Friday, January 30, 2009

Zhong Guo Cai

After a whirlwind, awful journey out of Ohio that took two days, and then another two day journey from Minnesota to Japan, and then Japan to Beijing, I am finally here. It is amazing to be in a country that is so different from my own, and I am still in the tourist mode that makes me think "oh my gosh, that Coke bottle has chinese characters on it, and it's only 25 cents!"

My trip here was longer than expected. I spent nine hours on Thursday waiting for my delayed flight to take off from Ohio. I'll save you the gory details of my experience with the Columbus airport and Northwest airlines. However, I will tell you that I learned an important life lesson. If you want to get anywhere in life, or anywhere in the 50 United States of America, don't fly Northwest.

My flight to Tokyo was really great. I was lucky, and I had the aisle seat in the center row of the plane, and the two seats in the middle of the row were empty. I was definitely able to catch a little bit of sleep with my lambie-esque bath and body works eye mask, Brookstone inflatable neck pillow, and pink fluffy socks that my Mom graciously donated to the Brittany Fund. The food was decent and the airline attendants were much nicer than those skanky ones in Columbus. The only thing that could have ruined my relaxation was the Japanese family sitting in front of me. Their two children were in the seats directly in front of me, and they were having a let's-see-who-can-put-their-seats-back-the-farthest-and-not-get-wacked contest. Luckily for me, the stewardess, who looked like a strict British school teacher, violently returned their seatbacks to the upright position, and they were petrified for the rest of the flight.

After landing in extreme turbulence it seems that someone a) threw up, b) died, or c) had a heart attack in the front of the plane but I still managed to make my Beijing flight. That flight was harder for me, and I spent most of it either slumped over my tray table or talking in broken Chinese to my fellow passenger, Wang Ling.

But now, I am here and enjoyed my first authentically Chinese meal an hour ago with some new friends. We ate rice, tofu, kung pow chicken, broccoli, eggplant, and three people ordered tsinghua (beer in China) which turned out to be in enormous bottles. All this food - and it was a LOT - cost us $2.50 a person. Pretty decent if you ask me.