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Contents Page: July 1, 2011, vol 7 no 2

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Patricia Prime


Mapping the Distance

scented night
boarding the train
another destination

The Beijing station was bustling, crowded with life, all the more so for being the last stop on a long journey. On arrival there that January morning it was frightening. We didn't know which way to go, where to catch a bus or taxi or how to get to the hotel we were booked into. We were drawn to the exit and up several flights of stairs by crowds milling along the platform.

Outside it was noisy. A taxi-driver hustled us into a dilapidated van. All we could do was give him a piece of paper with the name of the hotel on it. He gave a muffled snort and set off through narrow streets filled with people, produce and wooden shacks.

After we'd settled into the hotel, we ordered tea, with the diffidence of feeling that we might have ordered the moon. Seeing our order taken without disdain, we were encouraged to ask for some cakes as well.

served at breakfast
a bowl of pale white lychees
wet and cold


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