Tuesday 29 November 2011

My last day in China. The rain has returned and so has the hot water for a shower. I didn’t sleep well last night – I woke up a few times and am ready to leave this hard bed behind. I woke up and am ready to go, so I’m just sitting and waiting for the dining hall to open. Outside the window the leaves are falling from the gingko trees.

7:00 AM – I have breakfast in the dining hall with Miki and Katy and use up what’s left on my cafeteria card by buying them breakfast, after which they both go to class and I go back to my room to read and wait. When I go to the office to return my cafeteria card they have me wait while they make a certificate for me, which I am not expecting. They want a photo of me but I don’t have any so they make a photocopy of the one in my passport. Then it’s back to my room to read and wait. A bit later Wang Gongyi comes to my room to chat and say goodbye.

9:00 AM – I’m tired of waiting in my room so I decide to go to the train station early. Shifu (the newer one) insists on carrying my heavy suitcase down the three flights of stairs for me. I take a taxi ($2.05) to the station and spend the next hour in the waiting room, which is much more interesting than my dorm room. It is a grey, misty morning on my way to the train station, which fits my mood.

1:00 PM – I take the train from Hangzhou to Shanghai Hongqiao station ($12.37) and, since I have a bit of an upset stomach after breakfast, I decide to skip lunch. I take the subway ($1.26) from the Shanghai train station to Pudong airport. The subway ride takes 1.5 hours and thirty stops on a hard plastic bench with my suitcase between my knees and other carry-on items in my lap. About five stops from the airport we have to transfer to another train across the platform so I lose my seat and it is standing-room only the rest of the way to the airport.

4:00 PM – in line for Air Canada check-in.

4:30 PM – next in line for the check-in window. There is no line for first class passengers.

5:36 PM – I exchange what Chinese currency I have left; 210 RMB becomes $25, minus a charge of $7.93 for the conversion. I go through customs and to the boarding gate for another four hour wait. It was dark when I arrived in China and it is now dark as I wait to leave; leaving China behind in the darkness.

6:15 – Our departure is delayed until 9:30 (for first class too). But, in consolation, I am given a food coupon for [70 RMB] so I go to the Ajisen Ramen restaurant upstairs for a set meal:

  • Coke with slice of lemon
  • 4 pieces of pork dumplings (crescent shaped)
  • small bowl of bamboo shoots in soy?
  • big bowl of “spicy” noodles. The noodles are spicy – my first bite I get into a coughing fit but I’m okay after that.

Our boarding time has now been changed to 10:00 PM and the gate has also changed so I walk to the new gate.

11:00 PM – Our plane finally leaves Shanghai and we arrive in Canada eleven hours later. I have to pass through multiple check-points in the Canadian airport and then wait two more hours for my final flight back to Portland. There is free wifi in the airport so I use it to email home.

6:04 PM – I eat at the Euro Cafe in the Vancouver Airport ($11.86):

  • strawberry banana Odwalla drink ($5)
  • blueberry scone
  • cranberry orange muffin

8:30 PM – We depart Vancouver for the one hour flight to Portland.

9:30 PM – My son is waiting for me at the airport to take me home.