A place called Wuhan

Oh what would I do without travel adventures.  Checking out of the hotel was much more complicated than it needed to be…back to the 1000 yuan deposit.  So I charged lunch once, and then there’s hotel fees, so the total bill was 143 yuan.  Fine.  Can I pay that?  No, you want my card…fine.  Great…but, why are you charging more?  And do I get credit for the amount I didn’t spend. Of course, she can’t confirm anything, keeps telling me it’s my bill and all I’ve signed is something for an additional charge.  So she grabs the girl next to her and she’s at least able to explain that they’ve charged the new amount and I will get credit for the old amount.  Fantastic…now that we’ve sorted that out….

I go out to get a cab.  The bellhop asks me where I’m going and I say the airport.  He proceeds to ask me additional questions in Chinese.  I just look at him….so he tries again.  Yup, still don’t understand you.  Then he’s like, domestic or international.  Ah, something I understand.  So I get in the cab and tell the driver where to take me.  After all that with the bellhop, I don’t think he ever communicated with the driver.  The driver takes me to the airport for 15 yuan…yup, was definitely swindled by the non-taxi driver.  Then he proceeds to pop the trunk and sit there.  Ok, apparently I’ll be getting my own suitcase.

The airport is interesting – of course all the check-in counters look the same, so I have to go to a general counter to attempt to ask where to check in.  That was actually easier than I thought it would be, she brought up the flights to Beijing on a computer, I picked mine out and was on my way.

I could only find one restaurant in the airport, despite seeing the signs for KFC.  I would totally eat KFC right now.  But all I could find was ‘the lucky shamrock’ or something like that.  And it was….well…lucky for them, theyre the only restaurant here.  My choices – steak and French fries, lamb and French fries, steak tips and French fries, chicken wings and French fries.  Great…..so I end up with chicken wings and fries.  Which they drown in catsup, and the chicken wings were so fried, I don’t think there was meat on them.  And of course there aren’t any napkins.  And, extremely thirsty, I ask for water….yup, none of that either.

Ok…is there some reason the lady across from me cant cover her mouth when she coughs?  Moving on…

On my hunt for a bottle of water, I notice that there are massage chairs all over the airport, kind of like slot machines in vegas.  Interesting, and slightly gross.

Alright, Beijing bound, thank god.  And my jeans are still wet….

And then….i get on the plane, and some guy has taken my seat so he can sit with his family.  Fine, whatever, hes taken my aisle seat and given me a window seat.  Which, actually, im fine with.  I like the window…I have my own space, I can sleep against the window, im good to go.  Other than it’s further back, but whatever.  I remember a conversation with my father about how the back of the plane is the safest place to sit, so im good with that too.

And somehow, despite the relaxing, restful, five days ive had, I fall asleep.  Only to wake up to an announcement about turbulence.  Fine, whatever, ive survived that before.  Then another announcement followed shortly after that….i think the first two versions were in mandarin and Cantonese, so of course I don’t understand…I can just read the mild panic on the faces of those around me.  Ok….whatever is coming isn’t good.  And then they get to the broken English….’the plane is experiencing difficulties, so we will be emergency landing in wuhan’.

Great, awesome…this is what I always hoped for….and then we hit turbulence on the long landing approach.  Somehow, I was eerily calm, and could just think, well, im not going to know what happens until it does.  Is my seatbelt tight (like liam neason in whatever movie Jaime and I watched last weekend with the plane crashing), I can pull my legs up, and brace myself against the seat in front of me.  Ive got this….or something.

And then we land…worst runway landing ever, but we made it.  So I thought maybe we’d get off the plane.  Or not so much.  I guess they decided to fix it with us on it.  I have pictures of them fixing the wing right outside my window….awesome, I totally could have had a front row seat to whatever was going to go wrong in the air….i have photos…will post once I get back on facebook.

The whole experience was about 2 hours….and really one of the most humbling yet.  I know people have been stuck on US tarmacs and runways for much longer, but really, when youre stuck in a plane, with 170+ people who you don’t understand, and don’t understand you, and its hot (think bikram yoga), and your only source of information is the gauge of people’s emotions around you….it’s totally different, and totally humbling.

And of course, my phone only half worked, but I was able to text Brian and let him know what happened, and say I love you, and text Jaime and let her know I would be late.  Jaime offered to have someone find out what was going on via phone, but I was pretty sure there was no information to be had, other than that I was hot, sweaty, and hungry in the back corner of a plane.

Luckily, they did feed us dinner…or unluckily….choices – rice and chicken or something and noodles….i asked again, and they said – rice and chicken, and I was like, yes, that’s fine. It smells disgusting….im kind of sad I ate my first granola bar when we landed and my last when I was on the phone with Jaime 20 minutes ago…

And it was, disgusting….i didn’t really have any chicken – the lady next to me was lucky – she had a bunch.  I had rice and nasty veggies marinated in some sauce.  So gross, but I was so hungry.

And they continue making announcements….some translated, some not.  At some point, I started ignoring them and just reading the people around me.  Then the lady next to me looked out the window and was like, it’s raining…and I was like, yes, yes it is.  You speak English.  Yay!  She asked where I was from, and I her.  She had been on vacation with her husband and lived in Beijing.  She asked if I had come here to travel, I said yes, for that and school.  Then there was another announcement…I looked at her and she said….we’re leaving in 10 minutes.  They never bothered to translate that to English.  Later when I saw her at baggage claim, she waved to me, and I waved back.  Short and sweet, but with limited language skills, I had made a friend.

And then I went to take a cab to the hotel…an actual cab this time.  Jaime had one of her DM’s tell the driver where to go in Chinese, so all should have been well.  Until he took me to some random hotel, and….somehow, I was pretty sure this wasn’t correct.  Of course he’s talking at me in Chinese, and im like, I really have no idea….so I call them and we try again.  And he’s still talking/yelling at me in Chinese…and im like, yeah, whatever…the plane didn’t kill me, keep it coming.  So then he calls the hotel….and then pulls up to some random people on the street to ask for directions…eventually we get there, and id survived adventure number 2 of the day.

The hotel was actually quite accommodating….secondary check in was far easier than I thought it might be.  Someone took my bags up, and then I came down for some food…really my first food of the day….so excited…only to find the restaurant closed.  After I found that out, I must have looked like I was going to cry, because the manager came out and was like, you just checked in, right?  And I was like, yes, yes I did.  So she told me I could have a meat, cheese, and bread plate, or a salad.  I opted for the meat, cheese, and bread plate, along with some wine, and all was right with the world.  I had survived adventure number 3 of the day.

And then I get a text – ‘we should find somewhere to get foot massages’.  Yes, yes we should…that, that sounds like heaven right now.