To begin at the beginning: I am a South African traveller, psychonaut, searcher and a fool. Labels being what they are, I can just say that, having officially reached the dubious hinterland of middle age in semi-decent shape, I am equally grateful for the good times and the bad. Namaste.
There have been many skyrocketing inward and outward journeys, women (the best having been saved for last, thank the gods) and Bukowskiesque menial jobs along the way. I have been primed as a poet, praised as a photographer and, for the most part, poorly paid as a photojournalist.
I never imagined, though, that I would one day be teaching English as a second language on the far side of the world. In the valley of death. In the belly of laughs. Tugging at the fiery jowls of the dragon, begging it to say “cheese”.
China is a mind fuck of note. Nothing can prepare you for it. It has a way of testing your values, resolve, beliefs and limitations, beyond any point you could ever have envisioned. All your preconceived ideas of yourself and the world can one ay be neatly reflected back to you, crystal clear in the side mirror of your scooter as it gets clipped by an oncoming bus. The very next day it can all be thrown back in your face in a rotting cloud of soot, halitosis and the blistering shrapnel of an economic dream gone kaboom.
You’d do well not to get blinded by all this, cause brother, you’d best watch your step.
I still remember my first day standing in front of a class, more than six months ago. Wide-eyed and neck tied, my hippy heart was hammering out a rhythm that nailed my feet to the floor. I had no idea what I was doing. Since then, I’ve learnt to shuffle, to feint, to shudder and dance.
Outside of the classroom I’m still badly adrift. Especially now. With us being at the heart of the coronavirus outbreak, we’re currently facing unemployment, visa issues and crippling travel restrictions. While it may be wise to go with the flow, succumbing to the flood is folly. Indeed, the entire world seems to be caught up in a torrent of panic and uncertainty. All caused by what is proving to be an extremely artful little dodger, leading the world in a dance to, quite possibly, the brink of fundamental change.
Who knows? Right here, right now, my woman and I are just trying to hang on. We have no idea what to do next, and where not to do it. The world is our gritty oyster, stuck between a rock and a hard place. But you’re welcome to come along for the ride.
Though all things point to us remaining stuck in China for the moment, I’ll be posting past and future musings, meanderings and yes, pictures, as we continue to ruffle the veil of the unknown. This is supposed to be a photographic blog, after all. Sort of.
Confucius says: “Time flows away like water in the river.” So let’s get cracking. Below are some of the earlier photographs I’ve taken in Qingdao, a coastal city southeast of Beijing, since our arrival here many months ago.
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All images © Jac Kritzinger 2020.
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