If you can’t sleep and you look at a map of China and then you look at a map of the U.S., and you start toggling back and forth, faster and faster and faster, squinting your eye, sitting on a couch, there is a crazy kind of resemblance, but China is definitely busting out, with a wild, squiggly border, Jack Nicholson hair and a belly flopping into the South China Sea. The U.S. border, by contrast, seems eerily tidy, that long flat line for Canada, the gentle curve of the west coast, but of course the obscenity that is Florida.
Toggling between the U.S. and China, Beijing is New York. New England is fatter and curvier, perhaps having eaten Quebec. Instead of Nova Scotia, you get North Korea, South Korea and below that, Japan.
Meanwhile, Guangzhou, where I’m headed, would be way down in Louisiana, looking east at the East China Sea and south at the South China Sea. (The Delta National Wildlife Refuge is Hong Kong and instead of Cuba, a slightly further paddle, the Philippines). In fact, the southeast corner of China curves just like the U.S., except Florida is chopped off and floating a bit off shore and they call it Taiwan.
Moving over from Louisiana to San Antonio, Texas, where you might hitch up your pretty horse with your best friend and ride southwest to Monterrey, Mexico, that would be Hanoi, Vietnam. If you ran into a spot of trouble, you could ride south through Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, all fitting easily into Mexico.
To the north, above China (if you will), you have Mongolia right where we have Saskatchewan and Manitoba. That’s less helpful because to most Americans Saskatchewan might as well be Mongolia. Awesome throat singing there, eh?
In the west, right around Las Vegas, you get Tibet. To the south, Mount Everest would go in the Grand Canyon. You might pause for a moment here and wonder…
This is what you would discover if you toggled between the maps and squinted your eye a bit. Afterwards, you’d want to go back to bed. Definitely don’t tell anyone what you were up to.