China Travel Logs: Arrival

Photo Credit: Iphone 6 camera

Photo Credit: Iphone 6 Camera [ ]

I looked through the portal window out into a vast nothingness; black sky with feathery bits of grey cloud passed by while I watched the reflection of the passenger next to me.  She continues to pick at her cuticles, peeling back the skin meticulously, thinking, I assumed, about her decision to study international business in Shanghai.  I fed of her nerves ping-ponging about us, familiar with the internal scatter the happens inside the brain when one questions one’s own motives and decision making capability, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I should be nervous too.  The last trip of this magnitude was Africa where I traveled with a local staying with her family and got treated as such.  In China, we were going to be full-fledged tourists with only an itinerary, concierge and my nephew’s Mandarin to guide us.  I shut the window decidedly cutting off all other thought streams, remembering my task was a simple one: show up happy and go with the flow. 

We arrived in Shanghai midday, got through customs with relative ease and managed to flag down a taxi flashing a picture of our hotel destination in way of direction.  In the back seat, squeezed between my sister and niece, I watched as the driver pulled out of the airport and then into a lot less than 100 yards away.  “Oh my God, he’s filling up his tank. Has a cab ever stopped to get gas before?” my sister asked, perplexed.  “Welcome to China.” I replied, shaking my head no.  I waved to the other taxi with the rest of our family in it, wondering where we’d end up in proximity to each other.  But it didn’t take long before we were back on the road with the driver taking command of the steering wheel with abrupt jerks, weaving us through traffic in a crazed, bunny rabbit pattern.  My body swung like a pendulum as I inhaled stale air blowing in from the driver’s cracked window, the first residual taste of the hazy film that covered the streets.  The driver surprised us by clearing his throat with a violent thrust of air that furrowed and sounded loud in the passageways before outwardly releasing.  I now refer to this sound as – The Clearing Throat Noise – something accepted and commonly used, not to be seen as rude.  I closed my eyes as we ducked behind another truck now taking notice of the symphony of car horns blasting off around me: three insistent toots, followed by one long beep, accompanied by two hollow sounding horns.  “What the hell are they beeping at?” I asked offended by this noise pollution.  This time my sister shook her head, “Welcome to China.”


Getting Initiated,

A Warrior Princess


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