I hate flights. They’re a waste of my time and they take too long. Hong Kong to Paris is no exception - but at least this time I managed to ignore the annoying mainland Chinese passenger next to me and get a good six hours’ sleep. Funny thing is, whilst I’m in the air, so many things are happening. A friend and old flatmate of mine is getting married, the whole of the UK is getting ready for the Queen’s 60th Jubilee, and I’m finally finding the time to listen to Cabin Pressure. It’s the time I’m trapped on a plane that I object to - I just want to get there and get on with it. I’m sure everyone’s the same.
And then you reach Paris, and it’s like... You know that moment in Farscape, the pilot episode, where John Crichton stands there and goes ‘I’m actually on a different planet’? It’s that feeling. I’ve never been to France - save one booze cruise to Cherbourg and a few three-hour plane changes - so this is weird. It’s close to something like England, but it’s really nothing like England. For one thing, the cars on the other side of the road is weird. If cars are on the other side of the road, they must be Chevrolets or big Fords or just big American things. But here, the cars are the same as the ones they sell to the UK, just with their steering set to the other side, so it’s… very odd.
Weather’s not so great, but hey, a bit of cold air and a smattering of cold rain never hurt anyone. And seeing as I’ve just come from the 28 degree, 85% humidity of Hong Kong, it’s all good. It’s nice not to be sweating my arse off just going from the train station to the front door at work.
The architecture - brilliant. They’ve kept all the originals and even though houses are falling down next door, they keep up the palatial grandeur of the old buildings. There’s something magical in how old everything is. England does the same, I know - but again, I’ve been living in Hong Kong for nearly ten years now, and anything older than the 1960s gets torn down to make some modern nightmare skyscraper. Old is good.
The fact that not a lot of people speak English is also good, in my view. I did my French exams nineteen years ago - and since then, I’ve never used it. I’ve even replaced it with a more useful language since. But as soon as you reach France and you need to read road signs and general notices on things, a lot of it comes back to you. Surprising, but useful. And so what if people don’t speak English? They’re French, after all. One, they’re not English, and two, they’re French. If anyone’s going to be against speaking English of all languages, it’s the French. I say good luck to them, and I hope they don’t start learning English. How boring would the world be if every destination you went to spoke and used English for everything?
That’s about it, I think. More sights to see.