Phew! What a crazy few days! I just got adjusted to the time zone here in Seattle (actually, fairly quickly!) and can finally write this post without feeling dizzy.
My last day at Beijing was spent like this: We got up early to avoid lines to enter Gugong, the Forbidden City’s Palace. However, on preparing for the memorial of the Japanese invasion devastation during WWII, China closed all roads around the area. So, we got off the subway 1 stop earlier to do some last minute shopping at the famous Wangfujing Street. (Should have done our research beforehand) However, we later found out that every single store was closed until 2pm, so instead of waiting under the sun and surprisingly blue sky, we rode the subway partway back and walked to another mall for lunch.
On our fairly long walk back home, we decided to get our last Beijing old-styled ice cream.
But before we got home, we stopped at the local shopping center that had a huge supermarket. I found the portable tables that I really wanted in Tongren for two times the price (¥40)!! Of course, I could not get it so I was extremely bummed out. The table is perfect for studying when you don’t want to sit down right after a meal, especially during school nights.
On the floor above the grocery store, we bought clothes that were on sale for a very cheap price–actually, it was the first time in China that I had come across good quality, simple look, AND cheap price for fall clothes. There were free lockers that we can use so we took advantage of that before we went downstairs to shop for traditional deserts that will accompany us on our flight back.
That night, our aunt cooked us a meal consisting of two large crabs, some sweet-vinegar pork with bamboo shoots, an eggplant dish, and some lotus-root with carrots and cabbage soup. It was the last meal ever I’m China for this trip. We packed until it was time to sleep and uploaded 5200+ pictures from Aunt’s phone onto an USB stick. It did not finish uploading completely by the time we woke up around 4AM but we had to get to Beijing airport presto.
Due to too many luggages, Aunt called her boss’ (Aunt’s best friend since the beginning, The Boss) chauffeur to give us a hand, or drive. We were very thankful because otherwise, I fear that the tires of the car would have popped. While I was in the car looking at the light pink sky, I subconsciously wished I can keep something that would give me a lasting memory of China. Ironically, the top joint of my pointer-finger started hurting like something pierced it–you guessed it, a mosquito bite, on the most convenient place especially for towing luggage.
Anyways, after we gave our thanks for all my Aunt had done for us and exchanged hugs and farewell wishes, we parted with her. I hope I see my Aunt again very soon.
Despite successfully arriving at airport and boarding the plane for Shanghai, the rest of the day (and the next) was a nightmare. Originally, we had bought hoped to buy a one-way flight home but only after we printed the receipt did we find out we had to stop in Shanghai for a 2.5-hour layover. The last half of the 3 hour ride to Shanghai consisted of tumult and an uneven ride due to bad weather in Shanghai. A German man working for a company in Shanghai was sitting next to Sharon and when we heard that we had to stop at Nanjing Lukou airport instead, he showed us a picture of flooded streets in Shanghai snapped by his coworker. To compensate for the sudden change in plans, Delta (the airline we were flying with) gave each passenger a free meal at specific eatery. We had some muer, meat, sprite, and rice for lunch.
I wish I had more time to explore the city.
Boarded ride at 3:50PM and began flying at 4:25PM. Many passengers bought the high-speed train tickets to Shanghai so some seats were empty, including the one next to Sharon. On the plane, I watched American Dreams in China two thirds of the way because the flight was short. Obviously, we missed our flight to Seattle despite the planned 2.5 hr layover originally. In Shanghai, we had to wait in a line for transferring as long as 1.5 blocks, but after asking around some more, we went to 3rd floor Delta service desk to get our international tickets rearranged. The airline was down to an 7pm flight to LAX and a flight in the morning of the next day. A family of 3 was competing to get the seats, but with persistence, we did even though we knew the seats were all spread apart onboard.
We ended up snagging 4 of the 6 available business-class seats 15 minutes before the scheduled takeoff at 6:20pm. I was shocked because I never expected a chaotic misfortune of missing our flight home to have its luxurious perks! I think sometimes in life, when you least expect it during a stressful time, something wonderful will happen. A guide showed us an faster way to get to the gate and we quickly hopped onto the shuttle-car and rode to the bottom of the stairs to the airplane. It was a windy and rainy night in Shanghai and my last view of China was at the top of the stairs leading to the plane of the vast airport and the runways. My seat was actually right to the right of the entrance–10A. I felt so very sad to leave as the wheels of the plane lifted off from the ground.
Anyways, after we arrived at LAX, we had to hurry to catch our flight to Seattle in just an hour or so. But guess what happened again; we missed our flight due to the surprisingly long time it take for luggage to arrive and the distance we had to walk. We stayed up all night at the airport to wait for the next flight at 6AM, feeding on some moon cakes. At 4AM, we checked in and waited at our terminal gate. The gate number was also changed with us unawares until I asked the gate-desk at 6:05AM why we are not boarding yet. Again, we rushed from terminal 64 to 53 in a matter of 8 minutes and got there just in time as the last ones in line. However, there must have been some people also waiting at the wrong terminal because more people (out of breath as well) lined up behind us.
So, that is how we traveled to 5 cities unintentionally in 2 days.
I was so shocked that it could be that cold in Seattle. Long pants and jackets were existent already. We rode the Link Light rail and the Sound transit bus, as well as the “11-bus” (a grueling, on-foot walk the distance of .7 miles with little hills) until we got to our home sweet home. Leaves were already orange and felled and the weather already getting crispy. The garden plants were already withered. The defeaning silence and calmness of the neighborhood made me feel like I walked into a time machine in early July and that my trip to China was not existent… I will definitely be back to China soon. I love the ambiance and the noisy beeping of cars and chatter on the streets and watching the city from above and sleeping with the windows wide open and the people who made my trip the best experience ever.
My final post in a few days will be of all that I had learned, both of China itself and if myself, as well as my personal thoughts on the many things I have seen and experienced.