Back in China

It's nice to be back. To be honest though, it kind of feels like I never left; like all the experiences of the last 12 weeks were just lived out in some remote corner of China that resembled home. Weird. I guess that comes from the fact that I was only gone during the summer, and I was so busy and it went so fast. Still a strange sensation. Eerie almost, to be retracing the same route I took to come home back in May, only backwards. Very strange.

The flight was great though, nothing at all to complain about. I think the most terrifying thing about a flight - more so than turbulence or a sketchy landing - is that period of time while you're seated before the flight waiting for your "rowmates" to arrive. Will they be obnoxious? Have kids? Get nauseous? Clip their nails or snore loudly? I was fortunate enough to sit next to a slender, passive Chinese guy who knew English and slept most of the time. These things make all the difference in a 14-hour flight.

It's always impressive to me how efficient Chinese airports are. I'm sure they experience the same traffic as most American airports (if not more, considering China's population is roughly five times that of the US), and yet, everything is handled carefully and smoothly. Lines move swiftly and there's never any confusion, even if you're a foreigner.

At the Shanghai airport I passed my 5-hour layover online. I'm rarely willing to pay those ridiculous WiFi fees, but as I was sitting there reading Jurassic Park in the noisy terminal I suddenly realized that I had no idea where I was going once I flew into my city. I logged into my email and fortunately my roommate had sent me a message with our address. He spelled all the details out carefully, in the Apartment Complex/Street Name/Building No./Entrance No./Apartment No. format typical to China.

The final flight went smoothly. It seems that most airplanes used for domestic flights in China are really new - built in the 90's or even within the decade. The smell better, feel more comfy, and everything just looks a lot newer. Including the stewardesses. I don't think US airlines have been updated in any of these aspects since the 60's.

Took a cab to the apartment, hauled my luggage up the stairs, and walked in to the cheers of a bunch of people in the dark. Turns out a bunch of my friends here decided to throw a surprise party for my return. I was handed a fosty mug of beer and a slice of Papa John's pizza (a new arrival since I left) and told everyone about my crazy summer.

Oh man, it is good to be home.

posted by Mr. Linty @ 1:10 PM,


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