In Chinese “I don’t understand” is “wo bu ming bai” (. It literally means “I not bright white”. Truer words never spoken!
Yesterday I arrived at my son’s school gate. The journey to that gate was long, and tiring.
Let’s see if I can figure it out:
1) I arose in Seattle Tuesday morning at about 6 a.m. (In China it was Tuesday evening at 9 p.m.); I ran errands and shoved even more things into my already bumping up against the weight limit luggage (the bag I checked weighed 49 lb with a limit of 50 lb, the weight limit on my backpack is what I can lift into and overhead bin and I was right up against that limit as well (about 30 lb)).
2) Picked up at 1:30 p.m. And arrived at the airport at 2 p.m. PDT, 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. Wednesday China time. The flight left at 5:00 p.m PDT (8:00 a.m. China time). It arrived at 7:30 p.m. China time (4:30 a.m. PDT). I accrued about an hour of sleep on the flight.
3) The line at the Chinese passport check point was pretty short but there was only one guy working it and someone five people ahead had some type of complication, so the wait was disproportional with the line length (this is one of the on-going themes of my life)
4) Airport hotel shuttle bus was waiting, got checked into a wonderful place, took a hot bath and I was in bed, relaxed and comfortable by 10:30 p.m. China time (7:30 a.m. PDT). But I wasn’t real drowsy I remember seeming 11:30 on my watch. I know I slept some but was awake and not drowsy by 4:30 a.m. Beijing time (1:30 p.m. PDT). I was relaxed and comfortable so let’s give it the whole 5 hours.
Quick summary we are at a sleep total of 6 hours and a elapsed time of 28.5 hours.
5) Delicious/leisurely breakfast at 6:30 followed by somewhat less leisurely tooth-brushing, restowing and race to get a shuttle to the airport to get a shuttle to the train station. That went surprisingly well, I got my ticket and got to the boarding location at the same time the bus did. Big Bertha got to ride below but I had the backpack with me and the bus was full, so I had it in my lap. I had to get off the bus last so I had room to put the pack on since I can’t carry that much load unbalanced.
6) Two security checkpoints (lines with x-ray machines for luggage and metal detectors for folks) and two ticket lines later (I waited in the wrong line for a while) and I had a ticket to ride and was ready to heed natures call. About 10:30 a.m. China time (7:30 p.m. PDT).
7) The longest 5 minutes was heeding natures call. All’s well that ends well and the more so when the ending well part was in question: squatty-potty, 30 lb or so backpack…Nothing snapped (like a knee) and I didn’t have to push up from the floor to re-erect myself. So now its about 10:40 a.m. and my train is scheduled to leave at 12:50 p.m.
8) The train was delayed. There was a seriously crowded melee and confusion (mostly mine). But I got to Weifang about 4:40 p.m. Beijing time (1:40 a.m. Seattle time).
9) With backpack on and Big Bertha in tow I got a taxi and handed the driver my carefully printed out address sheet. He let me off across the street from the school.
10) I slung the backpack back on, extended Big Bertha’s handle and trudged across the street during a break in traffic and arrived at the guard gate about 5:30 p.m. China time (2:30 a.m. PDT)
Elapsed time is 41.5 hours, accrued sleep time 6 hours. I did study Chinese for about six weeks before this trip, but when the guard said something, I came out with “wo ming bai”, when I clearly didn’t ming bai (and I probably didn’t look real ming eyed and bushy tailed either!).
I quickly corrected myself (I doubt he believed that I had understood), he called someone who spoke English (she also worked with James and knew I was coming so explanations weren’t all that important)…All’s well that ends well.