After a happy, prolonged period of stabilisation and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.
“Oh ****!” I cried, as S went crashing to the ground in a crumpled heap, a rising cloud of dust blocking my visibility as I skidded my bike to a crunching halt.
I sprinted over to her where she lay winded on the floor clutching her ribs, her bike wheel still spinning on the earth beside her. “Are you ok?” I asked, relieved to see that a section of the wooden fence lining the trail had succeeded in breaking her fall. “Yessssshhhh!” she gasped, half grimacing, half laughing as she tried to sit up. She’d grazed her leg a little in two places, but otherwise seemed to have gotten off lightly. “I killed the fence!” chuckled S as I helped her up, nervously glancing across the countryside half expecting to see some angry axe-wielding farmer striding towards us. “Well…” I said, brushing earth and grass off her jeans, “you certainly left your mark on Yangshuo”.