Ok, so today I needed to be at the airport by about 12, so I was booked onto the 11:20 bus from the hotel... I'm already regretting the weight of my bags and looking forward to offloading some stuff to Nikki and Tony, although I think the fact that I need to wear several layers will help lighten the load.
I was lucky I had a nice (ish) check in dude who let me squeeze 30kg in insteaD OF The allowed 20kg and then had a few hours to wander around the airport... again the food issue was a bit scary, but I was a bit more adventurous today and went to a Yum Cha place where again the old point and smile techique worked a treat. I did stand out like Dogs Balls as an obvious foreigner and I didn't do really well with chopsticks and just used my fingers - I may sound like I was adventurous but I only had spring rolls and dumpling things but it was a step towards new things. I could have just had burger king but I figured having come all this way I need to be trying to eat chinese food.
So after my achievement of a strange lunch reverted back to american food and had a Ben and Jerrys icecream (I've seen it on the movies and wanted to try it) and it was very good.
One thing I've found about the experience so far is it forces you to be very contemplatve, mainly because I can't talk to anyone and just have to sit and smile while everyone talks about me or tries to talk to me through NIkki or Tony
I was amazed by all the shops at the airport, all the major brand names like Hermes and others. It was also pretty cool that in the duty free shops the girls were wearing special outfits for each product. small things amuse smallminds I guess.
So once I headed down to the gate, I really did standout and pretty much lost all ability to communicate apart from point smile and grunt. (by this time I had repurchased some travel books as I'd forgotten to pack the ones from home and was trying to learn some Mandarin words - not very successful although Nikki and Tony are helping me,teaching me new words every day.)
I was surpised when they called us to board the plane that you actually board a bus thing (its capacity was 9 seated, 135 standing so it was very much like canned sardines, and when no more could fit in at the front, they just open another door to fill the back section or side section. Then once everyone was in we were off, and off and off, for a while there I wondered if we would be driving to Jinan, but no we were just going to the edge of the airport where the plane was parked. I guess its a good idea and space saver.
so the plane trip wasn't very eventful, my big jacket started to pay for itself and made a great pillow. It was amusng for me also that as soon as they called us for theplane everyone put their big warm jackets on, so I followed suit but I didn't actually need it until I got off the plane(and I definitely needed it then.