The Beast of Sonder, so prevalent in my previous journeys, has returned more majestically and unexpectedly than before; permeating, not through people met on the street, next door or behind some mat laying on the ground of some cold pedestrian tunnel selling goods you never really need, but from the people I know.

‘Know’ is a loose term. I know their names, perhaps their major or favourite sport, but being with them continuously for days at a time creates an unspoken closeness.

The façade, socially superficial if you’d dare not or care not to take a closer look, conceal amazing remarkable people whose stories may run deeper than the light can penetrate the ocean or a richly colourful coral reef of skills, stories, desires and achievements above which you could float and ponder for almost an eternity.

But after three weeks your oxygen is low. You’re fading fast, the experiences of this other reality become blurred like a dream you can barely remember. Suddenly, a fierce reality jerks you back to its boat with a rope around your brain and rationale, but not without tearing a piece of yourself that invariably slips away and falls back into the water.

These China experiences I’ve had, while similar in theme or agenda, are remarkably different with the people who are with you. Each having their own influence you can only pray is not dissolved from your soul in the same way this fairy land will dissolve into a dream you think you’ve had before.





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