Destinations Magazine

2022: Reverse Culture Shock & Me... Part 4!

By Josephharrison1990 @JTAH_1990

So, I'm over expressing my woes about deliveries, infrastructure and life in general with 'Reverse Culture Shock' in mind. Beijing paid my heat bills? The Chinese capital did pay my winter heating costs. Living in a house outside of a gated community continues to feel like an epic change, there's something about being in a secured environment. I take the bins out? 不可能的! 

2022: Reverse Culture Shock & Me... Part 4!

Wuhan's 江汉路步行街 had me dumbfounded with all of those shop fronts with their lights and chattering shoppers, everyday felt and looked like a weekend with energy embodied. I look at my U.K surroundings and can firmly say that we have lost so many high streets, such 'pedestrian street' settings are reserved for bigger cities such as London and Birmingham to name a few. During both stints spent in China, the mayhem of such shopping highways would sometimes become a lot for me to process but after being away from them for such a time period, I want them back! Truly, bring those neon lit department stores back to me with the quickness, I won't care how maddening the crowds are! I experienced a different vibe away from those formative Wuhan settings, from the noise of Jianghan Road and my Guanggu City Plaza, Beijing had me snatching pieces of action in my then Suburban Shunyi District. Life took me back to the U.K for a reason, that change of pace has me feeling centered. Time is ticking, things move on forwards. 

Absolutely, during March 2022 that familiar 'electric love' was served up to me, it was a given that London's 'Piccadilly Circus' served a million lights with those advertisements in the round. I loved that display of energy, as people went about their business along with the returning tourists. It was a familiar sight but no Chinese characters were displayed upon those larger than life screens, that wasn't a shock to me! Beijing switched things up, I did find a certain 'Pedestrian Street' with '王府井步行街'. Turning things into an unexpected 'Sunday Service', I was able to be reunited with a shopping street that unknowingly reminded me of Wuhan's Jianghan Road. Here in the U.K, Birmingham's New Street has given me snapshots of a busy shopping street moment with the Bullring as the futuristic landmark. Only in London during March 2022 did I see any 'neon looking lights', we really shouldn't dim our own shine. With a regained perspective, I know that I am going to look at those 'Pedestrian Streets' once again. U.K, 你知道? 

2022: Reverse Culture Shock & Me... Part 4!

Keeping in mind that my current stay in the U.K won't be forever, not being able to source those East Asian snacks on a daily basis hasn't been all that bad. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, so when I made it over to Birmingham's own Chinatown after Lockdown 3, you know it was a big deal! Sure, there are plenty of Asian supermarkets in the U.K with online shopping options but have you seen those prices? Madness! Yes, Birmingham's 'Day In Supermarket' reunited me with those 'Hawthorn Sweets' and a supersized bag of 'Puerh tea'. I also bought a jar of 'YES!' Soybean Paste', I had used that cooking extra during my China living days. I have to say that not having these foods has made me appreciate them more, reminding me of those 'Marks & Spencer' Taobao orders I used to make from Hong Kong! Knowing how long I waited for that imported 'Cadbury Cocoa' and 'Bisto Gravy Granules' to be delivered from the U.K! Knowing that it's alright to miss certain foods and spend more for a home comfort. Ah!

London's Chinatown was in trouble, those Bubble Tea shop lines were way too long and I didn't have extended time to wait! Not to sound impatient but it was one of those theater days, off the train and back on it again, those Saturday crowds presented a chaotic scene! Nevertheless, 'New Loon Moon Supermarket' presented me with a calmer situation without any lengthy queues. Managing to find a bumper pack of Minion packaged 'Hawthorn' winders, I am still working on them many months after buying them in March 2022! I also picked up some Korean 'Orion Pies' they had been a replacement during my China days instead of 'Wagon Wheels'. To drink I found a six pack of 'VitaSoy 豆浆' because I missed that soy milk taste! Getting back those tastes in my life had me feeling reminiscent of those 'taken for granted' moments. I'm going to keep the balance, embracing local drinks and snacks whilst ordering those far flung U.K home comforts without stress. Having that distance the other way round hasn't done me any harm! See you, C! 

2022: Reverse Culture Shock & Me... Part 4!

Those 'After Hours' shenanigans in the Capital of China were no joke, honestly I wasn't prepared for those experiences! Keeping things cute, you already know that I didn't want to cause any trouble! 'Destination' had been a club known as one of the biggest and popular Gay Clubs in China, with a known presence most people who knew Beijing had half a clue what and where that Beijing Super Club was located. My Shunyi location wasn't exactly near that Workers Party Stadium area in Beijing's Chaoyang District, that twenty-five minute taxi ride never deterred me from my regular Saturday night out on the tiles. 滴滴 Taxis allowed me to marry the night, only costing me £7.00 one way, I can't comprehend that the same journey in the U.K would cost well over £25.00! With contacts made I found 'KAI吧', hidden in plain sight, that not so undercover Gay Club became another one of my Beijing haunts! WeChat Pay hated me, it was just so easy to keep scanning that QR Code after ordering another drink! I loved those 北京 nights! 喝酒! 喝酒! 

Many of my nights out in China required a certain level of detective work, to be honest I preferred those '彩虹' establishments being trickier to find. Being brutally honest, I loved the pursuits such places like Chengdu and Jinan had me on to find such venues I had seen on the internet or had found out via messaging Apps. In the U.K for instance, I have found the accessibility of Gay Villages take away the exclusive client base because more people from other communities join the party. I prefer keeping things within our clique because we all know we are all ordering from the same drinks list. My underground night out in Dalian sent me on a whole adventure, catching some local Drag and enjoying the scene allowed me to have the best time. I look at the Gay scene in the U.K and I find it to be reductive, there's no need for any twists and turns to be navigated because cities like Manchester and Birmingham are so open. Gurl, I'll embrace the 'Gayborhood' when I hit up 西門, 台北 but otherwise I love it underground! I do, C! 

2022: Reverse Culture Shock & Me... Part 4!

Straight up, going from living in my own rented flat in a community housing block in China to the family home on a council estate in Wolverhampton has been quite the change. Time has sure passed me by, I actually loved living that independent lifestyle with my own place to enjoy. During early 2020, I had not long arrived back from my 'business as usual' Christmas holiday and it was time for me to pack up my apartment before I would need to check-in to my temporary hotel room. I had my boxes sent to a friends apartment, before the COVID-19 Pandemic kicked off,  you already knew that I was loving my leisurely hotel days. I had no qualms about living out of a suitcase for a few days but things weren't going to be plain sailing. One hotel stay turned into three by the end of February 2020. Home life has been within the family home, I had only needed to visit that Bilston ex-Council House during the odd Christmas holiday. Two and a half years on, the category remains 'Family Home' Realness for sure! Help!

Apartment life in China before the Pandemic struck saw me living in my first Beijing apartment with an added bonus! Due to being located in a northern part of China, from November to February the government would pay my heating bills with the radiators blasting out heat through those below freezing nights! In the here and now, those who will freeze during the winter months in the U.K would definitely benefit from having their heat bill paid by the gov! I think living back in the family home for this extended period in the U.K has given me a sense of perspective because to have privacy was never a premium when I lived in China. Sure, I want to ensure that my new apartment in China will be like my own 'castle' with guaranteed privacy and seclusion. Life in Wuhan served certain accommodation drama but also Beijing did, turning those wrongs right, I will be able to choose a winning option third time round! Those 浙江 heat bills won't be covered like 北京, I'm not worried about that. One step closer! You already know!  

I Took A Road Less Traveled! 

Desperately Seeking Adventure

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