I finally got on the plane.
Nothing special about it, just an ordinary large jet plane.
I was seated next to a friendly guy from Delhi. He was heading back home, only making a transfer in Shanghai. He wanted to chat, like I said he was friendly. But my nerves at that point were shot.
So I explained why I was headed over, how I was very nervous, had barely been on a plane before, and let him tell me what he was doing.
But after that 5 minutes of conversation, I politely declared my nerves were bad, and stopped talking.
He didn't seem insulted, but I still felt bad about cutting off conversation.
Unfortunately, I had been telling the truth, I couldn't talk intelligently. There was also a loud rushing sound from the wind outside, or possibly the fans, so I could barely hear anything.
My hearing is not the greatest, and the wind was at just the right pitch it deafened me.
The most interesting part of the trip was the meal. I had no idea if my ticket included a meal or not. Considering it was a 12 hour trip, a meal would be really nice.
So the flight attendants started handing out meals. They were skipping some people and going directly to others. It was fairly easy to guess that you had to have specially ordered a meal to get one.
The man beside me called over a stewardess and asked what was going on. She explained that the people who ordered meals with their tickets got theirs first, and if any were left over, we'd get some then.
I was starving, but again, nerves, sheer raving terror at my future prospects, and a severe apathy brought on by hunger, kept me from arguing.
The man from Delhi, on the other hand, was not exactly apathetic.
He started arguing how the ticket didn't give him the option, and it was impossible on a 12 hour flight that we would not be served.
He did keep it fairly quiet, and didn't insult the stewardess, so I just sat in my seat and waited.
A few minutes later his supper was served. Mine came about 5 minutes later.
After that the other 2 meals came promptly to everyone.
The worst thing on the plane, other then the constant noise of the wind, was how my fingers went numb. I didn't actually stand up, except once to go to the bathroom. But I did flex my muscles regularly to keep the blood flowing. So I'm going to assume the numbness came from pressure changes. Because my toes felt totally normal, and I'd expect them to go numb long before my fingers.
Other then those two experiences, it was basically the same as the Greyhound ride, except less to see. We were constantly in the sunlight, and my side of the plane had the sun shining right in. So except for a few times early on when the shade was up (the ice around Alaska was cool) the cabin only had the overhead lights on for illumination.
As we came into Shanghai, we started getting some of the smog directly in the cabin. That was bad. Within 1 minute of smelling it my sinuses were clogged up. Not horribly, but enough to be annoying.
We got into Shanghai, I had slept enough that I was able to function, but I wasn't doing great.
We had been given a bunch of forms to fill out on the plane, and one of them, the customs questionnaire, mentioned bringing in foreign items.
Now I had a very old, sterilized moose tooth with me. It's just an odd little memento I have. I had kind of forgotten that countries don't like animal parts being brought in. So on the one form that mentioned that little detail, I listed it.
I didn't want to, but I figured it would be easier to have it right out in the open, then if they decided to search my bags, have them notice it and catch me in a lie.
I entered the terminal, handing over all the proper papers. But the customs paper was one of the last. Better yet, we grabbed our luggage, before we had to hand the paper over.
As I waited for my luggage, I saw the business man who told me I was crazy earlier in the Vancouver Airport. He was talking to some young business man about my age, who was apparently in China for the first time.
I sidled over, and was lucky enough to hear that if you walked through the "Nothing to Declare" area, and handed over your paper, they wouldn't bother checking you out. You could be through in 30 seconds.
So I grabbed another customs form, and filled that out, listing everything as "NO".
My bag took about 20 minutes to come out, so I had time to look around and make sure no one was being stopped and randomly checked.
Yes this might sound paranoid, but totalitarian country, mixed with my recent run of bad luck, made me a little cautious.
I grabbed my bag, and saw it was unopened. I had wrapped it up in packing tape and it had a cheap lock on it, so they couldn't really open it without leaving some signs.
Grabbing it I walked out through the "Nothing to Declare" area and looked for somewhere to sit.
Now I had heard that you can get a wireless connection almost anywhere in the major cities in China. I had also heard that internet cafes and kiosks were common as mud.
Mistake number 1 (Mistakes go back to 1, for each part. Otherwise I'll be up to Mistake number 100 before I'm halfway done).
I couldn't find a connection, and there were no handy dandy little internet kiosks lying around.
So I started wandering the airport looking for a wireless connection, or a little internet kiosk.
I also changed my 125 Canadian, into 670 Yuan.
Nothing. No kiosk, no signal, no friendly little signs.
This might not sound so bad. But I had been planning on going to a hostel in Shanghai. They're really cheap places, for people willing to share rooms, and sleep in dorms. There's less privacy then a hotel, no private tv and the beds are worse, but again they're cheap. And you actually get a lot more then a lot of hotels, but more on that later.
Now I should have made up a list of hostels, with the adresses, before I left. But I hadn't thought of that. If I had known when I was going to arrive in Shanghai, I might have even reserved one.
Mistake number 2.
I hadn't done any of these things.
Without the internet I couldn't find out where a hostel was. I had no idea where I could go, I was tired, and I had a very heavy bag.
Fortunately a man had come from behind a counter and asked if I needed a hotel. I had politely told him "Probably not" the first time. I went back to find him.
I told the man I wanted a cheap hotel, with internet access. He found me one for 450 Yuan. Not a lot in Canadian money, about $64. It sounded a little much, but it had free airport pickup, and it was for only one night. I took it.
Mistake number 3.
I should have bartered. I could have probably worked it down to 350 without too much effort.
I got to the hotel van, and headed downtown. Or so I thought, more on that later.
The hotel room wasn't bad, it had a bed, a tv, air conditioning, and bottles of water. Not even the poor drink directly from the tap.
And it even had internet connection
Mistake number 4.
The internet connection required a DSL cable. I had a very nice DSL cable, it came with the laptop. It was and probably still is sitting very nicely on my Dad's large computer desk, where I left it as I rushed to pack.
So without the internet, I decided I'd go to sleep and worry about it in the morning.
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