So… coming up next if the ‘Grand Tour of China’ and this will probably be the last of the year for me. Winter is very quiet for TimOnTheTrain – there are more Tour Managers than Tours, so if I’m lucky I’ll get offered one Tour between November 2018 and March 2019 and if I’m unlucky., Nothing! Fingers crossed. There’s always the chance that I might be able to pick up another Tour at short notice, if somebody else has to drop out, but that happens a lot less during the quiet Winter than in the busy Summer.
For now, I need to concentrate on China. This is quite a complicated Tour although things are made easier by the presence of the Local Guides that we have throughout in each main city. The main difficulty is that everything is so… different. Culture, Language & Behaviour are quite unlike what many clients may be used to in the UK, and it takes a little while for them to acclimatise, particularly after a long and tiring flight to Beijing via Hong Kong.
At the moment, I’m knee deep in prep for the Tour, wading through Bag Labels, Rooming Lists, Expenses Forms, Questionnaires and Rail Seat Allocation slips while trying to do some last minute revision about the country. I’ve done the Tour before, so there are a couple of things that I know I need to do in advance, one of which is to watch again Bernardo Bertolucci’s ‘The Last Emperor‘. It was the first Western feature film authorized by the People’s Republic of China to film in the Forbidden City in Beijing, which we shall be visiting. It was nominated for nine Oscars in 1987 and it won nine (including Best Picture). I’m going to try and put some of the Forbidden City sequences on my iPad, so that when new visit the clients can have a visual context to help understand what they are seeing – at least, that’s the plan.
Finally, why the title of this post? Do you know what are the three largest cities by population in the world? London? Nope, that’s 24th with just under 9 million. New York? Sorry Big Apple, but you’re in at 26th. What about Mumbai? Nope, they’re 9th with nearly 13 million, but you’re getting warmer. The largest city by population in the world is actually… Chongqing. They zoom to the top of the list with just over 30 million people; second and third are Shanghai and Beijing. When you visit these cities you quickly discover that most people are out on the street and usually walking in the opposite direction to you. I need my clients to stay together and not get separated or lost.
Maybe I should be considering…
Or is that a step too far?