Saturday, August 27, 2005

Lying in Bed

The flight to Narita was so long – over eleven hours. I watched two movies, slept, and ate. That’s all there really is to do on an airplane anyway. When we arrived at Narita, it took forever to get people off the plane. I realized that time was ticking away for me to get through the next round of security and get to my gate. I still didn’t know my gate number, either.

I walked as fast as I could to the gate listings, and I saw that my flight was boarding. I tried to make a mad dash for my gate. As usual, though, people in Narita airport were either walking to the tune of a slow death march, or completely stopped in the middle of a throughway. I finally made it to the escalator, where people were not walking, but rather standing on both sides, making it completely impossible to bypass them. There was a uniformed man at the bottom of the escalator barking gate numbers to people.

He looked at me and yelled, “Shanghai?”

“No,” I said, “Beijing.”

“Beijing is already boarding. You need to get over there! Gate 22.”

As I already knew my gate number and didn’t like Narita airport much anyway, I was a little irritated by the man taking up more of my time. I decided to stop walking on the people transporter in the middle of the airport. Unlike in the U.S., where people walk on the belt to get to their destinations more quickly, people in Narita stood in both lanes and made walls with their luggage. I really don’t like that airport.

By the time I got to my gate, my flight was down to boarding all passengers, so I got in line right away. I’m so glad I didn’t miss my flight. I kept muttering to myself on the way there, “I am not getting stranded in Japan. I am not getting stranded in Japan…”
The flight to China was uneventful. I was basically asleep the entire time. Toward the end, it looked like we would be in Beijing about 40 minutes early. However, that prediction was quickly discarded when we were all notified that a typhoon was keeping us from landing, and that we would be circling for a while.

When we landed, all the power went out in the plane. The generators came on, and then died after 3 minutes. I guess we must have landed at a good time.

I got through customs and baggage claim just fine. It took a long time, but I expected that. Yang Jun, Ning’s brother, picked me up and took me to the New Century Hotel. He spoke really fast and with a fairly think Beijing accent; so, given how tired I was, I had a few communication issues. At the hotel, there was some issue with the concierge not liking my visa listing the number of days for my stay as 000. I had a feeling that would come up somewhere. I explained that it was s student visa, but I don’t think she listened. Yang Jun handed her a cell phone, and then after a few minutes everything was okay.

I called my mom after Yang Jun left. I had to dial direct, so I think settling charges in the morning is going to suck. I really hope something doesn’t get screwed up where I have to pay the room bill. It’s 500RMB for one night. Actually, I guess that’s only about 62.50USD, but still. I called Andrew, also, to let him know I was okay.

During both of these calls, I had call waiting beeps come through. I couldn’t imagine who would be calling me. First, either a concierge or the driver for tomorrow called. I still don’t know which. Then Yang Hua called to see how things were going. She said something about making sure the driver’s time for coming in the morning was right, too. I figured the two calls were affiliated. I certainly hope they were. I then got a third call, again from the concierge, asking me if I wanted a wake-up call. I now have four alarms to get me up tomorrow. I think I should make it.


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