Across Continents

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Magic plastic

Magic card - web

Normally I jealously guard just two things. Practicalities you understand. My wallet. And my passport. In China, add my phrase book, frustratingly limited though it is. And a small, laminated plastic card. Describes my venture in Simplified Chinese, and asks that you help make my journey safe.

I’d similar cards for Europe and Central Asia but none had ever had quite the impact as my Chinese one. Opened doors. Literally. Where, in all probability, I’d have been turned away from shelter, I’d be allowed to stay. Sometimes for nothing, perhaps just the equivalent of a few pounds.

But it’s usefulness extended beyond just a room for the night. Struggling in the midst of the Gobi desert, barely able to stop the bike from flipping over in gale force crosswinds, the card allowed me to quickly explain to a passing lorry driver what exactly I was up to. I’m sure he’d have helped in any case. But, if he ever thought otherwise, it did show there was some purpose to my apparent madness.

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