Merciless Pace.

Nicholas Quirke was feeling like he was really really pushing himself on 17 July 2021. Checking in at 1 am was a really disorienting experience and though he slept the minute his head had touched the pillow waking at 7am did not make him feel like he had rested. He also woke feeling frustrated by the calibre of the WiFi he was experiencing on this trip and he was now so far behind on the blog that he felt an anxiety he not known for a while. He had breakfast which was fairly mediocre and reviewed his plans which, had been to go the the river and to visit the shopping street which had eluded him the previous day. But the low level panic and the complimentary delivery of chilled mung bean soups to his room as compensation for the aircon issues encouraged him to do some work instead. He felt he had seen and experienced enough of Harbin to give himself a small break before he went to Harbin West Station to get a train to Chanchung in the province of Jilin. When he reached the station he was puzzled as he though the station was on line 2 and when he considered the station personnel he was sent to a platform but he had seen Harbin North, Harbin South but the west station eluded him and he had to ask a small collective of n schoolgirls to assist him. The station was indeed on line 2 and wa literally 3 stops away, but when translating the name into English for some reason it was the only railway station that was written in pinyin and of course, when he looked at it properly he could see that Harbinxizhan was in fact West, Xi, oddly one of the first things he had learned in mandarin. The girls however were a delight and finding an excuse to show off their English which, captivated the carriage was fun and he was eternally grateful to them. He had no problems getting the train, arrived in just over an hour and located the hotel which, he was amused to learn was on Tongzhi Jie (同志: tóngzhì) is a Chinese word introduced into the vernacular by Sun Yat-sen as a way of describing his followers. Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, it was used to mean “comrade” in the Communist sense: it was used to address almost everyone, male and female, young and old. In recent years this meaning of the term has fallen out of common usage, except within Chinese Communist Party and among people of older generations. Since the 1990s, the term is used to refer to sexual minorities and was first adopted and popularised by the inaugural Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in 1989, whose aim was to present same-sex relationships as positive and suggesting solidarity between LGBT people, while also providing an indigenous term to describe same-sex love. He attempted to check in but the room was not ready and not wishing to waste a moment he left his luggage at the desk to check in later and departed immediately for Jingyuentan Forest park. As the last admittance was at 5.30 he had to move swiftly. He used the 60 card and got in free though he thought they he should actually be 65 from what they were saying but he played ignorant and they let him in. He had batted away the attention of a bug to his ear in Wudalianchi and over the day his outer ear had become swollen and red. Knowing the adverse reaction to bug bites he was a little concerned by what might transpire but on his journey through the park the pustule burst and the poison oozed out. It was great walk through the forest finding a couple of quirky and creepy sculptures on his way, though the discovery of the lake opening up in the sunset was a particularly beautiful sight. By the time he had walked around the lake, spotted some naked swimmers and posed for some photos with the locals night had fallen and he realised that apart from breakfast, another day had drifted by without him eating. The park at night was illuminated and there was a light and music show around a faux crescent moon that the park’s habitué clustered round. The road out of the park was suffered in a blood red light which made gave the departure and epic quality. He was pleased to encounter the usual open air community dancing and wondered what such a display would look like in the UK. It was late and as he generally didn’t like to eat after 18.00 he missed out on supper and instead had two Iced teas waiting for him when he reached the hotel. He was desperate for some satisfactory sleep and made sure he was showered and ready for slumber by 22.30.

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