Monday, May 3, 2010

Arriving at Shainghai

May 2, 2010 journal transcription: Arrived in Shanghai around 2pm (2am Michigan time). Customs/Quarantine was a breeze compared to the United States. I sent my larger bags through a scanner and that was it. I must have looked lost...or American...because a man about my age wearing a red suit approached me and said he was something something about being a volunteer and asked if I needed something. I forget his statement verbatim due to the wave of confusion that washed over gently, but still making my mind race. he pointed to my right to direct me to an "information" desk. A young woman directed me up the escalators when I mumbled needing to catch a domestic flight to Beijing. At the top was a large screen with flight information. I proceeded to the desk under the massive directory, as I did not have a clue what to do and did not see my flight time. The woman asked me some questions, as I was a blubbering idiot who is used to approached the first dest at the airport and obtaining all of my tickets there. American Airlines did not give me my last ticket as I had expected.
No, I did not know my flight number.
No, I did not have my printout information.
No, I did not know the exact time of departure, other than "6-something."
I had wrongly assumed that AA would have given me all 3 tickets instead of the 2 I had just used.

Thankfully, I DID know the destination...great! huh...?! Letter K. I approached yet another desk. He was young but would have lost any type of smiling contest. He seemed irritated at me or his job, or the fact that they were interwoven.

>Interjection: Police. All black. vests. caps. large weapons. Women come in one size so far- thin with slight variation in height. Airport population is varied but good amount of Asians-naturally. End.

I then thought I had to wait for these 2 women to put these straps on my bags (after searching?). After realizing that I was standing and waiting for not reason, I walked to the short line to finally? get a ticket. No- I still know nothing about my flight other than I am trying to go to Beijing around 6 something. The first man pawned me to the 2nd man, who looked like he was about to go on break. He finally told me to come back after 4 to catch the next plane and that I was too early. I was just relieved that he had found me after I was panic stricken that they could not find me. I took back my passport and went to another dest to inquire abut the nearest currency exchange.

My daypack was convenient and would not travel any other way. I only wished that I did not have a second handbag that I ended up needing to fit a few extra things in. I exchanged 60 US dollars and received 350 yuan. There was a slight confusion at first because I did not understand why he wanted 7% commission but read the sign and consented. The exchange rate is 1 dollar: 6.7ish yuan.
I people watched for about 2 hours. I tried not to stare but I am a very curious and observant person. There was a woman cleaning the bathroom who also stared at me (it began the trend for the rest of this trip so far). It was 82 degrees F so I changed into a men's tank that I had bought in 3 packs at Meijer because I plan to throw them away if I need to make room. The sweat stains in my long sleeve (green) shirt were huge.*

*I had to sprint to my connection flight in Chicago- the transfer from Detroit to Shanghai. I was in the bathroom after I had just debarked the first plane when I heard the final call for my flight. Obama gave the commencement speech to UofM's graduating class on Saturday and landed about the time we were taxing in Detroit and all airspace for 15 miles was shut down for about 20 minutes. (I was sitting next to a pilot going to work so he gave me the 411 on a few things, including tips to make my next flight). I was slightly out of breath when handing my ticket to the blonde stewardess who just smiled at me understandingly.

As I was writing my journal, there was a large group of older Chinese men and women with caps, but I cannot understand the writing on them. I am feeling more and more illiterate as the moments pass here.I cannot imagine how bad I'll be once I leave the "foreign-friendly" airport.

Well, 4:15 pm...heading to check in.

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