Thursday, February 28, 2008

First Blog from China (via DC)

As soon as I boarded my Cathay Pacific flight from Perth to China I suspected that something was suspicious. My first clue was that my flight attendant's name was "Cathy." Cathay Pacific Cathy? Red flags went up in my head. The second sign that things were a tad fishy was that my connecting flight was from the same exact gate that I connected to Australia from a month ago. Now keep in mind, this isn't Burbank airport. There are over a hundred gates at the Hong Kong airport and I happen to have the same one twice? It might not seem so strange if the connecting flight was on Cathay Pacific but it was on China Southern who has nothing to do with Cathay Pacific (I asked as I tried to get more Asia Miles...I've already earned a free one way flight within 600 kilometers!!!). Finally, the third and final signal that China is a different and mysterious place--my blog won't work. That's right, blogspot is a banned site here. So how am I emailing?...It's magic. Actually, it's my little sister. She didn't volunteer for this very important fill-in position but has been anointed by me.

For just three dollars I was able to use public transportation from the Guangzhou Airport to my hotel. Immediately upon boarding my bus I felt like Rosa Parks. Everyone on the bus was Asian except me...and they immediately guided me to the back of the bus. Ironically after about fifteen minutes the guy sitting next to me asked me for directions. Yes, me. The one white person on the bus. He had just taken his first flight ever to start a new job in Guangzhou. I think he was more nervous than me being in this strange and gigantic city. From what I could gather from his pretty decent broken English, the guy [name sounds like Jon-sha] is in the air-conditioning business. He's also officially in the business of being my first Chinese friend.

After checking into my hotel, trying on paper slippers and laying down on the rock hard bed I decided to get my first taste of Chinese food in China. What I ate, I have no idea. My stomach has been making strange noises, even for me. One thing was a mushroom dish covered in gravy, another was a pile of bones which I think had chicken on them (bird flu isn't here anymore, right?) and lastly something that I thought was a pork bun but had a jam in it. I give the meal a B-. If I wake up in the middle of the night puking I'll lower the grade to a C+.

My friend Mark Morgan from LA showed up about an hour ago and is washing his undies in the shower at the moment. In LA I often borrow Mark's paddle tennis racket. The last time I borrowed it he mentioned that he was going to Bangkok to ride his bike from Thailand through Laos and Cambodia. His stories are incredible and range from having fire ants in his crotch to riding along minefields ("but it's cool they only go off during the wet season"). Anyway, Mark mentioned to me back in LA that the World Championships of Table Tennis were going to be in China while we were in this hemisphere. Immediately I said I was in and booked us a hotel and found us tickets online (took me approximately four hours to navigate the Chinese website. I won't be totally sure I have the tickets until I pick them up at the box office tomorrow.

Well, Mark just got out of the shower and we're going to find some classy restaurant. Hopefully it'll be a place with pictures on the menu. More updates soon. Thanks Hannah for typing this up for me!

(Editors Note: Now that I have Ben's blog password, perhaps Ahoy Hanoi fans will get some embarrassing childhood photos. Mom, start digging. -Hannah)