Well, I made it to China! In fact, I’ve been back in Asia for almost two weeks. It’s crazy how time flies… it feels like I just said goodbye to Seattle yesterday.
The days before my departure on August 23rd were full of last minute goodbyes, shopping, and packing. I somehow managed to fit what felt like a month into just a few days! The whole hello/goodbye scenario is one that I got used to while living in China during high school. Just when I felt like I was getting settled down, we would return to the US for the summer… and just as I felt at home again in Seattle, we’d go back to China! Living in between countries and cultures is enriching, but it can also be difficult. This past year I finally felt as if I was starting to find my place artistically and personally as an adult in Seattle, and now I’ve uprooted myself once again. I’m excited for the opportunity, but there are some people and places I will miss like crazy.
But back to what’s been happening! I managed to check in all of my luggage (two very large bags), and survived the 13 hour flight to Hong Kong without disaster. In fact, I ended up having free Wi-Fi on the flight because of T-Mobile! I didn’t really sleep, since we left at 4PM Seattle time and arrived at 9PM Hong Kong time the next day… a very strange time jump.
In Hong Kong, I stayed with a family friend who was generous enough to give me a couch to rest my head on! I was only there a few days, but here are some highlights of being briefly back in my favorite Asian city:
Some Hong Kong snapshots....
- Riding the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbor (something my mother did as a child, and her love of that has been passed on down to me)
- Hanging out at my favorite mall and managing to find some clothes on sale! (Though sadly my favorite bookstore was closed)
- Touring the Fringe Club, which is a revitalized arts space in HK
- Meeting up with an old friend from high school who I hadn’t seen in four years
- Hibernating indoors for a whole day because of a typhoon, meaning I was able to watch all of the new Netflix series The Defenders
My main travel issues actually all happened when I was leaving Hong Kong, which I suppose was the ideal time, since at least I wasn’t jetlagged and exhausted from international travel. I left on Monday the 28th, the day after a typhoon, so it was still windy and rainy. The time I decided to head to the airport had three disastrous factors combined into one: rush hour, rain, and the taxi changeover time. After waiting for a taxi for half an hour, my host generously helped me carry my bags down Hong Kong’s Midlevel Escalators (the longest set of escalators in the world) to catch the metro to the airport. I could not have done it without her, since I had two very heavy bags!
Then at the airport, things got even more interesting. My flight was delayed (so at least the transportation problems didn’t make me late), and when I checked my bags, I had to pay about $100 in overweight fees because I was flying on a budget Chinese airline. Whoops! When they gave me my boarding pass, there was no gate number. I assumed that it would eventually show up on a reader board… which it did, approximately 15 minutes before the airplane was due to begin boarding! Once it finally appeared (I had been anxiously checking for over an hour) I had to book it to the gate, which was in a different terminal. That’s international travel for you!
The flight to Shanghai was a little over two hours, and I spent most of it doing readings for the intensive weeklong class I was about to take (more about that in a future post). Once in Shanghai, my bags came and I was able to make it to the taxi stand pretty quickly. The taxi ride to school took a little less than an hour, and the biggest surprise to me was that there was no honking! When I’ve lived in China before, honking is a way of life when driving. But apparently in Shanghai, honking is banned and there is a pretty significant fine. My driver flashed his lights at someone who cut him off once, and that was it!
I’ll save most of my Shanghai experiences so far for another blog post, but I think this counts as part of the travelling experience. Once I got to the dorm (and figured out how to enter after a few false tries), I found out that my room wasn’t ready, so I had to stay with someone else for the night. It would have been fine crashing in her dorm room, but unfortunately her AC was broken! So my first night back in China was spent sweating in the dark (it was in the 90s but felt like 100 with the humidity) in someone else’s dorm room. Ah, China… I’m back!