Tuesday, January 16, 2018

just passing through

I had jumped through so many hoops to be allowed to stay in China overnight without a visa. Now I had to jump through hoops to leave. 

How do you feel about virtual customs officials first thing in the morning? This video figment appeared, like something out of BladeRunner 2049 (but dressed), to warn us cheerfully about customs as we left China.
Guangzhou airport is full of warning signs.
Whatever you do, don't jump in the elevator.

The departure lounge did have this snazzy vending machine. I read 24h as 24th (Street) and felt momentarily at home. What kind of machine has instant ramen in it? And I was intrigued by a snack called giga bytes. Still, I didn't have the right currency, Chinese or otherwise, so I ate the junkfood the airline provided.
We flew for about an hour and then everyone was forced to disembark with all our carry-ons in Wuhan (Hubei province) and go through exit immigration. It had been steamy in Yangon and warm in Guangzhou, but it was close to freezing in Wuhan. The transit building is cavernous, with not much in it, and wifi I never got to work. Kind of the way I picture the afterlife, if I believed in the afterlife, which I don't.

They do have a Hello Kitty lounge, to welcome mothers with babies. I think that's Pooh bear with the goggles. Washrooms were a different story.
Why yes, that is an app projected onto the mirror above the bathroom sink. Confirming it's 0º Celsius outside. (Brr!)
The app changed quickly to an ad. You know, in Communist China.
This was the final ad, before I got completely freaked out by the two-way mirror. Who are these shouting chicken people?! 

Eventually, I found a cafe with noodle soup and 8 treasures tea (for cash only—I scraped into my emergency pouch and found a few dollars I'd hidden away a month earlier) and amused myself until it was time to board again.

Like most travelers, deep down, I love airports. Their poorly marked signs are job security for me. They are filled with people coming and going. Standing in line in Wuhan, I met a lovely Mexican family on their way back from Thailand. My seat mate for 15 hours was a teenaged exchange student, on her way to Atherton. 

That all seems so long ago. Now I'm back at home in Northern California, drinking pots of tea from Shan state and dreaming of the next adventure.