Our adventure is starting. Left Vancouver under grey skies and a light rain arriving at the airport in good time. Due to Ron’s elite status we breezed through check-in and security. Once we reached the Air Canada lounge a calm descended. The lounge is so much calmer than the main waiting area in the airport – with complementary food and beverages and magazines and generally just people resting quietly while waiting for their flights in comfortable chairs and attached tables. Also the feeling that we were finally underway helped calm my nerves as we got into holiday mode.
Boarded the flight which was then delayed an hour due to a minor mechanical problem, but at last we were underway by 1:00 pm. Even though we traveled in economy, we were reasonable comfortable in a two-seat row, with just Ron at the window, and me at the aisle. We were also lucky because the services started just ahead of our row so we received our meals there with plenty of choices still available.
Landed in Shanghai about 5:00 pm local time, which was about 2:00 am in Vancouver. Got through customs and collected the bags without incident. We were met at the gate by Stella, a work colleague of Ron’s and we loaded our bags in the van for the three hour road trip to Changzhou. Arrived in Changzhou about 9:00 pm local time and checked into the hotel. Then we went for a lovely “Welcome Dinner” at a nearby restaurant. The beautifully presented dinner included drunken shrimp, roasted peanuts, Chinese cabbage, radishes and bok choy, roast beef, dried fish, some kind of whole fish in sauce, spicy, crispy cauliflower, tofu in spicy broth, dumpling soup, and many other exotic foods. This was all served in traditional Chinese family style on a large table with rotating lazy Susan in the centre of the table. There were eight of us at the table but only Stellar spoke English so I missed much of the conversation. Everybody was laughing and having a good time, and everybody was very friendly. I provided some amusement through my lack of ability to handle chopsticks with any kind of proficiency, and still more when I even struggled with the fork that they so graciously provided part way through the meal. I laughed as much as anyone, and it was really a good sort of icebreaker. Thanks for the welcome, China.
Then back to the hotel for some much needed sleep after a very long day where we crossed the international date line somewhere over the Pacific and spent over 17 hours in transit.