Due to a cruel obsession with torture, stress, and unnecessary complexity, Emily and Dan have decided to suffer through the bitter cold of North western China and the pain of cycling through southeast Asia before returning home and trying to rebuild a life in recession-plagued USA.
Thursday, January 6, 2011
SHANGHAI to URUMQI - The Epic Adventure Begins
Dec 31, 2011 Eng: Shanghai, China to Urumqi, Xinjiang, China Chn:上海，中国到乌鲁木齐，新疆省，中国 Written by Em
Dan and I fly to Urumuqi on the same day, Dan from Shenzhen and me from Shanghai. My flight took off at 8 am, meaning I had to get to the airport by 7. I didn't realize until I got to the airport that I was flying Spring Airlines, known for its great discounts, but crazy service. I didn't think it could be that bad, since the cost of their ticket was about half that of all the other airlines. Checking-in was pandemonium. Everyone was pushing and shoving their way to the counter. There were people in line who weren't even flying out until 1 or 2 in the afternoon, so people who had morning flights were desperately trying to convince them to let the others go ahead. Have you ever tried bargaining with a Chinese person? I made it through security just in time to get on my flight.
After another round of shoving, this time to get up the stairs to the aircraft, I looked around and noticed that everyone had giant bags of snacks. It was a long 6 hour flight, but I thought it was a bit excessive and only carried a bottle of water. We started to take-off and then stopped. This happened about 3 more times until they announced our flight would be delayed an hour. No worries, I'll just go to sleep. I tried to push my seat back, but there was no button. The man across from me was trying to do the same and we look at each other, confused. He asked the stewardess who said, "Oh, no, our seats don't go back." Great.
I finally managed to fall asleep and woke after an hour or so. I looked at the guy next to me who was smiling, staring at the back of the seat in front of him. I was getting a bit hungry and looked down the aisle to see if the stewardesses were getting ready to serve some lunch. The cart was almost at our row, my mouth watering, and then she just passed us! I noticed she wasn't stopping at any of the rows. Again, the guy across from me called her over and asked when they would be serving food or drinks. "Oh, no, we don't have food or drinks. But you can buy some of our snacks." WHAT?!? I looked at the snack selection only to find vacuum sealed chicken feet, duck tongues and spicy tea eggs. I passed, begrudgingly. I decided to focus on sleeping the rest of the way, until the Spring Airlines Price is Right show started.
That's right, to make up for the lack of meals, they were going to offer us a once in a lifetime shopping opportunity. Items included a talking watch (only rmb30), a beach towel (rmb100), chocolates in a Shanghai tin (rmb10), an electric shaver, water bottle and diet pills. Believe it or not, people were actually buying these things. And lots of them! So for the next hour, the call buttons were going off all over the plane, asking to view items up close, buy things and order more snacks. They actually sold out of every item. Never in my life have I experienced this on a plane.
With the show over, I was determined to sleep. 5 minutes after closing my eyes I feel someone nudge me. I look over at the guy next to meet, thinking he has to go to the bathroom and he's just smiling. He asks me, in Chinese, "So, going on holiday to Xinjiang?" Shocked that he would wake me for this, I answer in the affirmative, to which he then goes on a 10 minute explanation about his quest to see the infamous "hot wood" while munching from his plastic bag of boiled potatoes. I have no idea what this 'hot wood' is, but secretly want to steal some of his potatoes.
I glanced over at the guy in the window seat after hearing clicking sounds. He had a counter in hand and was clicking every 10 seconds. While doing this, he was also pouring uncooked oatmeal back and forth between air sickness bags. I have no idea why and didn't dare to ask. I prayed for sleep to come.
7 hours later, I landed in Xinjiang and all I wanted was a giant bowl of noodles. I met Dan at the luggage carousel, bright eyed and smiling. He gave me a big hug to which I replied, "I'm hungry." He was surprised, since all they did was feed him on the plane. Bastard.