Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Long Flight And First Days

Our flight pattern was Tulsa, Oklahoma to Chicago.
Chicago to Shanghai.

It was about 20 hours total travel time, with the Chicago->Shanghai flight lasting 14 hours.

Our first flight left at 6:40 and so we had to arrive at the airport about 5 in the AM and thus awaken at 4 in the AM.

The parents cried and we sighed as we started the long day. Tulsa->Chicago went without a hitch. It was a short flight and easy to make. We had a two hour layover in Chicago and I bought a 4 dollar cinnamon roll while cursing at the airport and their strong wireless signal for which you had to pay way too much money to actually connect to.

Our seats on the plane were in the big middle aisle, with my wife on the inside and me in the aisle. Most seats were filled.

Usually on long trips I can pretty quickly enter into a semi-comatose zone. It is very difficult for me to fall asleep, but in this state I am not awake and aware enough to go crazy over the insanely long flight. This also makes completely asinine movies like “Next” mostly acceptable to watch.

Beyond the pointless, annoyingness of the movie selections, the way in which they showed them was obnoxious. Although American Airlines promised to “on demand” flicks, this plane was not fixed with it. On all other movie showing flights, the films run on a specific channel and show continuously. So like say “Next” will show on one channel on a constant loop, and “Waitress” would show on a continuous loop on another channel.

This works well as say one movie finishes and you can then turn the channel to another movie already in progress. As soon as that movie ends, you can then immediately watch the beginning parts that you missed.

On our flight, all movies and TV shows started at the same time each time. So when one movie ended, it would not start again until all other movies were finished. Thus in each round, you had to wait until the longest movie was finished. Very annoying.

We were treated on this flight by having at least 4 small children in the very near vicinity. One small boy directly behind me, never went ten minutes without kicking the back of my chair. Two other boys decided they would be play friends by playing cars and trucks in the aisle ways.

Two boys in the aisle wouldn’t be too bad, except I was trying to watch “This Film Is Not Yet Rated” on my iPod. That is a documentary on the American movie ratings board, and there are several moments in which they show various selections from movies that have had to be censored to receive an “R” rating. What they showed were the offensive parts. Let me tell you, it is an awkward moment when there are two small children at your side and a three minute collage of thrusting naked people on the screen.

One little boy in the row next to us, next to the window was the only person on board that enjoyed having his window shade up. Sometimes he would put it down for a little while, and I would try to rest. Then without warning, he would thrust it up, bringing with him this penetrating spotlight burst of sun.

Mostly thought, the flight was OK, I mean it was 14 hours, which is completely unbearable, and my knees ached like Moses, but it could have been much worse.

But we landed and then we met customs. There was a large crowd when we started in line. When we arrived it must have been shift change as several new people came and opened up new lines. We let the first one go, decided to stay in our line, but as we watched the others move quickly we jumped into the second newly formed line.


The first people in the line had not filled out any forms and so we had to wait on them to do so. We waited and waited and finally got to a customs officer – we were nearly alone by then as everyone else had gone through.

My sister and her husband picked us up and we all went with a driver from the school who took us to our new home.

My first impression of Shanghai is that there are a lot of people, and that it is hot. Darn hot. The hottest summer on record apparently.

It was now about 3 in the AM according to our time, but early afternoon in China so we decided to stay up. The sister took us to dinner with some of her American friends and we had a very pleasant time. We even had hamburgers, which was lovely.

We crashed at about 8:30 and wound up waking up this morning around 5:30.

Today we saw our new apartment (we are staying in a “motel” which is really just some apartments where the school allows new members to stay) and it was very nice. Much much bigger than the little pad we had in France. We also went around looking at our new furniture. The sister purchased us quite a bit of stuff from teachers who have gone back to the states. It is all in different apartments and as soon as we figure out how to move it we will move into our new duds.

The apartments are all inside a big SMIC (that’s the company the wife will work for) complex. There are around 40 apartment buildings all together and inside is a little playground and walking areas, all of which in fenced in and guarded.

We also went to the bank to exchange our US dollars to Chinese Yuan. The exchange rate is something like 1:7.4 in our favor so our $1,000 turned into more than 7,000 Chinese dollars! Although we then went to lunch and it cost us 98 Chinese dollars so I guess it all works out.

We are living in the Pudong area of Shanghai which is across the river, and relatively newly developed. All of which means it is not as enormous and encroaching as what I expected from a city of 18 million.

So far I really like it here, and I hope that it will only continue to get better.


Jamison said...

so far it sounds like the great start to a "clearing throat in an obvious manner" book.

The only difference is you are writting it on a blog instead of a word processing program. Editing and moving stuff around comes after it is all written out.

Hey, I am mere pages away from finishing the HP7 book so I will finally be able to participate! So far, it is a good book, but not the best of the 7 by a long shot. Kind of repeatative.

kellieja said...

Im glad you arrived safely. I am looking forward to your adventures. so are you going to learn Chinese?

mullinz8 said...

Very cool Brew! It sounds like the kids weren’t too bad I mean at least they didn’t scream for hours at a time. Also at least customs was your last stop in country. You didn’t have to check your stuff several times over various departure points.

Sounds like a smooth trip, movies aside and at least you had the iPod; things could have been very boring.