Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's the Journey, Right?

It should have been a sign that when Bob and I got to the airport Thursday afternoon, and he realized he had forgotten his passport and had to go home to get it that this trip was jinxed. 

It should have been another sign when we made it onto the plane....and sat on the runway for another two hours waiting to take off.

It should have been yet another sign that the flight was so turbulent I couldn't read, the words on the iPad screen jumping around like ants.

Now we've Wuhan, which is nowhere near Guanzhou. And all I can think of is beer. I've craved a beer since this morning when I walked around in the hot sun at a beautiful park and had more fun watching the Chinese embrace a beautiful spring day with dancing and singing and eating and shopping than I had looking at the trees. It's been a long long day.

After a long wait in Wuhan, we took off again, finally landing in Guanzhou at about 3. By the time we got our bags, it was even later. We found a black cab, thinking to pay more but bypass the hugely long taxi line. Meanwhile, our cabbie -- who already had another passenger in the front seat -- started circling the airport, clearly looking to stuff yet one more body in his tiny car. How do you say WTF in Cantonese? I told Bob I was sure he spoke the universal language of Pissed Off and after threatening to jump out of the cab, we finally headed to our hotel. By this time, the night was almost over.

We eventually found our hotel, which was doubly hard to find because it had shut off all its lights. When we staggered in to the darkened lobby, the two clerks at the reception were sound asleep with their heads down on their keyboards and none too thrilled to check us in. Why are you so late? they asked us suspiciously. As if we preferred to check into hotels at 5 am, when most of the night was over.

Anyway, we got into the room, slept for an hour, showered, and grabbed a quick breakfast in the KFC next door. We went to Daniel's classes as "special guests," which was worth all of the craziness. Lots of applause, lots of compliments and funny questions -- what color is your cat, where have you gone in China-- and quite the lift from being treated like a celebrity.  We hopped on a train to Hong Kong, so tired that it was hard to watch the tropical green countryside whiz by. Now we're here in Hong Kong, which is truly a cosmopolitan place: world class sushi at world class prices, shopping opportunities on every corner, and this great colonial foreign correspondents club where we downed several gin and tonics while I hungrily worked my way through the IHT, the WSJ Asia, the NYT, USA Today, and Cosmopolitan. Not necessarily in that order.

Hong Kong feels like a cool mix of Manhattan and London, and the only people who shove me here are the mainland Chinese who come to load up on Prada and Apple products and scream at each other in the lobby of our hotel.

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