As well as, no access to my email, Instagram, YouTube, Google services or even the WordPress app, which I had just gotten accustomed to using via my smartphone!

“In China, due to government policy popular websites like Facebook, Twitter and Gmail are blocked by the national firewall… ” said one of the most charismatic hotel reception staff I have ever met in my life (no exaggeration) however not even her enigmatic charisma could stop the sinking feeling I felt in the pit of my stomach…

Clearly I’m not as clued up on Chinese politics as I should be, because who knew the Chinese government didn’t care to allow its citizens access to specific websites or social media apps, making it impossible to share any up to the minute imagery of the last leg of my Asian adventure. Once my neurons started to absorb and filter this new reality I did what any reasonably intelligent grown man would do, I had an internal tantrum (but with a little more age appropriate sophistication) and irrationally thought to myself “Why are the Chinese government doing this to me?”

But Xi Jinping doesn’t have any beef with me and the Chinese government definitely have bigger and better things to do, as this wasn’t a personal attack on my freedom or civil liberty, this was a government policy that all citizens abide by and I was a guest in the house of Beijing, so it made sense to live like the people and attempt to understand the cultural norms of this influential and historically epic host country.

If I was really going to use this experience to help me understand the commonality of the human experience, I couldn’t step within its borders puffing out my chest with Western influenced arrogance, anymore than I could invite myself into your home and demand you roll out a red carpet upon my arrival…

It was in my best interests to work with my limitations and accept that social media would not be a part of this experience, and fortunately I was raised in an era where people would pass the time and read these rectangular, objects called “books” so it would make sense for me to get back to reading one of those with my newly acquired spare time.

With technology taking a back seat, I need not concern myself with notifications and use the time available to engage with the sights, sounds, smells and surroundings rather than checking in on how many people reacted and/or commented on my photos and this imposed realisation was most liberating because I was able to feel the increased palpitations of Beijing’s heart…

The city of Beijing is a fascinating place which (arguably) is more indebted to the grace of it’s rich historical past because all you could really do is just stand and behold the epic scale, foresight and visionary scope of the Great Wall, the Forbidden city, Tiananmen Square or the Summer Palace… 

But this wasn’t just about the large, broad, sweeping tourist attractions, it was also about the a bustling population with a work ethic that seems to know no bounds, traffic jams that dominated the roadways, a range of foods my taste buds couldn’t quite conquer and the fact that Saturday night was not something dominated by young alcohol fuelled party goers but rather a communal experience enjoyed by every age range.

The next few posts will be dedicated to this most fascinating Asian adventure, please feel free to follow me on social media via Facebook or Instagram…but the one thing I did take away from such an experience is that Dorothy was right, no matter how far you travel to get to the Emerald City, there really is…

No place like home…

Until next time

P.S. Hope you enjoy the pictures below.