China [Part Three]

Here’s a thing I approve of, incense in toilets:

All the events have been really proper here, with my ugly mug plastered on large boards outside.

On Saturday Francesca and I went exploring, breaking away from the dual carriageway and hotel land to see a slice of the real Guangzhou, it was really exciting, strange and beautiful:

In the afternoon we were taken to The Canton Tower, at 600 odd metres it’s the tallest building in the world. It’s not finished yet so we could only go up 433m, only. It was pretty cool:

Saturday night was The Poetry Gala at The Pearl River International Poetry Festival. It was held at a resort/compound full of hotels and expensive houses. I think this was because the festival is sponsored by a real estate company. It was an outdoor affair, amazing sound system, huge stage and pink and green light show. As we approached they were playing hard house, it felt like we were walking into a rave, I kept looking around for pills.

The poetry was a stark contrast to the music, but there was a stellar line up, top names from around China. There were about 20 photographers down the front (the Chinese are big on photography) and little children running about. I was surprised at the general attitude of the audience. One poet in the front row loudly answered his mobile phone during another’s performance, people chatted as the poets read their poems on stage. Strangely they seemed a lot more attentive when we were on, even though here was no translation for my two pieces. Or perhaps the sound was so good that I just didn’t notice the chatting and phone answering, in which case I guess it didn’t matter.

It was a strange experience performing with the knowledge that most of what you say will not be understood, but something about being able to shout my ballads into the night thousands of miles away from the world they were written about was exhilarating.

We got back at 11pm shattered.

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