Monday, March 28, 2016

China/Korea 2009: day 0 (Houston to Seoul to Shanghai)

Here's my map for 3 days in Shanghai: blue for day 1, red for day 2, and yellow for day 3.Mostly written as sentence fragments in a Notes file on my iPod Touch, not so narrative yet.

Got up at 4:45 for the taxi ride to the airport. Got there at 6, plane to ATL left at 7. Food court lunch, nice that the international terminal has free wifi. Why was it free there and not elsewhere? Checked in at the KE counter, turns out that my aisle seat that the company booked for me on Delta (code-share with Korean) wasn't valid, so they stuck me in a middle seat for the 14-hour flight which left at 1. They ran out of Coke 2 hrs into the flight, then Sprite 10 hrs into it, only Diet Coke left. The girl at the window seat on my left slept the whole time and didn't use her armrest, the guy on my right was doing his thing and didn't use his either, so I got both armrests for the whole flight. Only a bit awkward when meals served, I had to tuck in my elbows. Food not bad, had the beef (vs some Korean dish) for the first meal and then the pseudo-lasagna (vs chicken) for the second. Since traveling west, we stayed in the sun all day, no sunset until after I landed in Seoul. All the windows on the plane were shuttered, so I didn't get to see any of the landscape through Canada, Alaska, the Arctic, Russia, Vladivostok, Japan, and into Korea. The international terminal in ICN rocks – in addition to all the duty free shopping, they've got lounges, free wifi, free showers, a transit hotel, free push carts, comfy lounge chairs, etc. Ate dinner at the food court, had a Korean spicy pork and rice dish with a Coke. Exchange rate is about 1150 KRW to the dollar, so I have to get my iPod calculator to figure out how much stuff is. I slept a couple hours on the plane so I'm tired, I think that I'll sleep well tonight in Shanghai and I might even be good tomorrow. Flight to PVG gets in around 9pm, and with getting my luggage, clearing customs, and getting to the hotel, it could be midnight. A noticeable number of people wearing masks to avoid the flu.

Uneventful flight on Asiana from Seoul to Shanghai, some chicken thing for dinner. Left 20 min late, got in 5 min late. People don't understand the concept of "stand on the right, walk on the left" on the moving walkways. Got my bag (it went through!), went through flu screening and customs, changed some money, bought a bottle of water from Burger King, and got help from the information desk on how to get to my hotel (take the #5 airport bus to People's Park, then take a taxi to the hotel) and wrote it all in Chinese so I can show the drivers. I probably got shafted on the exchange rate with commission, my $100 came out to 626 RMB; I should be getting closer to 7 for the dollar, but I needed the cash to pay the taxi and bus, and I didn't see the ATMs until afterwards. The airport and the bus don't seem to be big on air conditioning. The bus was 20 RMB, and the cab was 17 RMB (don't have to tip). Couldn't take the maglev, it stopped running a couple hours before I got there. Fortunately an English-speaking lady on the bus noticed that we were at my stop. I hadn't even made it in the door to the hotel before a pimp asked me if I wanted a lady, and I wasn't in the room for more than an hour before I got the "do you need a massage?" phone call.

Plugged in my computer with an adapter, plugged in the iPod and cell phone to recharge. The room is amazing, looks gorgeous. Can't figure out why the internet isn't working, it's just a LAN cable to plug in (or maybe it's not free? No wifi, in any case. I'll check it out later. Room comes with 2 bottles of water (don't drink from the tap!), I'll bring the unopened one with me tomorrow. The bed is relatively hard, which is unfortunately how the Chinese like them. Give me a plush pillowtop mattress any day! Finally went to bed at 2am, which is just like back home, except 2am here is noon there. I think I slept for 2 hrs on the plane, and 3:15 the night before, so maybe 6 hrs of sleep in the last 50 or so I expect to be over my jet lag tomorrow

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