The women stared at me with curiosity. The trough below China ethnic map the platform collects the waste which is later scooped into buckets and poured on the fields as China ethnic map fertiliser. The dormitory had six hard wooden beds – a bit spartan but I was glad I’d brought my sleeping bag for extra padding. And the night was fairly cold. At about midnight some men came in with a flashlight and shook me until I woke up. They shone the light in my face and asked to see my travel permit, but after checking that it was in order, they went away.
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This was largely guesswork, helpfully aided by the doctor who grinned and bobbed his head when the noise was still in existence and started to look sad and shake his head from side to side when it was disappearing. One of the doctors told me that I had a wandering pacemaker which made me nod, because I didn’t know what else to do; I didn’t know if it was serious. He discussed the matter sagely with another doctor and then told me it was fine, although I should check up on it from time to time. Check up on what? I wouldn’t know a wandering pacemaker from a wandering albatross. Once they decided that I was fighting fit, I was inoculated for cholera, tetanus, TABT and yellow fever and pronounced A1 OK to go. That night I read carefully through the contract with my parents, we signed, and I walked down the road in the quiet dark suburban English night to drop it in the post box. Five to midnight. The next week I went with my father to Miller Rayners, the naval tailor in Fenchurch Street, clutching my kit list. I was attended by a stooped scraggy man in a black jacket with a measure around his neck, who looked exactly like I felt a tailor should look. He measured me and discussed the problems of growing lads with my father, as if I wasn’t there.