“I’m confused,” said Lucy. “You’re confused! What about me? I’m the one who is supposed to be finding our way around the world in just eighty word changes to our what3words geolocation code,” I replied. “It might help if you turned the your map the right way up,” was the short-tempered response from my dog.
We had arrived in the Anhui Province of China from our previous location in the Champagne Region of France. For most people (and dogs) that would require long distance international air travel, trains, buses, taxis, passports, visas, injections, health certificates, foreign currency, and a fortunes’-worth of travel and pet insurance. For us it had required nothing other than to change ///washing.basket.shirt into ///washing.whisker.shirt and we were gently transported into the middle of a field of rice thirty miles south east of the city of Fuyang.
To give some kind go geographic context to our paddy field, we were about five hundred miles south of Beijing, 720 miles north of Hong Kong, 400 miles west of Shanghai, and 5,400 miles east of Huddersfield (where we call home). As we walked through the fields towards the road, Lucy said that there was a lot of rice, and she kept stopping to sample it and check to see if there were any chicken near by, as chicken and rice was one of her favourite dishes. I reminded her that there were a large number of places in the world where dogs were seen as a culinary delicacy, and gave her a tug on the lead.
It’s not easy finding information about remote areas of rural China, so I did a quick web search using the name of the nearest village, Songpozhaicun. All I could find was a list of the three most popular questions being posed by the residents of that village, which were, according to the Google translation, as follows: 1. “Can braised pork be eaten in the refrigerator for five days?”; 2. “Is black bean good for green heart or yellow heart?”; and 3. “What are the levels of protection for dolphins?” Not knowing the answer to any of these three questions we decided to give the local village a miss and cadge a virtual lift to the nearest city, which was Fuyang.
There can be few places in the world where the contrasts between the almost medieval rural and the technologically advanced urban are so great. Fuyang is a modern city of busy roads and skyscrapers and seven and a half million citizens. There was even an endless choice of KFC’s and McDonalds where we could get chicken burgers and rice. After our meal – as was now traditional – Lucy and I decided to seek out a bar where we could spend the evening and choose our next word. I checked the directory for bars in Fuyang and found an extensive list which included the Mountbatton Bar, the Football Home Pub, the 1984 Siren Club, and the SOS Yaoba Karaoke Bar. Eventually we made our decision based on nothing other than the name of the establishment, and took a taxi to the Big Mouth Duzi Filling Station on Linquing Road. We finished up sitting on a wall outside the restaurant (“no dogs allowed”) sharing a tin of Tizer. Lucy gave an involuntary shiver. “Winter’s drawing in,” I said. “Fair enough!” replied Lucy. So off we go to ///wahing.whisker.winter; see you there.