Recap on Shanghai

I flew back in at around 1:00 AM, just after New Year’s. We were supposed to come in around 8:00 PM earlier that night, but a luggage mis-arrangement and snowstorm later, we were still on a plane as the year turned. At least we had a good view of the whole city’s firework.

The flights to China are always interesting. After a 2 1/2 hour jump to Chicago, it’s at least another 11 hours. My strategy is sleep: I don’t sleep the night before, then set my watch to the destination time zone and sleep appropriately on the plane. It’s a jump on jet lag.

Sleeping on a plane is itself something of a challenge. In the air, I never feel quite right. A minor stomachache, not helped by the unpalatable food, makes me slightly uncomfortable. And the butt fatigue from sitting too long builds as the flight goes on. Fortunately, I don’t need to sleep to reduce tiredness. I need to be unconscious.

The waking hours, however, aren’t always bad. I’ve learned strangers can be both nice and interesting when you prompt them. Flying to Shanghai, I met a grad student at Mizzou studying textile management. I found him fascinating, as he was a Chinese guy raised in China and now exposed to western culture. He found the opposite in me, a Chinese kid raised in western culture, but with a nagging ethnicity and only recent look seriously into it. How ironic that perhaps the best perspective I got on China was soaring miles high over the Pacific Ocean.

What I found most interesting was how uninvolved he seemed with China’s political situation, especially having been to the U.S. Nowadays, any discussion of modern-day China brings up the communism that westerners seem to disapprove of and ridicule. I found it ridiculous that I couldn’t access Wikipedia in China behind the “Great Firewall of China.” I couldn’t even read my own blog, or anything in the domain .blogspot.com (though I could reach blogger.com to write).

I guess it’s just what we know, what we’re raised with. I found it quite annoying that the water I drank or even brushed my teeth with had to be boiled first. Cold water at a restaurant was risky. Water machines, not water fountains in public places. Boy am I glad to be home.

One thought on “Recap on Shanghai”

  1. You’re definitely a second/third generation kid of immigrants. In my childhood, we always used to drink boiled water, which was left in a pitcher to cool. Drinking cold water from the tap is something definitely new world.

    In hospitals in Toronto, the nurses know to always offer Chinese people warm water when they take pills. In Chinese medicine, drinking cold water is considered a shock to the system.

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