Saturday, 4 July 2009

Great Wall of China - June 07-15, 2002. Day 1 - Bury St Edmunds to London and England in the World Cup 2002.

Above: One of the 'Whizz-Kidz' children in his electric wheelchair. The reason why we were heading for China and 5 days on the Great wall as detailed in the previous blog entry.

We got up early and finished packing our bags. Beccy panicked a bit because of a work issue. She sent an e-mail and 5 minutes later, work was out of her mind. We boarded the train to London via Ipswich, and getting off at London, Liverpool Street Station, we headed for the nearest bar to watch the FIFA World Cup 2002 Argentina v England football match in a bar called "Crispin's". While on the train, I telephoned my 9 year old son, Baz, who was at The Suffolk Show. He was going to ask his mum if he could see me on Father's day.

Above: Beccy enjoying one of quite a few pint's of beer during the England v Argentina match.

When getting our first pint, we met a Millwall fan, who was already quite tipsy, and had the longest beer grabbing arms I have ever come across. They just seemed to move over the top of everyone's head, grab a beer, then retract like 'Inspector Gadget'! He is pictured below right with his fingers above Beccy's head. We became good friends and bought each other many a beer.

The atmosphere in the pub was electric, and everyone was watching the game. Just before half-time, none other than David Beckham stepped up to take a penalty to put England 1:0 up! Everyone in the pub went absolutely mad.

We met two other guys. One called Norman (below right), and the other one known only as "Fat Bloke" because he didn't tell us his name. However, they just kept buying us drinks!

Above: 'Millwall fan', me, 'Fat bloke', Bex and Norman during the world cup game between England and Argentina, which England won 1:0.

Beccy was in fine voice singing all the football songs she could muster, and everyone joined in. We had a great time. 7 pints of beer later, we donned our backpacks and headed off to Heathrow Airport feeling quite drunk!

Arriving at Heathrow after a rather strange journey in which I think we saw most of London, we were starving and headed to MacDonald's where we devoured our burgers then went off for a sleep to enable the beer to wear off. We met Andrea from Whizz-kidz, and the rest of the group of Round Tabler's from all over the country. We got on the plane, and took off at 9.50pm, about 20 minutes late. I sat next to Graham, a solicitor from Leighton Buzzard Round Table, who we spent quite a bit of time with during the week which followed.

To the left, and just behind us was a medical team providing constant medical care to someone who was obviously seriously ill. It turned out to be a Taiwan-born, Hong Kong news broadcaster Liu Hairuo (劉海若, Tanya Liu, pictured right) who had been seriously injured and fell into a deep coma during the recent Potter's Bar train crash. Her two friends Lin Chia-hsin (former China Television reporter) and Wu Chia-Ching (a TVBS reporter) died. I remember being really upset and moved about this. How a girl could come to England and then end up in a coma, and two of her friends dead because of lack of maintenance on our railway systems. I felt a strong urge to write to the Prime Minister Tony Blair when I returned to England to say that something ought to be done. I felt really helpless. I found out later that Liu was treated by a group of Beijing doctors, and recovered two months later. I would very much like to meet her one day and hear her fascinating story.

I set my watch forward by 7 hours, which was the time difference in Beijing. This made the time now 06.08 hrs. Beijing time. We were now into day 2 and so I laid my head back and went to sleep, still feeling upset about the Taiwanese lady who lay in a coma behind me.
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