Today (12-29-11) I woke up the latest I’ve ever woken up in China: 9:45. We got ready quickly and ate our breakfast quietly. We checked out of the hotel and put all of the luggage in the car before taking a bus to the beautiful temple we’d planned to visit yesterday. Before entering, there were lots of homeless/beggars in front of the temple and we quickly went and I bought the tickets so we could enter. We walked around for an hour or so before leaving and seeing the most depressed-looking man with blackened feet, long hair, and unkempt and dirty clothing. I would have liked to give him something but then the others would follow me. As it was, a fortune teller followed Shuyan telling her of how her future would be full of money because it showed in her face. Apparently there’s no money in mine as the fortune teller steadily ignored me, haha.
We took a taxi from the bus stop back to the university and made him wait while we put in my luggage. I had planned to take a taxi straight to the airport , but Shuyan said it would be too expensive. In hindsight, the cost wasn’t really too bad, but we thought we’d have plenty of time (we were leaving around 12:30 and my flight was at 5). We quickly got on the subway and spent forever changing trains and going up and down stairs and escalators. I didn’t feel too pressured to make the flight. If I missed it, I’d miss it and reschedule, and if not, then that was good too. Shuyan was more worried that I was; I was super calm because I knew there wasn’t really anything we could do to get there any faster. We arrived at the airport right before 4 and got to the counter at 4:07, and they wouldn’t let me check in as they said check in closes one hour before departure. Shuyan felt terrible; according to her, we’d spent a lot of time running and rushing for nothing. I told her not to feel bad at all as we couldn’t fight destiny, haha. I re-booked my flight for the next day, and we went and checked into one of the airport hotels for the night. I called my family at an appropriate time and let them know that my return would be delayed by a day. We ate at KFC and just talked and talked. I’m really going to miss this girl!
I’m going home (12-30-2011)! Shuyan left the hotel around 10 so she could get back to work at Shanghai University. We had a nice goodbye and I promised to let her know as soon as I landed in Chicago. I took my time as check-out wasn’t until 1, but I made it out of the hotel by 12:30. I went and had lunch in the airport and bought a few small souvenirs before getting checked in at 2. I went and sat in the airport gate and sent a few emails informing Shuyan and family that I was waiting for my flight at the gate.
As usual, I had interesting seat partners. One lady had been visiting her son and his family in Shanghai, and the other was an Indian med student who was going back to Chicago after visiting his family in Shanghai. It’s really such a small world. I just wish traveling around it wasn’t so expensive! The flight home was longer than my flight coming to Shanghai (no stopover in Japan) but felt like it was much shorter (I had my own tv screen and could control what I watched, as opposed to watching whatever was shown on the going flight). I caught up on a couple of movies and watched some tv shows before sleeping the last 6 hours or so of the flight.
In the Chicago airport, I had to get my bags from baggage claim and then re-check them. It was a hassle, but I was glad to know that my bags would actually be on the plane with me. One thing I found funny: I got off my plane with 95% Asian people and our flight mixed with people coming from a predominantly Muslim country. Every airport attendant assumed I was with the other flight and kept trying to direct me with them instead of the others. I found it a funny welcome back to America 🙂 I called my brother’s cell when I had the chance and had the pleasure of hearing him shout with happiness and laugh with pure joy at hearing my voice.
I slept through the entire flight back to Atlanta, completely dwarfed by the 6 feet+ men who were my seatmates. I luckily had the window seat so was able to rest somewhat comfortably. I called my family when I landed and heard my brother laugh again, as well as the excitement of my parents. They made perfect time; they arrived at the airport right when I got my bags, and my sister launched herself onto me (loaded with luggage as I was) and tried to give me a huge bouquet of flowers (my hands were fully occupied by said luggage) before strangling me with another hug 🙂 When we got home, my brother jumped and hugged me for 2 seconds, satisfying himself that I was home, before running to bed and slamming his door. It’s good to be home 🙂