and lilted chatter, but as we arrived at the hotel everyone went their separate ways. I did the only thing I know how to do when I’m stressed. I hit the gym, and I hit it hard.
There’s something amazingly cathartic about lifting heavy weights. Maybe it’s the focus on breath, or the ache of the muscles, but every problem disovles for those 45-60 minutes. The sound of my heart rate rising in my ears, the feel of sweat tricking down my face, the colour blushing over my body as I exert myself to exhaustion before the second wind picks me up and carries me for another 10 minutes of cool down reps… I live for those feelings. They make everything better.
But so do piña coladas. So here I sit, at the bar of my hotel, on my second cocktail thanks to happy hour. Two for the price of one, every night, 5-8pm. For the first time in 24 hours I feel like I may finally be able to relax properly and get in to the swing of this holiday thing…