I love maps. When I was very young I created an imaginary country called Egna and drew various maps of it showing towns, roads, mountain ranges, mineral deposits, you name it (see right). I loved doing map jigsaws, especially the ones which had pieces shaped like countries or states or counties. I got heavily into Ordnance Survey maps, and when we went on camping holidays to France I bought around 20 Michelin maps. My bedroom walls were plastered with posters of Debbie Harry, Roger Dean landscapes and South East Asia. Similarly, the study wall I'm staring at now is taken up with maps of Thailand and Bangkok. I once wanted to be a cartographer or town planner. And of course Geography was my favourite subject, until I went and studied it at university.
Today I bought a map of Beijing and spent an hour or so marking it with where the British Council is, the locations of schools (very spread out) and therefore where our accommodation options are. Instantly the city is starting to make sense.