I arrived in Tokyo excited to see my first glimpse of the country. Unfortunately airports seem to give no justice to the country they’re in. I might as well have been in any other major airport in the world, and I experienced about 0% of Tokyo. My connecting flight from Tokyo to Shanghai, China was much more interesting as they served authentic Japanese plane food, which consisted of sushi, rice with legumes, noodles, a spicy oriental flavored snack mix, and some mysterious salad that they only gave us about two teaspoons of.
After about 16 hours of flight I was exhausted. It’s always confusing how one can be so tired after doing absolutely no physical activity for so long. I also felt disgusting as the weather in Shanghai was sweltering with humidity even though it was 9pm and I was sweating from every inch of my body. We still had about a 3 hour drive to our destination (Chongming Island), during which I passed out on my bus seat and occasionally opened my eyes to catch a glimpse of China here and there.
It was only when we got to our hotel when I realized just how hyped about this race this area was. The hotel was decorated from wall to wall with giant banners advertising the race, and even the elevator doors had top-to-bottom plasters of the race announcing such things as “Wish you successful” and “Come, Go home”. The next day we would see banners on all the lightposts advertising our race and string up along the road. That night I passed out on my rock-hard bed that might as well have been the floor and listened to the continuous sound of honking outside even though there was hardly any traffic.
I think the locals here think we are just the funniest spectacles as they would point to us during our ride today in the ridiculous humidity. I think all of us had a few near death experiences, too, as everyone drives, rides, or walks as though they’re in a crowded city in a third world country. I almost got run over by friendly looking Chinese girl on a moped, until I screamed like bloody murder to keep her from running me into the rickshaw next to her. Nobody seems to find it unusual or perhaps dangerous to just stop and sit in the middle of an 80 mph highway, and forget about obeying intersection lights…unless there’s some complicated new stoplight system I’m unaware of.
Breakfast was a mixture of traditional Chinese food and attempted Western food. Next to my regular hard boiled eggs and orange juice was fried rice and some doughy roll thing with veges inside. Lunch? Nothing abnormal about a platter of broiled chicken pieces including the heads for decoration (or that’s what I prefer to assume). I didn’t realize the BBQ chicken was really duck thighs, but it didn’t really matter anyway because it tasted all the same. Their attempt at Italian pasta was Chinese noodles and some mysterious meat drizzled with a bit of watery red liquid. I applaud them for trying. I can’t wait to see what’s for dinner at our “Welcome Dinner”.
I just tried posting this to blogspot, but apparently that website in inaccessible here, along with facebook. For some reason this doesn't surprise me. I didn't expect this place to allow such free expression of radical ideas. That, or posting sideways smiley faces on your friend's profile page.
-Jessi Prinner :)