Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I'm back...

...but I'd rather not be.

Maybe it's the way I left things at home, or maybe it's that I don't have anything to do here, but if I'm going to be doing nothing I'd rather be doing nothing in the States. At least there, I've got American television and my car. Here, I've got Olympics excitement practically slapping me across the face and Chinese traffic deterring me from wanting to really go anywhere.

The trip over wasn't so bad; the check-in guy was the same one who'd checked me in back in January, so we struck up a conversation and next thing I know he's handing me a new ticket at the gate and tells me, "I upgraded your ticket"- first class to Chicago! Then on the flight to Shanghai I found he'd placed me in the very first row in economy- plenty of leg room and a tv screen right in front of my face, with none of the responsibility of sitting in an exit row. I've never had a better 22 hours traveling. Certainly beats the 22 hours I spent on that bus to Taiyuan.
(However the taxi driver at the airport was upset with me; he said the drivers there wait five, six hours for a customer and I should've told him where I was going before he started driving cause he wouldn't make enough going to my destination. And my trip from the airport cost almost 100 kuai!)

So for this next month: originally the plans were a week each in Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai before going to Dalian. Now one by one all my plans are going to crap. Beijing's been scrapped (don't want to deal with that madness anyway) which leaves me with two weeks open in Shanghai, post-Shenzhen. However, I've been on travel sites for the last two hours trying to plan the latter trip and still have no true inkling when I'm leaving or coming back.

This is because my two aunts and cousin are leaving for the States on Sunday, and while I'm extremely happy for them that their visas were approved, I'm expected to stay at the Wu Yuan Road apartment until they arrive to say my goodbyes. I planned on leaving Friday evening for Shenzhen, but upon my arrival this morning at WYR I'm told no one's arriving til Saturday at the earliest. Mum says I can go ahead and leave Fri but please. I was raised with some sense of Chinese manners- I'd lose FACE for putting travel ahead of family. Good ol' face, the cornerstone it seems of all Chinese relationships.

Anyway so now I'm slightly peeved but mostly bored. What do I do for the next three days?? Again, if I'm going to be bored I'd rather be bored at my other aunt's place, with my own room, air con, WiFi and an ayi. Here, I feel guilty for asking them to put on the air con, am treated like I'm 12, practically force-fed every meal, and my laptop becomes nothing more than a glorified personal DVD player. At least I don't need the air con right now because of all the thunderstorms- the weather's actually quite windy and pleasant, an unusual statement for the end of July in Shanghai.

I should probably go out somewhere, but I've done all the sightseeing, minus some less popular sights like Sun Yat Sen's residence and the Shanghai Library. Besides, right now there are so many foreigners bustling about for the Olympics out there I'd rather take a nap. All the business of trying to figure out exact flight dates and times for the Shenzhen trip have worn me out, as well as the bleak prospects for the next three days. Those who know me know my biggest pet peeve is time-wasting*, yet it seems that's all I'm going to be doing....

*Those who know me would also argue I do a lot of time wasting. The distinction here is that I despise Unnecessary time wasting; time that is wasted because plans are up in the air, not time that is wasted because I don't feel like doing anything.

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