Sunday, April 22, 2012

What a Long Strange Trip It's Been - Part 2

 Note: If you haven't read part 1 of this post, please read that one first or this one won't make much sense.
As I am not (last time I looked) Chinese, sleep did not come to me in that hotel room on Friday night. I read for an hour or so, then turned off the lights. After about 10 minutes, I got up to answer a knock on the door – which was for a delivery of two bottles of water and two bowls of ramen noodles. I divvied up the loot and then crawled into bed, only to be disturbed once again by a phone call 10 minutes after the food – time to go. Now, astute readers may do the math here. I finished my blog post around 9:00ish, read for an hour and then was interrupted by two visits, ten minutes apart. Yes – that’s right – we were told to leave the hotel a little more than 2 hours after we arrived there (and less than 2 hours after our flight was originally scheduled to take off. This fact astounds me as I cannot fathom a U.S. airline doing the same). I guess when Frannie said we were getting a little rest, she really meant a little rest.

And so, as I was shuttled along in a van driven by a man possessed by the need to pick up his next round of hourly hotel guests as soon as possible, stuffed in that van with a bunch of fellow passengers like Chinese preschoolers in a school bus, with the rain dripping onto my face through the open window, I must have looked totally crazy, because I could not stop laughing. As we hurtled along some random back roads at crazy speeds, it was entirely possible that this man was taking us to steal our kidneys for all I knew. But really – as I thought about so many other friends and family members that are dealing with illnesses, issues and decisions that literally are life or death, I knew this was peanuts compared to that. I realized that this is what I signed up for. I didn’t sign up for an easy trip to a country where I could speak the language. No – I signed up for China, and China was what I got on Friday night.

On my drive to and from the hotel, I got to spy the real Guangzhou – people out shopping at a market and eating at open air restaurants on a beautiful Friday night. While waiting to board the plane after the trip to the hotel, I got to talk to a group of about 10 Palestinian men who were visiting Guangzhou for a trade fair. On my plane ride home, I got to discuss Chinese politics with the man sitting next to me, a professor of finance at a local prestigious university who survived the Cultural Revolution. While I might have preferred to sleep between the hours of midnight and 2:00 a.m., he taught me a lot about the history of Chinese provincial politics. And though I crawled into bed at 3:00 am, I still managed to get 6 hours of sleep before seeing Berkley recite his speech at his school’s Earth Day fair.

I realize that in reading the first post about this adventure, it might have seemed like I was upset or stressed. But once I found Frannie (who was so kind as to look out for me until we got to the gate), I knew everything was going to be okay, so this was all actually pretty amusing. When I called Doug from the hotel room to tell him I had arrived and there was no bathroom door, I was laughing hysterically. I mean – I knew this wouldn’t kill me, and I knew it was a going to be a story to remember, so all I could do was strap in and enjoy the ride. Compared to so many others, my life is so incredibly blessed and easy, and when life hands me lemons like this, well, you can be pretty sure that I’m going to make some lemonade (and probably a blog post or two), smiling almost the whole time.


  1. You deserve a few medals. I dont know if I could have handled it as well. Kudos for you.
    Love and Hugs - Mom

    1. As Aeon Flux used to say, "That which does not kill us makes us stranger."