Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Chinese pilgrimage to Cambridge
The Chinese, now richer and freer than before have become great tourists.
France is a favourite destination. The rich Chinese have developed a taste for wine, adore the south of France,largely because of Peter Mayle's "Life in Provence" and because a television series "Dream links " was shot in the Midi.
Britain is not as popular.According to our Prime Minister, we lanquish in 22nd place and this is not likely to change given that our bureaucrats make it so difficult to get a tourist visa. An eighty year old man from India was refused a visa because he might choose to marry a UK citizen and stay here. The fact that he was already married with a family was not considered relevant.
One place sought out by Chinese tourists is Cambridge. It's history, ancient buildings and tranquil river Cam are seen as attractive of course. However it's real draw was that Xu Zhimso studied there ninety years ago and penned a poem so;
"Quietly now I leave the Cam,
As quietly as I came.
Gently wave farewell the clouded
Western sky aflame....
There the golden willow stands
a bride of sunset's glow.
How its dancing ripples glint
and stir my heart below"
The willow still stands in the grounds of Kings college and is the base for pilgrims. Next to it is a marble boulder on which this poem is inscribed
Xu died young but his poems created great prestige for Cambridge. Perhaps his shade still rests under this ancient willow and watches todays young as they punt on the Cam.