I spent the summer of 2002 working on my PhD in the astronomy department at PKU in Beijing. I had an amazing time in China and so I was very happy when an opportunity to return arose - a conference to be held in the outskirts of Beijing. So, on a Sunday evening in April I headed to Heathrow to start my journey back to China.
Disaster struck early in the journey. Although it was a Sunday there were a few thesis-writing PhD students in the office, and I got a call from one of them saying I'd left my laptop behind. It was too late for me to go back. I tried to persuade them that they could catch the Heathrow Express and get to the airport before me (I was taking the tube) and save me the embarrassment of turning up for my first ever conference talk without said talk in my possession. But they didn't feel like racing across London on account of my forgetfulness, so I went to China without the main reason for my going.
I was tired and jetlagged when I arrived in China. I got a taxi from the airport to the conference venue in the Fragrant Hills, near where I'd climbed Incense Burner Peak with a People's Liberation Army engineer on a fearsomely hot August day five years earlier. I managed to transfer my talk from college onto a computer here in China, and so I was able to give my presentation the next day when the conference got under way. A constant supply of green tea kept me awake when necessary during the three days of conference.