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.
It was a warm, smoggy Beijing morning as we boarded the bus at Dongzhimen, taking our place among the throng of fidgety hopefuls. There were about fifty of us in total and even at that early stage I got the distinct feeling that as Europeans, S and I were heavily outnumbered. Zac from Oregon had packed a sweater in case it got cold at night. Steve from Philadelphia was wearing a new pair of sneakers fresh from a Beijing market. And Sandy from San Diego was flashing a picture of her nephew around, a chubby little thing wearing nothing but a diaper. Everyone agreed the photo was awesome.