I felt fifteen again before I jumped on the train. I gave a hug, just as all the travellers embrace each other when we take leave. The Americans have introduced this habit – I suspect – and now we are doing it all, but of course he was not with me for a hug. Just before I went through the gates he then walked towards me and called me and – oh – what did I feel stupid. Of course I could have done that, but I did not dare.
I jumped on the train to Shanghai with the fast train from Beijing. These trains are in everything else than the Transsiberia trains. It’s luxurious, it smells good, you can charge your phone, they come all the time with all kinds of nice things you can buy – although the Chinese order and pay for it via Wechat – and you can also walk to the coupe where they sell it. In addition, you’ll be in Shanghai in four hours, really ideal. I wish trains were like that in the Netherlands, then more people would go by train, I am sure.
The boy who swung out of me and kissed me was the French doctor I saw in Mongolia. We wanted to meet in Beijing, but since I’ve been putting my whole life in American hands (Gmail, Whatsapp, Google and Instagram) and he wasn’t able to communicate at all. That’s also the reason for the radio silence on my blog – internet, but no possibility to upload photos, open my email or upload a blog.
Nevertheless, I had made it clear to the French Doctor which hostel I was in and that I would take the four-hour train. Lunch?’ I asked him. That was a good thing, because then I could go to China’s National Museum with Germans that morning. It seemed to be fun to me; propaganda. Although I do think that all museums are propaganda in the end, objectivity does not exist, everyone writes it down as we like to hear it. In Tokyo, for example, I once read how the Dutch kill more than 6,000 people on Java, with photos and everything there is to it. We do not learn that from history lessons.
What I also didn’t know – and learned in a Shanghai museum – is that a Dutchman was involved in the founding of the Communist Party: Henk Sneevliet. Rotterdammer from Crooswijk. Henk was born into a poor family and raised Den Bosch by his uncles and aunts, because his parents died early. He joined the Communist Party early on and from there he grew into the party with the cherry on the cake that he was at the founding of the Communist Party in China. Wikipedia even claims to have put Mao forward. If Henk had not done so, history could have been different.
Back to the museum in Beijing where I went with the Germans. We entered the museum and decided that we wanted an audio guide, because everything is in Chinese. It is clear that the museum is not meant for foreigners, but only for the Chinese tourist – it is free. We asked for the audio tour in English. No, sorry, there are no more audio sounds in English,’ said the boy behind the counter. We were there early, so I couldn’t imagine that there could be many tourists for us who could audio the English tour. Moreover, I did not see any non-Chinese tourists at all. We started to think about an established plan: an indoctrination for Chinese people of which she did not want to inform us.
We decided to do without an audio guide, but that will give you very little information and a lot of questions. So I decided to try again: now there was an audio tour, but for two exhibitions of the dozens. We decided to see what we could learn from it and it was interesting. We learned about the establishment of the Communist Party (Sneevliet was not mentioned here), the opium war, the Japanese war and the French, Germans and English who also starved the Chinese for a long time – that is the story. In the end, the message was: we suffered, they – the foreigners – are to blame, but since the Communist Party came into being, things have gone well and we are flourishing again.
One exhibition was enough, we were hours further on and starved so we decided what to eat. We found a nice tent somewhere between the shops and ordered noodles and rice. With a full stomach I went back to the hostel and there he sat: the Frenchman. O shit – I thought, we were going to have lunch and I had completely forgotten it. I went to have lunch with him and told him that my train was going at 4 PM. He wanted to come along and so we came to the station where I couldn’t stand and he took the lead in kissing me – whether or not it took a long time, but he had more courage than me, so yes, I don’t have the right to find anything.