The first leg of my adventure is best summed up in numbers:
25: total hours spent traveling from apartment door to hotel door
3: the number of fabulous traveling companions I had – 1 colleague, 1 faculty member, 1 student
3ish: the number of hours our flight out of Newark was delayed, first due to a computer problem (don’t worry Mom, they fixed it) and then, because it took so long to fix the computer problem, they had to switch out most of the flight crew. I have never been held on the tarmac for so long before, although I’ve heard much worse stories. But there’s no sense in getting angry or frustrated – there’s nothing you can do! So I just made a serious dent in Factory Girls and got a headstart on a nap.
2: the number of people in my row, meaning there was a WHOLE EXTRA SEAT FOR ME TO CURL UP IN AND SLEEP! And sleep I did… a little anyway.
By the time we finally landed in Shanghai, it was so late all I could make out was a vaguely orange-ish smog haze around the city, and lots of lights as we were shuttled to the hotel. The view from my window is similarly luminous:
My very first meal in China was similarly anti-climactic: room service. BUT I did practice using my chopsticks, eventually giving up and using the spoon they gave me – thank God I ordered soup or I would have really been stuck! And there were some UPETs (Unidentified Presumably Edible Things) in my soup, which I bravely ate. I would show you a picture but they were so transparent you wouldn’t be able to make them out; I almost thought I was imagining them. I think they were some sort of very faint mushroom.
Since my last 30 or so hours have been sublimely uninteresting, I am taking pleasure in the small things …
– being able to communicate with a Shanghai-based colleague via text
– finding all 13 of the boxes I shipped (which had been stuck in customs for over a week) miraculously delivered to our hotel, intact!
And looking forward to tomorrow, when I get to finally meet my Shanghai colleague and try the famous Shanghai soup dumplings. My mouth is already watering. Goals: do not burn my tongue; do not embarrass myself with the chopsticks.
I’m off to try and get myself on Shanghai time (which is 12 hours ahead of the eastern US, by the by.) 再见－ Zai jian! (Goodbye!)