Everyone knows that the last place you want to be in China is in the back of a police car on your way to the station. You’ll be glad to know that we hadn’t done anything illegal, but having right on your side isn’t that much comfort when you’ve just been robbed.

It was still raining in the morning when Joe ran out to the car to get some of the emergency instant coffee we’d stashed to get us through coffee-barren China. He jumped in and drove 20m to be parked square in front of the hostel and then looked in the back and realised there was something seriously wrong. The back of the car was in turmoil. Someone had been inside, and they’d gone through everything, even the stinking laundry bag. They’d pulled our every possession out of every cupboard, folder and pocket – they’d even picked apart the contents of the fridge.

Joe comes back to tell me and I feel sick at the thought of some dirty little felon riffling through our stuff. I knew our passports, wallets, laptops were safe. On the other hand, I immediately knew what would be gone. We sat in the back and picked through the rubble whilst the rain poured down outside and did a mental reckoning of what we’d lost. I was so annoyed with myself. I’m normally the most neurotic, OCD security conscious psycho you’ve ever met – and yet last night, I’d decided not to nag Joe, not to double check the locks like I normally do. And now we’d been robbed. Idiots. We always take our valuables in with us, but just this once, in our exhaustion, in a lapse of laziness because it was raining sheets, we’d accidentally left one bag in the car; our video camera bag. Stupid idiots. The camera was gone, and with it, all our China footage and photos. They’d also picked up our guides GPS and our iPods too. And we couldn’t figure out how they’d got in.

We wonder what good calling the police will be – the stuff is gone and irreplaceable (here) and all we’ll do is waste each others time, but the hostel get wind of what’s happened and call the police anyway.  We spend half an hour standing in the foyer of the Police station whilst two chiefs argue over whose jurisdiction our street is in, and finally we’re given a bit of paper and told to go to the tourist police tomorrow to get a statement for our insurance. 

We knew we couldn’t travel for a year without some kind of crime or misadventure affecting us. When it boiled down to it, after 8 months of travelling we’d somehow managed to drop our guard, and we had to learn our lesson the hard way. Still, we agreed as we sat in the hostel drinking tea and silently scathing to ourselves, there’s no point being annoyed – getting annoyed just drains energy, and we needed a lot of energy to get through the rest of China. Chins up.