Saturday, October 10, 2015

Here We Go, China, Here We Go

The big day is finally here. As I write this, I'm sitting in the business class lounge at the airport in Toronto waiting for my connection to Shanghai. I've been up since 1:30am and truthfully, I didn't sleep last night as I was too anxious (and too paranoid about oversleeping!). The car service my company booked arrived at my house in the dead of night a little before 2am for the two hour drive to the airport. There's an airport only a half hour from my house but for some reason, flights out of there were thousands of dollars more expensive; it was actually cheaper for me to hire a car to take me to and from the airport, believe it or not. The ride into Baltimore was nice and easy...how could it not be when I was sitting in the back of a plush, comfortable luxury SUV? The driver was a really nice fellow and the conversation was excellent. When he dropped me off at BWI, I was groggy but quickly woke up when I walked inside: I couldn't believe how many people were there that early for flights. After checking in my suitcase, I made my way to security and then to the gate. To say I was taken aback when I saw the plane we'd be boarding for Toronto would be an understatement; I've been on some small shuttles for short flights, but this had to be the smallest plane I've ever been on! A twin turboprop that held, at most, 24 people, it was nonetheless a full flight. I was able to doze a little bit, but it wasn't very satisfying or refreshing.

Ninety minutes later, I landed in Toronto. The first thing I noticed when I got off of the plane and onto the tarmac was how much colder it was than back home...unsurprising since this is Canada, but I could see my breath here while back home it was considerably warmer. The Rush fan in me geeked out a little bit because the call-letters for the Toronto airport are YYZ (if you're not a Rush fan, look up their song "YYZ" to understand what I mean). Also, this is a MASSIVE airport. One thing I found comical was that I had to make a really long walk from the terminal all the way through customs and immigration (where the agents were quite cranky) and then on to the international terminal where I had to go through security yet again. When I finally rounded the corner to start walking toward my gate, I passed right by where I first had to go to customs! I had a little chuckle over that.

By this time I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since dinner last night and I was starving. Luckily, since I am flying business class on Air Canada, I was able to access their Maple Leaf Lounge, which offers free food, beverages, comfy furniture, clean bathrooms, and free WiFi (which I am using as I write this post). This brings us to the present, where I'm boarding in one hour to make the final leg of this journey to Shanghai. So many questions are going through my head: what will business class actually be like on the plane? Will I be able to sleep? What will the airport be like in Shanghai? What will customs and immigration be like? The hotel? The food? The conference? I have a mental list of things I'm simultaneously anxious, nervous, and excited about, but in every respect the overriding feeling I have is of great curiosity. As I finish this post, I'm reminded that sites like Facebook and Google are banned from use in China; the Blogger platform I use for this site is a Google product, so I'm not sure if I will be able to post again before coming home. If I can, I'll continue the travelogue; if not, I'll post more once I'm back in the USA. Either way, this trip is sure to be an experience I won't forget.

2 comments:

  1. That's the way I am before some special event. I can't sleep either for the reason you cited. I'm afraid I'll oversleep, I'll recheck the alarm clock to see if I set it right, and my mind is just running, though my body is tired. It's nuts. Plus like you said you have this anxiety that plays over and over in your mind, and after all is said and done, nothing, generally speaking was worth worrying about. It runs pretty smoothly. I guess it's a part of the human condition. Safe journey.

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    1. Exactly! Thankfully I had a car picking me up to go to the airport and a nice seat/bed in business class to sleep on the long flight. Just got back yesterday...was a great trip! I'm going to write it up some more now that I don't have to worry about censored Internet.

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