Friday, June 30, 2006

sino journal nine: the trip completed.

Wednesday June 28th and Thursday June 29th. The weather was warm and muggy when I left the apartment at a little after 6 a.m. After climbing down five floors of stairs, I rolled my suitcases a couple of blocks to a major intersection to hail a taxi. It is a whole lot easier to hail a taxi when you know the Chinese term for airport (pronounced fay gee chang). I had saved a set of fresh, clean clothes for the trip home. Now I was already dripping in sweat. By 11 a.m. I had completed my trip from Chengdu to Shanghai, collected my bags, and had to wait a mere seven hours until my United Airlines flight departed to Chicago.

Check in started at 3 p.m. I got in line at 2 p.m. in order to try for an emergency row seat. Even though I was one of the first to check in, I had to settle for an aisle seat. That was fine. I can always stretch one leg out in the aisle and trip the flight attendants. Such entertainment makes a 13½-hour flight go faster.

The flight left on time at 6 p.m. and I changed my watch to 6 a.m. Psychologically this helps me adjust to the new time zone. Instead of traveling through the night, I try to stay awake by thinking I’m traveling during the day. An uneventful flight. I only slept maybe an hour or an hour and a half.

After a month of trying to drink coffee in a nation of tea drinkers, I was very excited that on this flight, United served Starbucks coffee. How could it get any better?

It was the worst coffee I have ever had. By comparison, this airline-version Starbucks made coffee from a Chinese vending machine taste like something Paul Brown at his best would brew.

At Chicago, customs and immigration went smoothly. My flight to Syracuse was delayed twice, ultimately leaving and arriving 2½ to 3 hours late. Sue picked me up at the airport and by the time we left I-81 we were both hungry. So we stopped at the Longways diner for breakfast. We pulled into Canton about 6 a.m., just as the sun was rising.

36 hours of travel, 12 of it waiting in airports. Jet lagged. I will not be operating any heavy machinery for the next few days.

Thursday night I woke up out of a very sound sleep, in a dark room, not knowing where I was. I somehow realized a cat had walked across the bed. Funny, I don’t remember any cats in China. I got up to go to the bathroom. It looked somewhat familiar. The floor tiles weren’t a square foot each, but very much smaller. Strange, very strange. As I walked back down the hall to return to bed, I had a vague inkling that maybe I wasn’t in China anymore.


steph b said...

can't wait to hear about your advetures in person. thanks for the call. i was so shocked and very blessed. love ya much. Steph

Ann said...

Welcome home!! No "Paul Brown coffee" at church for a while... maybe you can talk the Mrs. into brewing some for you at home. Or maybe even Foldgers tastes good after being so deprived :)

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed hearing of your adventures this past Sunday! What an opportunity...Welcome home!!
Judy Tomford