I spoke of fear.
I spoke of Tibet.
I've let one rule the other. I told everyone I was going to Tibet, made sure I got the leave and put money aside even though it made every day living a little lean. Did not book the trip. Thought about booking it, but always found a reason not to. Because I was afraid. Some inarticulate, irrational and soft dread that I wouldn't work my way around, even though I wanted to.
On the bus from the airport last weekend, I sat behind an older Chinese man. He had that sallow face, sagged skin and hanging depressions beneath his eyes which makes me think of my chain-smoking uncle.
The last person to board the bus was an older Caucasian woman. 'Older' in the sense that she wasn't so sure of her feet anymore, and sat down as soon as the bus started moving. Next to the Chinese man.
They started chatting right away. No hesitant customary greeting, they instantly launched into where they'd come from, what they'd seen, genuinely interested in what the other had to say. He'd spent three weeks in Hong Kong. She'd spent three weeks in Vietnam. They got out picture books and looked at Halong Bay. They didn't speak of shopping, or meals, or the differences of propriety they found uncivilized. They spoke of the wonderful things they'd seen, and how the world could still amaze them.
I want to be like them when I grow up.
And I've booked my trip.
And was informed that China has just closed Tibet (again) for the period over Tibetan New Years and the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising and the Dalai Lama's flight into exile. They've preempted all and any 'insurgent' activity by saturating the area with army and police.
At this point in time, Tibet should reopen after March. However, given I'm intending to be there during Saga Dawa, I call even odds of the borders being closed again. The ruling party does not like Tibet to remember itself.
Still, we shall proceed under the assumption that this will go ahead. When it comes time to apply for my visa, all posts relating to Tibet will be taken offline.
Should this not come to pass...I'm thinking Mongolia.
Clearly I've a thirst for Chinese oppression.