As many of you may know I have just returned from a tri yearly sabbatical, in this case, my return to the UK to see family and friends. I miss them all very much.
I won't mention the journey going or coming back, I will save those moments of joy or not for another occasion.
The highlight was, without doubt getting back to the UK, first time in 3 years and seeing what I had already had an inkling of, a change in the UK for the better.
When I left, all those years ago things were on a slippery slope, most newly arrived immigrants or migratory workers were encamped in the South east, in the surrounding area of the first port of entry in most cases, my neck of the woods.
Now though, pleasantly for them and somewhat to my surprise most had upped sticks and continued on their migratory path, to one or more of the northern ghetto's, no doubt their chosen final destination. I do hope they like it up there. The northerners being so warm, friendly and welcoming.
Back then when I left, the local authorities were more interested in recruiting even more incompetent bureaucratic officialdom into their already swollen ranks and at the same time, desperately trying to become the highest paid civil servants in the land, regardless of qualification or dare I say it, capability, rather than trying to fulfill their job remit of providing reliable, value for money services to the public.
The preoccupation with personal greed and self gratification may have succeeded for a while but it is now looking like it might be short lived and hopefully the useless will be removed along with the excess, with much haste.
The UK to me, this time, appeared greener, cleaner, more at peace with itself, less crowded and brighter on my return, certainly more so than when I left.
Perhaps it is only my perception that things have changed.
What with all these other good and bad influences and re-conditioning in the past 3 years in my current location. Far too numerous to catalogue here...coward that I am.
No, this trip back was much needed and profoundly appreciated. My overall outlook has once again changed...watch this space!
I liked Beijing, this I have no hesitation in saying.
On my return to China I had arranged to meet up with my wife in Beijing, she travelling up from Nanning and me coming in from the UK.
We had just over a week there and it was fabulous, most impressive.
Once again my view has changed dramatically, the last time I was there for any length of time was way back, the latter part of the last century.
Things have changed in Beijing and I don't just mean the property prices. Cleaner, greener, friendlier, more customer friendly and above all noticeably cheaper.
I don't mean cheaper than last century but, most things, other than property, cheaper than Nanning.
We had some great food dining out, good quality, good customer service and at a price as it appeared to me, very good value.
The hotel cost us 250 RMB a night...in Beijing!!!...probably a 3 star, the hotel staff were obliging and cheerful, something that is often sadly lacking in my chosen residential city.
The Subway was a delight, although at certain times, mostly unpredictable times, a very tight squeeze but at 2 RMB for any distance and any number of lines represents terrific value.
We obtained the prepaid subway and bus cards, putting 50 RMB on as credit, these made our journey's easier as no queuing for tickets.
Beijing has left me in a quandary though, I just love courtyard/quadrangle living...I now want to design and build my own Hutong 胡同 - Siheyuan 四合院 - Yi Jin Si He Yuan or just a plain ol' living area surrounding an enclosed courtyard quadrangle, Mediterranean style maybe...we shall see...Yet another space to watch!.
All in all, Beijing a great place to visit, plenty to see in and around the city. We by no means exhausted our stay which means we will need to return to do more...Soon I hope.