Day One: The Not Sleeping

GREETINGS FROM THE WORLD OF TOMORROW! Yeah, we’re on the otherside of the international dateline so its 2am Friday as I write this. China doesn’t use time zones so its all the same time across the country. It is also exactly 12 hours different from Eastern Time. So if you want to know what time it is for us, just look at your watch and switch the am to pm or vice versa.

So my plan was to let folks know how we were doing every step of the way. However at every stop there was a fee to pay for internet service up until we got to the hostel. And it was so busy earlier that I couldn’t get much of anywhere. So here is what all happened:

The Orlando flight went mostly smooth. Delayed in getting boarded, but managed to arrive an hour and a half earlier than expected in LAX. The landing was bumpy and Amanda had to hold back getting sick, but luckily nothing happened and we moved on. While walking from Terminal 5 to the International Terminal we met Erik Estrada who was seeing his niece off on her flight, but was cool enough to let Amanda get her picture taken with him.

The counter for China East didn’t open until 9am. We were supposed to get there at 9:30am, and istead arrived at 8am. So by the time we got over there we still had a 30 minute wait but we really had nothing but time to kill. After we got our boarding passes and learned that we would need to pick up our checked bagage in Shanghai and go through customs. The Delta folks didn’t tell us that so we were very greatful. If we hadn’t been told we would have left our luggage behind. We got some food, got through the security gate that was on the completely opposite side of where we were going, and a nice long walk down to the very last gate (isn’t it always the way?), and watched the latest episode of True Blood while waiting.

It was after the True Blood that we met another couple from the Orlando flight also going to China to teach english. They aren’t with our agency, but it was nice to have another couple to talk to and share similar stories with. I hit it off with the guy, Derek, as he turned out to be a bit of a nerd like myself and we managed to talk comics and board games.

The China flight was late getting boarded, then had a delay to take off. So we got off and hour and ten minutes late. The flight was smooth, but the food was airline food, most the in flight movies weren’t in english, and sleep just wouldn’t come. But we got here, the landing was much smoother, Amanda didn’t get at all sick, and we were somehow 30 minutes early. We got through Immigration very quickly, 6 people working the Foreigner line helped speed things up. The good news is the carts for luggage are free at the airport in Shanghai so that made getting around sooooo much easier. We got our checked bags, found out we didn’t have anything on the declaration list and just zipped through customs. We then attempted to check into our next flight for 3pm for Friday but that was a no-go. So we stored our checkin luggage at the airport and proceeded to the Metro to get to the Hostel.

When Amanda made the arrangements she didn’t check to see just how far the Hostel was from the Airport. Via the Metro it took and hour and a half. The Metro runs pretty fast, but there were close to 25 stops between us and the Hostel. Oh, I should also mention it was 97 degrees when we landed. Yay for not escaping the heat or the humidity. Oh and the airport was a giant glass building. So we got the hostel, checked in all hot and sweaty, took showers and decided to do a walk around the block as it was now 10pm and much too late to be trying to find something to do.

I will say this, there is a smell the air here. It isn’t clean, but I’m not about to start coughing up a lung either. Its just…unpleasant. People here do use their horns a lot when driving. We also did get stared at a few times as we walked. We also saw 3 people walking pet dogs and one pet cat. Most of the vehicles on the streets are scooters or motorbikes, each chained down with a lock that isn’t fooling around not in use. We stopped in a few small shops along the way, basically convenice stores. All of them had coke, pepsi, sprite, fanta, 7up, but no Mountain Dew. We also found M&Ms;, Pringles (although none of the flavors common to the US), Dove chocolate, and lots of ramen type noodle packs. Oh, and cooked chicken wings in vaccum sealed bags.

So right now its about 2:30 am. I tried to sleep but just couldn’t for some reason. I’m hoping its mostly from a need to get back down here to the lobby and get these words out so I can atleast feel like I’m able to still talk to folks.