On Saturday night I was taken for a rare trip to Chenghai. There are two points in this story. The first is how little I travel around the Chaoshan area. Actually it’s probably the size of Greater Manchester plus a bit, and when in England I regularly travel across the widest parts of Manchester, and often cover most of the North of England without thinking about it. But when I’m in Shantou, the tv tower is distant (the other side of town), Chenghai is a trip (25 min drive), and Chaozhou (50 min drive) is practically an expedition. Why is this? Guangdong is bigger than all of Great Britain put together, but I don’t know a single place to eat in Chenghai or Jieyang, and only a couple in Chaozhou. It’s like space is bigger here.
Actually I quite like it. Sometimes I realise just how small my geographical world has become and feel claustrophobic, but only for a couple of minutes. A lot of my friends have never left Guangdong, and for many more the limit is Fujian, which is culturally almost the same as the Chaoshan area and just a little further on than Chenghai. I guess if you don’t know how big things are, then your space really is bigger. And that feeling translates to me too, even though I know very well how big things are.