To Hunan!


This post was originally published in 2009
It may contain stale & outdated information. Or it may have grown more awesome with age, like the author.

Again, with the 6AM start. Breakfast was similar to what we had yesterday. Nah, it was exactly the same. Again, the spinach was best. Yes, I do think it is strange that spinach was offered for breakfast. These are the type of things one must become accustomed to when traveling. In New Zealand, for breakfast we eat toast or cereal. Almost never fried rice and spinach. Those are what we call “dinner food”.

Waiting on the busAfter dinner breakfast, guess what we did? That’s right: boarded the bus. Then what? We waited! I’m not sure what we were waiting for, as nothing much was happening. No-one got off or left the bus during the hour. Strange? It would become familiar. Eventually, after the planets had reached the appropriate alignment, we left the hotel forever. We drove to the airport and were ejected from the bus.

We milled about in the airport entrance for sometime, unsure of what we were supposed to do. Eventually a guide came and herded us in the correct direction. He then proceeded to demand our passports, apparently so our check-in could be processed more smoothly. We handed our precious booklets over, then waited. And waited. After more waiting we finally saw him return with a bag of passports and a fistful of boarding passes. Uniting the trinity of human, passport and boarding pass was entertaining – no-one could read more than 50% of the names in his fistful of boarding passes. I started yelling out my mis-pronounciations of names until we all had our required documents.

Although we had now checked in, we still had to get our luggage on the plane. This involved more waiting and queuing. Finally, when it was done, we were directed to the boarding area, where we waited some more. Along the way people were lost and had to be recovered, mostly from toilets or fast-food stores.

It was a relief to finally get on the plane.

On a plane!About 95% of the passengers on our plane were from the Chinese Bridge group – we received more than a few confused looks from local Chinese passengers. I found myself seated between a tiny Japanese woman and a Chinese man.

As we all know, there are many Chinese with a rather low opinion of the Japanese.

After finding out that Yvonne (my wife) is Chinese, he said I was China’s 亲戚, or son-in-law. He also gave me most of his food. I ate it (even the massive amount of rice) because I wanted to be polite. I was very full. We talked for the whole flight, which was great because I wasn’t tired at all and definitely didn’t need sleep. Every now and then he’d lean over and make some comment about Japanese people. Quite entertaining.

When we landed some people clapped, I think they were Russians. Apparently surviving a plane landing is quite an event over there. After landing all this mist started coming out of the air conditioning. It was strange. I took a video of it, you can see it here: mist on a plane.

Changsha, Hunan was hot. Very hot. It hit us like a wave as soon as we left the airport. Luckily there was an air-conditioned bus waiting for us, to wait in.

And in that bus, we waited.

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