China is a Mother: Leaving Laos, Enter the Dragon–Lady…

20190305_104154So the nice lady at the Boten-Mohan border between Laos and China in the far Southwest decided to hassle me about my latest entry into the Kingdom—my fourth over the past year—inquiring as to my motives. “Tourism,” I respond, just like it says on the form. But that doesn’t seem to satisfy her. “Sight-seeing,” I add, since I know I’d seen that word on the form, also. I have a ten-year tourist visa, BTW, so 3650 days, plus two or three for leap years, maximum 60 days per entry, so some 600 entries possible (but who’s counting?)…

Then she asks, in English, if I speak Chinese, so I shrug and respond, “a little.” That’s what she wants to hear, I figure. If she wanted to speak Chinese, she’d’ve asked in Chinese. So she fumes and fusses and calls someone over, who quickly green-lights the entry, but just for a final ‘f*ck-you’ she holds my passport up to my face as I pass, as if to verify my identity. The passport and picture are less than a year old, so not much has changed, but that’s not the point, is it?

20181029_163116For reference, at the end of this month I will fly back to Thailand for my sixth entry over the same amount of time WITH NO VISA, and two blatant in-and-out ‘border runs’, with more or less the same amount of time in both countries, 4.5 months, the remaining time divided between Laos (three visas total) and Cambodia. None of the others seemed concerned with my motives, and none of my Chinese entries were ‘border runs’ BTW…

Then I notice that the dragon lady has a problem with her eye, a spike of blood clearly visible, possibly no problem, but who knows? It might be a birth defect. Maybe she’s been called ‘dragon lady’ all her life, so she decided to become one? Hey, I’ve got my flaws and defects, too, you know, none of which I wanted, and all of which branded me in a way I’ve spent most of my life trying to work past…

But hopefully I’ve learned not to transfer that pain on to others. Or maybe she’s just under orders to hassle Canucks and Yanks after what they did to the Crown Princess Huawei. I could probably respect that, TBH, as long as she’s clear about what she’s doing. Or maybe she’s just having a bad hair day. Whatever, I’m sure that I’ll get over the trauma. But whether I’ll be back for more is another question…

20190305_104125But that’s not the only potential trauma of Chinese indie travel, is it? No, there’s always the question of being denied a room—already booked—simply because “we don’t take foreigners.” WTF? “But I’ve already paid.” “Ask for a refund.” It’s true. So why don’t they specify that on the booking site? So do; some don’t. It sucks. Fortunately there’s some good news on that front, since I’ve become aware that hostels may be the ticket to ride that problem out. Hurray for hostels! It ain’t rocket science, after all…

But I’m looking for a cheap decent ten-dollar room, so I can get some work done—read, write, and study—and Xishuangbanna seems like the place for that. But the half-day border run to Laos is out now, I guess, boo hoo. Am I allowed to read, write and study on a tourist visa, Ms. Dragon Lady, or are there a certain quota of sights and sites required for each day of my entry? I guess we’ll only know next time with my next entry—elsewhere…

Is it all worth it? After all, there are some 190+ other countries to choose from. That depends on what you want, of course, but the history that was stopped by the clock for fifty years under communism, has long since been re-purposed by the revisionist Commie regime under Xi Jin Ping. And the dystopian future that they are rapidly constructing in its place may or not excite you…

But I may or may not actually write it all down, as my time these days is largely devoted more to term papers, my MA thesis and an upcoming book. So I don’t spend much time any more at travel writing, given my latter-day commitments to Buddhism and the Studies that define it, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t ever travel now. It just means that I don’t do much else when I do travel…

And that’s what defines us, the fact that we must exist in a physical location, like cows in a barn, rather than bar codes of consciousness. So, I hadn’t really planned this as a farewell post, but if that’s the way it plays out, then so be it. I write strictly on the basis of inspiration now. Good luck out there…