The vastness of Beijing airport makes Heathrow Terminal 5 look like a provincial bus station. Inside I watch the check-in crew line up for their formal morning briefing, standing to attention and holding their schedules in front of them while their supervisor doles out the daily orders – I take a few notes on management style.
Inside, I find the familiar international brands, Dior, Omega, Bulgari; a man at the counter shouts at a check in girl; someone shoves me out of the way to get to through security and my breakfast costs more than all the other food I have eaten in Beijing put together – I have definitely re-entered the business class bubble.
I spend time reflecting on my journey – it has been fairly modest compared to some of the epic voyages undertaken by others I have met. However, I have traced a 5,500 mile line across the face of the Earth – that may sound cheesy but my ‘ground level experience’ has felt very different and has allowed me time to soak up much more of what I have seen along the way. And I know the spell will be broken the moment my plane leaves the ground for Heathrow – a mere 11 hours away.
Part of me would like to keep going – to get on another train and cross China, Tibet, Nepal, India? But the need to see my family feels like a stone in my chest and the other part of me is more than ready to go home.
One of the surprising joys of the process has been writing a blog on an, almost, daily basis; it has forced me to think a little more deeply about the whole experience and I am grateful to Jan for twisting my arm to make me do it. The fact that people have followed my posts and added comments is an added bonus – so, thank you. (At last count I had over 700 hits so I assume you didn’t all land here by accident whilst surfing for internet porn). Having got the bug I will undoubtedly make some more posts although they will probably be a bit more mundane in the immediate future.
I spot Henk and Kevin rolling through security – to date I have met them in Moscow, Listvyanka, the Gobi desert, a railway station in Beijing and on top of the Great Wall. I’m going to say goodbye – I suspect this will be for the last time.