Far Eastern Journal

I did, for a brief moment, consider the benefits of such quick-fix ‘medication’, should I opt to by-pass the professional assistance I required – thanks to my inquisitive nature, I soon ascertained that questionable substitutes to sound medical expertise –were, at best, harrowing!

The medicinal route so ignorantly navigated by some troubled [former] military personnel remains an obtuse alternative.

These enticing options do precious little, other than propelling the gullible towards a short-lived gratification, where inherent stress, sadness and despondency is alleviated for an epigrammatic period of time, all through the emergence of a ‘devil-may-care’ [chemically induced] lethargy – providing nothing more than a short-lived ‘Off-button’ – and thus, far-removed from real world perspectives.

With this evaluation in mind, and remaining positive that the suggested substitutes to my problems lacked the real time ammunition to comprehensively annihilate the Gestapo of glumness that so prevailed within me, I picked up the phone and requested an appointment at the surgery.

The rest as they say, is history, before too long, I embarked on a venture shall remain long in my memory, where the only medication I required was a positive reconnection with life, that comprising of the good, bad and downright ugly – as my forthcoming lines shall only too well convey.

Yet, despite the infrequent difficulties, which presented themselves, I would do it all again tomorrow – tragically, I must wait until October before embarking on yet another trek – it can’t come soon enough!

When I finally lifted-off from Heathrow, en-route to tropical destinations various, my first stopover was at Guangzhou, known historically as Canton or, less commonly as Kwangchow, it is the capital and largest city of Guangdong province in the People’s Republic of China- and located on the Pearl River, about 120 km (75 miles) north-northwest of Hong Kong – it is too, the most God awful city it has ever been my misfortune to visit – what a dismal destination it proved to be.

The international airport that supports this immense municipality has about as much architectural charm as Lubyanka Prison – a truly unwelcoming structure and one utterly devoid of a cheering welcoming mechanism for visitors.

I refer to the term ‘mechanism’ as the most suitable descriptive, largely as it appeared to me that each of the employees who laboured at this dreary, aeronautical receiving station, were little more than cold, unsmiling robots, each with seemingly no desire to demonstrate any specific human qualities, such as a smile, or a nod, or even the blink of an eye.

These uniformed, human appliances each appeared to me as pre-programmed androids, with apparently little or no awareness of anything other than the travail they were paid to execute on a daily basis.

As I waited to be reunited with my luggage, I immediately sensed that one had got off to a very bad start – if I was out-of-sorts before trip commencement – then this crowded corner of the Chinese neighbourhood – and the longer I remained ensconced within it, would surely see one’s melancholic decline continue at a most unhealthy rate – it was at this juncture that I hastily rifled through my hand luggage to retrieve one of Doc Holliday’s ‘Happy Tabs’ – then realised that I had packed the prescribed medication within my main baggage, that of which had not yet appeared – taking deep breaths however, proved to be a pretty good alternative.

If one discounts the appalling fact that I, in the mind of a petite, immaculately attired ingénue who stood directly in front of me at the baggage retrieval area – one whom I suspect, wrongfully ascertained that she was positioned too closely to a possible pervert, one whose sexual ardour had become uncomfortably audible and all too evident for her liking – and soon moved down the line of waiting passengers to be rid of the reprehensible presence behind her – then working on deep breaths during intervals of mild stress or personal difficulty remains a most worthwhile expedient for sure.

With baggage now in my possession and once through customs, I headed for the exit in order to secure the services of a more amiable representative of the Chinese nation, ostensibly, a competent taxi driver, one that would transport me safely to my nearby hotel, in the shortest possible time – and for the most agreeable tariff I could secure, sadly, my expectations were perched a little too high that day.

If the airport staff appeared inexplicably grim, my driver was something else again – I can only describe this unsavoury specimen as one who sits marginally to the left of ‘Genghis Khan’ in the charisma department – he was ‘Odd Job’ with attitude, and that is about as complimentary as I can be about this particular bastardisation of mankind.

In the Army business, one’s bad days were an occupational hazard, during my own tenure as a serving soldier, I spent several bad days under shell fire at forward operating bases, I also have had the misfortune of being briefly semi-buried under rubble courtesy of so-called ‘friendly fire’, thus destroying a rather expensive pair of binoculars too I may add, to say nothing of a number of heavy handed members of an illegal militia during the 1980s, those who once attempted to beat the crap out of me, – largely because they (most accurately) determined that I was not one of their hostile fold.

In truth though, if I had told these ‘gentlemen’ who I really was – and what I was attempting to undertake during that specific period, they would have undoubtedly attempted to beat me twice as hard – and then, quite possibly, minced my lifeless parts for use as pig feed.

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  1. It is a long way to go to get over your retirement blues. I booked a trip to Vegas for a week when I retired and that helped to clear out my head. But seriously that piece about your encounter in the hotel room is priceless.

  2. Gordon Kinghorn

    January 16, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    Thanks PJ, Truly grateful for your comments regarding my recent article. Part 2, (coming at the end of the month) that of which tells my of experiences throughout Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Northern Thailand, shall hopefully be of interest to you too – I do hope so.

    Kind regards


  3. A great adventure indeed. I traveled in my younger days. Not so much these days but I plan do it again when I retire next year. I read several of your other posts here and I find that I have many of the same positive and negative feelings about retirement. Hopefully the next phase will be a good one.

  4. Don from Melbourne

    May 20, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Many accolades come to mind, but surely you have heard them all before. And all well deserved.
    Amazing stuff. Truly. You are one of so very few intelligent people writing about retirement and travel on the net!
    When may we expect Part Two of this wonderful journal?
    I await.
    Best regards,

    In Surabaya, Indonesia, next month in Penang, Taiping and Ipoh, Malaysia. September, Brunei and home to Australia for two months. Then all over again!
    Life at 67 is the best.

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