Being so far from home and living (even if it’s only for a short time) in such a different country poses personal challenges I’ve not met before, well perhaps that’s not altogether  true; together with new challenges it prompts me to look at old ones in a new light.

Firstly there’s looking after my body. This hasn’t been something that up to now has been a particular problem. I’m guessing there’s a number of reasons for this. However the two that spring to mind are tolerance and resources.

When I say tolerance I’m thinking of my high pain threshold. This has meant that over the years I have banged, cut scraped my way through life. Other than to suck the wound or apply a hankie for a minutes or two I’ve just carried on. To be honest even when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and became more aware that my skin no longer robustly repairs itself, I carried on just as before. Being in China has changed this. Now I check each cut or abrasion and religiously apply Germoline. (Germoline always reminds me of my childhood, in particular my grandmother, the smell is a powerful time machine!) Why so assiduous now? Well I’m in a hot and humid environment; also even if it’s unscientific I can’t shrug off the notion  that there will be some bugs around that my body hasn’t come across before and therefore might find it harder to deal with.

Then there are resources: I’m unsure how efficient I would find the health services here. For all I know they could be far better but that’s the point I don’t know and with such a big language barrier it’s hard to find out. If I suddenly developed an infection in the UK I know how to get it looked at and treated quickly and efficiently. Here I don’t.

So the upshot is I’m being more careful, no bad thing and something I’m determined to bring back home. Amazing that I shall be able to bring something so important home with me and it won’t ear up any of my 23kg luggage allowance.

Secondly there’s home-sickness. A completely new phenomenon for me. I’ve been away from home before and yes I miss my wife and family loads but this is different. This morning I awoke with such a terrible longing for the things that are dear to me that are out of reach. The thought of not seeing my wife and family and friends provoked such a loneliness in me. Determined not to wallow I embarked on two exercises I learnt from my Step-Daughter Bridget. I haven’t kept a gratitude journal on my trip but I used my blogs. Reading through them I realised that there is always a price to pay. In return for being away from my loved ones I have had an extraordinary opportunity to meet people and see things that will stay with me fo ever. The other exercise is mindfulness. I stood at the window of the hotel, watched the drivers coasting round the driving course at a snail’s pace. Thought about their nervousness and excitement at starting to learn to drive and found myself back with my own instructor Jim Sim I won’t bore you with why but this brought a chuckle. I gazed up at the amazing mountains wreathed in clouds that looked so beautiful, the pylons sneaking up and around them just adding to their mystery. I remember the walks I had taken up towards them yesterday and the fascinating discoveries I had made. And that was it, thanks Seligman or more appropriately Bridget.

20150709_002030Well it would be trite to say that I was suddenly full of beans! But I certainly had shrugged off the blue fug around me. Then to cap it all I spend the evening playing Mahjong with a group of wonderfully patient Chinese students. We had a fabulous evening, lots of fun and laughs, mostly at my expense I’m afraid. 20150708_220501And I also got to see how the magical Mahjong machines work as the one we started at went wrong. It’s amazing seeing the tiles rise through the table all stacked and ready to play.

To cheesy just like my spirits rising up through the despair I felt in the morning!!