Tuesday, July 22, 2014

China Day 1: The 37 Hour Day

While in China the past 3 weeks, I wrote blogs but couldn't get enough internet to upload them. I will be uploading them throughout the next few weeks while I hang out in the US of A drinking water straight out of the tap and having my personal space respected. Here we go!

So, it takes a long time to fly to the other side of the earth, although if you zoom out enough on the Delta seatback flight tracker, it doesn’t seem so bad (the blurriness is rather apt, considering my state of mind when I took this picture):

Last year when I flew to Spain I couldn’t sleep on the plane and ended up landing at 8:30am Spain time, forced to slog through another full day when I had just finished one, I decided I would never make that mistake again. So, I get on the plane in Detroit, settle in for 13 hours of flying by taking a lunesta…. And 30 minutes later another lunesta…. And 30 minutes later 2 more lunesta….

NO JIM YOU MAY NOT SLEEP ON PLANES. So, drunk on Lunesta, I gave up, ate 6 Pro Bars, and watched about 100 things. Planes are great places to catch up on the following:

1.       Finally listen to that Coltrane album people say is good.
2.       Crap movies
3.       Good movies
4.       Wet wipe bathroom showers
5.       Crossword puzzles
6.       Lunesta hangover remedies
7.       Not sleeping in a plane

So, we finally land in Beijing, and here is the first thing I see:

The smog is no joke. Neither is that barbed wire.
Rapidly I also began to realize that a lot of those unwritten rules we Americans all abide by, namely social cues and personal space respect and political correctness, DO NOT APPLY. I would say as a general rule we shy away from using the word Quarantine on a sign over a hallway that most people will be walking through.

I don’t like my options.
Also, personal space and passive aggressiveness are both not a thing here. Instead of waiting for each row to empty ahead of you on the plane, and if someone takes a long time giving them a look or a sigh, it’s just full speed ahead to the next destination, regardless of who is in the way. I mean, in America, people get in fights over touching each other. In China its like bump drafting until there is daylight to pass.

Anyways, in zombie mode we gathered up our large amount of luggage and tried to re-check on to China Southern in Beijing, because we still had a 4 hour flight left. This was a big task:

Thumbs up for Biknd Roller Bags!!!
After a large bit of rolling bikes around the Beijing Airport for 2 hours reenacting Are You My Mother?  But with bike bags, we were finally free of them, likely to never see them again, and allowed to get on a bus to the plane, which was a thing.

We can all learn from this boarding process. All these people were in their seats in 5 minutes flat.
First note: it is still light out! Its now been light out for like, way too long. Any time someone opened their window shade on the flight to Beijing it was like a plane full of Vampires melting into their seats.

Second note: It takes approximately 17 hours for Lunesta to kick in (or you are just tired at 5am or whatever it was for me) because I hear we sat on the tarmac for 2 hours after boarding the flight to Xining (pronunciation unknown) but all I remember is waking up and everyone was finishing off the meal service and I was super sad about that.

We land in Xining, which is not Qinghai (which was my reasoning to conclude that we were not done traveling yet), and load up some big trucks with our stuff, and then load ourselves in a bus for a 45 minute drive to Qinghai. It this point it is now 10am next day for me, 11pm for China. Bus ride happens. We arrive. Get me in bed. But wait, you cannot drink the water, thirsty athlete. So..

After nearly 30 hours of travel we were walking down some strange alley to buy water with borrowed Yuan talking about how Iowa State used to make fun of Syracuse for having a crappy football team from our translator. That’s fine. I don’t know anything about that. But its fine, im on auto pilot. Finally, we arrive at a building that is like a hotel but isn’t, but looks nice all the same (the highlight being the see-through glass wall for the bathroom, which I found out about from Dave after my shower). Ahh yes, finally, sleep. I collapse on to the bed, which is about the same time I found out the beds were more like cinder blocks with sheets on them, and the pillows are just bags of tiny rocks.

Damnit. Whatever. Get me to sleep. I slept for 6 restless hours, and woke up at 6:30am, and here I am with no internet writing this blog. Hey, at least we made it!