Flying to China

Air Canada plane on the tarmac against a bright blue sky

I didn’t sleep the night before I left for China.

My last two nights at a combination of excitement about my trip and a desperate attempt to get all my projects done before I left. I was also motivated by my boyfriend’s that this would help me get over jet lag sooner. However, this contradicted my mother’s advice to get lots of sleep so I’d be in peak health for the long plane ride to China.

My night went by very, very quickly. I didn’t get home until 11pm from my cohort’s graduation dinner and a quick jaunt through the Annex bookstores looking for Wallpaper’s guide to Hong Kong (unsuccessfully I might add). I went about some household chores and worked on a project before all of a sudden it was 5:00am

I had a shower, made a breakfast smoothie, added some final belongings to my bag before saying fair well to my room for 2 weeks and locked my door behind me. I then went downstairs to wait on the front porch for my boyfriend, Yehuda, to pick me up.

It is rare that I am up in the early hours of the morning. I always get a kick out of it when I do. It’s like a hidden world that I’m suddenly a part of.

The drive to the airport was beautiful. I came to appreciate the unlikely allure of Toronto’s outskirts: the quiet and desolate neighbourhood streets, the glowing lights along the highway a daylight breaks against a grey-blue sky, the pink sunlight on the skyscrapers, the winding highway and the headlights of the cars on it.

Yehuda and I kissed fair well in front of Terminal 1 and I headed on in. The airport was a little confusing at first, but it was smooth sailing once I got my backpack checked at the luggage counter.

The seating on the plane to Vancouver was very, very tight and I had a whiny little boy kicking my seat the whole time. I tried to sleep, but was still high on adrenaline, so only dozed for a few minutes here and there. I mostly listened to music while going over my travel itinerary, reading Surface magazine, and Tony Diamanti’s new play script, My Voice (which was excellent I might add).

I enjoyed looking out the window. It’s funny how orderly the cities and farmland look from above; row upon row of houses, copper and green fields with forests tactfully placed between properties. Then there were the Rockies- surreal, white capped abstract sculptures. Seeing them from above made me yearn to visit them in person. They looked so foreign, majestic, and alluring. I wonder what China will look from above…

Air Canada plane on the tarmac with the mountains seen on the horizon and blue skies

I was very amused by the Vancouver airport once we arrived. They had an aquarium and fake river running through the food court. I amused myself wandering through the duty free for a bit and treated myself to some rose petal chocolate. I decided that I needed some real food as well. The cheapest healthy warm option I could find was vegetable udon soup – which was possibly the worst $7 soup I’ve ever had. But then, one doesn’t expect to find fine cuisine at an airport.

The plane to Hong Kong was much more spacious and packed with many more people than the domestic flight I had been on. I tried reading The Princes of Ireland and the Globe & Mail, but neither could hold my attention in my excitement. So, I browsed the on-flight movies. To my surprise, Edward Burtinsky’s film Manufactured Landscapes was featured, but sadly the picture on the screen did the film no justice, so I moved onto Hitchcock, a film I’d been meaning to watch for awhile. It was a good choice.

Wing of airplane with clouds and mountains below

When I looked out the window after Hitchcock finished, I was struck by the beauty of the landscape as we flew over the Yukon and Alaska. I quickly got out my camera and took some photographs. I’ve found myself drawn to aerial photography of glaciers lately and this was as close as I’d got to taking photos of my own!

After excitedly taking a torrent of photographs, I noticed that I was the only one in the cabin with an open window. I took this as a sign that I should be sleeping, so put aside my camera and stuffed my pillow up against the wall and tried to get some sleep.

Wing of airplane over a patchwork of land below

After some sleep, two cups of fragrant jasmine tea and a nap, we were flying over China! My first impression was how flat it looked after the Yukon and how sore my gums were from the plane ride. The light was dim and more appropriate for TV watching now. I felt inspired by the views from the widow to put on Burtynsky’s Manufactured Landscapes. However, this time around, I’d lost my earphones so watched the film in silence, without sound. I was watching it primarily for the cinematography anyway.

With my arrival in Hong Kong, the 21 hour travel by air portion of the trip was now complete. The trip now continues by land.

Next: the bus to Dongguan.

– Photos taken using an iPhone 4S. 

Watch the whole film here.

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