On Our Way to the World Expo Shanghai 2010

I’m writing this only an hour into our flight to China, but already I feel like I’ve arrived. The oddities and sometimes humorous essence of daily life in China has made it’s way on board our A340.

The antics started even as we were pulling away from the gate on our way to the runway. While most US airlines make exhaustive announcements about fastening our seat belts and turning off all electronic devices – we instead just started moving. People were still putting their bags up and typing away on their laptops and the world didn’t end. The crew did get everyone in line by the time we took off though; it was a simple reminder though that sometimes things in China are just a bit different than were used to.

Fortunately for us our flight to Shanghai (which is taking us 14 hours and 40 minutes nonstop) was only half full. Even before we took to the air people were spreading out to claim empty rows for themselves, including yours truly. What I really don’t understand is why our plane was half empty the same day the World Expo opened up in Shanghai.

The best part of this trip was the preview I got of our summer road trip. My window seat gave me a breathtaking view of the Pacific shoreline all the way up through Canada.

Fortunately the fun wasn’t over. At about ten hours into the flight we were witnesses to a classic shouting match between two overly tired seat mates. I have no idea what was going on, but it reminded me of being at the scene of an accident in China and being a referee in the crowd.

No trip to China would be complete though without a group exercise video, and this flight was no exception. The flight attendants got up in at the aisles and led everyone through sort of a half tai chi routine to get our circulation going again. All up and down the aisles hands were going up over heads and heads were rolling side to side. Who needs a nice park and early morning conditions when you have a plane!

Unfortunately the more traditional inflight entertainment options on China Eastern are decidedly limited. What all these little anecdotes reminded me of was that China is a place where you have go roll with it. There are cultural differences, sure, as well as some bizarre tweaks approaching Japanese style craziness, but you have go be ready for it all.

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