Friday, January 14

I don't speak Chinese

The few times I've been lucky enough to travel in "non-economy", the one constant is how quieter it is in business class.

As I boarded the plane, I noticed mostly older Chinese business men, and the softly spoken requests of the female flight attendants. The business men seemed to communicate in nods, grunts and the odd hand gesture.

But a young Asian woman behind me, spoke in English and Chinese. She was trying to explain she had purchased two business class seats. One for her 85lb ultra tiny self and the other for her 70lb cello and hard case. An Asian cello player, who ever heard of that?

And then another young Chinese woman sat next to me. The flight attendant, having previously switched to English to ask if I wanted to hang my jacket, switched back to her native language, upon noticing the Chinese woman sat next to me.

"I don't speak Chinese", was the reply from my seat neighbor. I quickly realized I had an over-demanding self-entitled American bitch next to me who just happened to be of Chinese origin, but could not speak a single lick of her mother tongue.

As she unpacked the über-expensive items from her grossly expensive carry on, she talked on the phone, and began to complain that the business section was fairly empty ... but she had to sit next to someone else.

"Why can't they separate us all and give us two seats?", she said, oblivious to the fact this made me feel like a registered sex offender.

And so the merry seat dance began. Our section was a two-two-two, and first up she decided to move one row ahead. At this point another passenger said she already had dibs on that seat.

Huffing and puffing the bitch-du-jour then schlepped her stuff up to the front of the section. Only to be told that this was for crew. Then she headed for the back, only to be told to return to her original seat.

She began to lie.

Your colleague told me to come here, I'm just trying to find a double seat and you keep sending me all over the cabin. She then started to cry fake tears. Poor thing ... The seats are only 50" wide with about 6 feet of clearance in front of them. Of course you need two.

Every time a cabin crew spoke to her they began in Chinese, only to get the "I don't speak Chinese" refrain.

By now the quiet zone was full of quickly walking flight attendants all chattering in harsh syncopated tones at the non-Chinese speaking China-woman in seat 7d

She got her way. They actually moved an older guy to the seat next to me so that she could have her own set of two seats.

The bitch slept for almost the whole 15 hours, although every time the crew woke her up for food or drinks they spoke to her in Chinese which pissed her off no end.

As for me, I slept, I read, I ate fruit!

Upon landing in Shanghai the immigration was a breeze, and I was quickly directed to the gate for my flight to Shenzhen.

This part of the airport was mental. Jibber jabbering everywhere. I'm tiring of the cacophony of harsh cadences.

A bus ride took me to the plane. They offered me a VIP car to get there, but man of the people that I am, I rode with the commies.

I'm writing this on the flight to Shenzhen. So far I've had noodles, and a fruit with white flesh, black seeds and a magenta rind. No idea what it was, but I managed to keep down 3 bites before I gagged.

The attendants have been old-school stewardess adorable. All young, cute and smiley. The woman serving me says please instead of thank you. I've started doing the same. So far I've only got hello (你好) and water (水) in my Chinese vocab.

On tv, there appears to be a nature show with underwater hippos. I've just realized it's a cartoon. I guessed this when bright yellow flying bats jumped into the sea and bit the oceanic hippo with a suction cup mouth. Crazy shit.

Once I land, I have to take a taxi ride to the hotel. This promises to be 30 minutes of after-midnight fun, and then hopefully I can check in, sleep some more and tomorrow is when I start my work.

Well guess again. Because my luggage did not make it. Rost ruggage if you will ... 30 minutes filling in paperwork, followed by another half hour waiting in line for a taxi, followed by another 15 mins trying to work out the hotel address in Chinese.

Checked in just before 2am.

Obviously I'm looking forward to wearing the same clothes for another day ... And praying it is just a day.

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