many years ago, 2002 to be exact, i made a trip to mainland china. it was one of those two week deals where if it’s tuesday it must be shanghai type things. all in all very interesting especially the great wall. however, there were a couple of “incidents” that sort of stand out. one concerning vladimir putin and i’m still really not sure what was up with the other one.
first off, during the trip we stayed in xian for a few days. a lovely very old walled city with a moat around it. that would be in the really old part of town. we were on our way to see the terra cotta warriors outside the city. a truly wonderful experience if you get the chance to do so. on the way there we stopped at a factory that made small terra cotta figurines of the actual warriors, horses, and such at the site.
while at the terra cotta factory there was a guy standing around with big sony video camera on a tripod. i went up and started talking to him about his camera. he had an odd accent. turns out he was a russian tv news photographer or that was his story. he said they were doing “set ups” as putin was visiting the factory the next day before he went to see the actual warrior site. i didn’t speak to the talking head that was with him. anyways, after chatting with the ruskie and getting him to pose for some video i wondered off taking more video of the factory. suddenly, this extremely nice looking chinese babe came out of nowhere like a sudden heart attack and asked me in very good english if i’m getting some nice pictures. this kinda freaked me out. who was she? where did she come from? i said yeah and blew her off. i think she may have been chinese langley. did she and the chinese think i was cia as well?
yes, well, then it got a bit weirder.
later that day we were at the terra cotta digs when 3 guys in very bad suits walked past us. i immediately made them for russians. one of them stopped turned around and gave me the eye for a minute or two. guess he had heard about me from someone at the terra cotta factory. or something. i ignored him. putin was to be at the site as well the next day. so i guess they were just some more russian “cultural” folks checking stuff out in advance. did the russians think i was cia too? what was going on? we heard a day or so later the chinese closed the place for 3 hours so putin could look at the shit by himself and not be disturbed. i hope he had a grand time.
several days later we were in guilin. a lovely spot in south china almost to the north vietnam border. the main touristy thing there is a four hour boat ride down the li river. wonderful scenery. amazing stuff.
after a long day of sightseeing, dinner, and probably too much beer we went to a chinese stage show in the hotel where we were staying. a nice show and more beer. however, i had a hard time staying awake.
after the we show got in the elevator to go up to our room. two nicely dressed westerners get in too. for some reason we are the only people in the elevator. which was very weird because of the number of people who had been watching the show and were now heading back to their rooms in the hotel. we get up to our floor. the men stayed in the elevator and as we get out one of them says, in an aussie or british accent, good night, john. yeah, no shit. i had never seen those guys before. i just ignored them and kept on walking. however, i was jolted.
very spooky and strange and the last time on the trip that i noticed anyone taking any interest in me in a langley sort of way. i had completely forgotten this little incident until i was reading some old emails. even now it seems very bizarre. we were at least 600 miles from xian and the russian, chinese terra cotta warrior deal. now out of nowhere i had british MI6(?) guys wishing me a good night. hmm…odd…very odd.
this originally appeared here in july of 2014. with all the stuff going on about and putin and you know who, i thought it would be nice to re-visit the post.