She mentions it only once or twice, for the first time days earlier in Beijing, but in the interim the idea turns over in my brain. Kaili flies early this morning to meet her parents in Taipei tomorrow and will head home to Singapore from there. We stayed last night in the Chengdu airport complex to facilitate this. But I could fly with her. I’ve had an incredible journey here from Beijing and much of that can be attributed to Kaili. For one thing, she has guided us around China’s fascinating complexities and culinary highlights with great enthusiasm and it has all been hugely entertaining. I really do want to go with her. Furthermore, China is complicated. With Alex and Laurent now in Japan, the alternative is starting out alone. Even with Kaili’s Chinese cheat sheet I remain culturally and linguistically way out of my depth, a position I am still coming to terms with. A flight, though. I originally started out to make an overland trip wherever possible and although I knew I would have to fly at some stage, I’m sure it is achievable to get from Chengdu to Hong Kong, my visa exit point, overland. I have ten days left on my visa to do it. It might even be a bit of an adventure, too. Speaking of the visa, sacrificing almost half of it now seems like, well, taking an easy way out. If I had been following the ‘easy way’ around the world, I would have got on a plane in London instead of the Eurostar. Another fork in the trip, then. Inside the soulless airport terminal I finally make up my mind. I actually miss the clamour and chaos of a train station. I resolve (through gritted teeth) to continue overland through China alone. For her part, Kaili almost misses her flight since the booking agents neglected to book her onto it or even charge her after her order. Only the first example to date of an attentive Chinese customer service representative and a 6-legged / 4-wheeled dash across the terminal gets her on the plane. Actually, we are both privately hoping she doesn’t make it. During the crucial ticket reordering conversations, where flight and credit card details are being triple-checked and time is short, I want to blurt out diverting questions like: “What’s 19 divided by 3 times 16.8?” “What does this button do?” “Can she take 34 lemons onboard? Does your lemon policy differ to your position on other citrus fruits?” But Kaili has pressed a postcard into my hand and disappeared through security. I am out of there sharply. I have breakfast, finish the previous night’s sleep and bus into the city to retake my place among the overland travelling fraternity.