I’ve been away for over two weeks and the novelty is starting to wear off. Although I consider myself a sociable person, spending every waking hour in company, however good, starts to grate and I find myself taking bathroom breaks simply to get some time to myself.
Saturday afternoon afforded me an hour and a half of daylight to explore Song Shan Lake, a sprawling expanse of water adjacent to my hotel in Dongguan. I am told the area was once a kind of neglected no-man’s land, but it’s now a high-tech, high-spec technological zone bursting with greenery and swanky offices. I might describe it as pleasant, even beautiful on a clear day. The only downside is the traffic, which has increased exponentially since my first visit about 5 years ago, making journeys to neighbouring Shenzhen and Guangzhou twice as long. Haze-free days remain a rarity.
The weather was warm and what we’d describe as ‘muggy’ in England, but it was pleasant enough for a stroll. I am not always kind about China, but in this instance I felt relaxed and happy to be mingling with the chattering families and cutesy couples enjoying the lake views and cool shade. Every so often my nose was met with the unmistakably peachy scent of guìhuā (桂花), Osmanthus fragrans, which I first encountered further north in Hangzhou.
As the sun started to set a hundred mobile phones came out ready to take obligatory selfies in Lover’s Bay or the Misty Rain Pavilion. Thousands of dragonflies flitted lazily back and forth over the pontoons and walkways. It was all rather blissful and not at all like the China I have grown accustomed to. The scene looked like a willow pattern plate that had sprung to life, and I was part of it.
I returned to my hotel as darkness fell, cooled by a gentle breeze off the lake and felt ready to face my colleagues again. “Only a week to go” I told myself, and here I am, a week later, completing this post as the sun sets on my trip and I ready myself to leave for the airport. Tempus fugit. TFG.