I kept a journal while on my amazing three-week sojourn through Shanghai and the Guangxi province in April of this year. I will share the daily adventures and pictures from that journey on my blog during this holiday season.
We saw monkeys and mountain temples. We ate jeweled vegetables and drank homemade rice wine. From the modern excess of Shanghai to the farmers working fields with ponies and water buffalo, China is a country of stark contrast.
I went with two tall Germans. One was Chris, my husband of nearly 9 years. And the other was Frank, Chris’ close friend since his school days. Frank has been to China many times and his brother-in-law also occasionally operates tours for Germans throughout China, so he did have some very important background knowledge for us to draw upon.
Chris and I were interested in China, but it wasn’t on the immediate travel radar until Frank suggested we go with him. Seeing a country with someone in the know is always the best choice, almost regardless of destination. Thanks to Frank, it was an awesome trip we’ll never forget.
Introducing our travelers
My husband still works for an airline, the same one that I also worked at until this March when my job was eliminated. As an airline employee, the major perk is discounted or even free travel on your own company and many others. Thus, we are out to see as much of the world as we can! The catch is that we fly standby, or “non-rev.” This is short for non-revenue flying. And without a guaranteed seat, getting there is half the adventure.
Thursday, April 11, 2013 – Friday, April 12 (due to time change)
On the flight from PDX to LAX:
Thank goodness all the non-revving has turned out okay so far! Already had the first “mishap” flying from PDX to LAX. Chris got to the airport and realized he didn’t have his company ID badge. He said, “Oh, don’t worry about it. They never check it.” I insisted that China was NOT the place to chance not having all forms of proper identification. What if we tried to change our standby plans and were denied boarding for lack of an official company badge?
I went alone on the flight while he went home to get the stupid badge. He was lucky enough to be able to catch the next flight. He still got to LAX in plenty of time to catch the United flight to Shanghai.
On the flight from LAX to Shanghai:
3 hours down, 11 more to go. It’s cold as a tomb. I can’t complain. We got on, no waiting or rushing on the plane at the very last second. Soon we will be landing in a place completely different from anything I’ve experienced thus far. My first trip to Asia!
I’ve been content to roll along. I didn’t do a lot of research. Didn’t try to learn a little Mandarin like Chris. Funnily enough, you wouldn’t think I needed a break. I’ve been unemployed for six weeks. I spent those weeks finishing my screenplay. I am tired of it now and I don’t ever want to read it again. My goal was to do the very best I could and then enter the major half-dozen contests. Now here I am, flying halfway across the world, and all I can do it wait to hear back.
We will arrive Friday afternoon and Frank will catch up with us on Sunday morning.
We made it to the Shanghai City Center International Youth Hostel. It took about 75 minutes on the high-speed train (300 kilometers an hour!), then almost 2 more hours on 2 subway lines, all full. It was the rush hour in Shanghai, after all. Quite an experience. I’d say a taxi would do just fine next time.
We waited an hour for a bland pizza here in the hostel bar. We’re vegan, but we’re too tired to find food on the street outside. Besides, tofu could come in seahorse broth for all we know. A vegetarian cheese pizza is at least a familiar dish. We are also both horribly lactose-intolerant, so we took three enzyme pills each and crossed our fingers.
The place here is nice overall. For about 30 USD a night, it’s fine.
We’re attempting to stay awake a little longer. Oh, I am not sure about that resolution.