Chasing the sun across the Pacific

15Jul10

I am posting this from the hotel in Chengdu. It’s 6:30am in the morning and breakfast isn’t for a half hour then off to see pandas. Bryan and I both got up between 5am and 6am (local time). We’ve now figured out how to access wireless internet in our hotel room and WordPress actually is working within China. Who knew? But now I’m trying to upload this post and I’m having troubles. I’m thinking its more an internet connection issue, as the connection isn’t the best. I’ll update it later with the photos, but in the meantime here’s what I had written to blog about while on the plane to Shanghai and completely out of my mind after being awake for a very long time. Enjoy.

I previously wrote a blog post on the wordpress app on my phone and had 10 images, but when I went to publish the post in my layover in Vancouver the post disappeared from the internet and my phone entirely. So, I will do my best to recapture what I had written, plus some additions. Except it is now 9:16pm on July 14th Toronto time. I have been awake since around 7am on July 13th, with only have probably three short naps of less than an hour. Bryan’s been up since around 10am on the 13th and hasn’t even shut his eyes once. We’re on our way to Shanghai now and since we’ve crossed the international date line, I think our official time of where we are at this moment is 9:16am on July 15th. In reality we have been awake for a day and a half and still have about 12 hours before we arrive at our final destination in Chengdu. That all being said, here is my attempt in these conditions to recount the past I don’t know how many hours.

July 13th 7:00am (Toronto time) – I awake and get reading for my last day work before vaca.

July 13th 4:30pm (Toronto time) – I leave work hoping to have a three or so hour nap immediately. That doesn’t happen. I keep trying to nap but I just can’t do it, eventually just chilling out between 11pm and 2am (July 14th) and watching the series finale of the Hills.

July 14th 3:10am (Toronto time) – Bryan and I have all our stuff together, we shower and get dressed for the plane. We roll our suitcases to Coffee Time for an XL and walk to Bloor and Bathurst to catch the 3:39am 300A blue night Bloor-Danforth bus to the airport.

Waiting for the bus in my travel dress

Bryan in his travel jacket

The bus arrives at 3:36am and we’re on our way to the airport!

Bus to the airport... super early

I've almost been up 24hrs and we aren't even started!!

We get to the airport at 4:15am and it’s pretty empty. An Air Canada employee in charge of helping customers use those selfcheck-in kiosks comes over to help us. He looked at our seats and asked if we’d want seats together and possibly at an exit so we could have more leg room. Of course we said yes. As he was helping us, I realized that he just went out of his way to make our trip way more comfortable, while completely ignoring all the other people at the different kiosks (there were approximately 4 or so groups at kiosks at this time). I’m tempted to think we got such a service because we were fairly dressed up: me in a polka dotted dress and Bryan in a jacket, tie, cowboy boots, and hat. My plan in looking a bit nicer for the trip was also partially to potentially get bumped to first class. While that has not happened (yet), we have gotten really nice service from everyone. It’s funny how doing a small thing like dressing slightly nicer (which doesn’t lower your comfort level that much, if at all) can make a difference in service.

Check out all that leg room! I can stretch my legs out straight and still be far away from the bulkhead in front of me!

Look! I can fully stretch out my legs!

Our flight left on time at 7:00 and five hours later we were in Vancouver. I spent most of the time using the in-flight entertianment. I tried to watch Atom Egoyan’s Chloe but could not keep my eyes open. I drifted in and out of consiousness throughout. After “waking up” I watched the first episode of Treme, which was pretty cool.

Wow is the Vancouver airport ever full of kitschy Canadiana. I didn’t see the waterfall (I hope they still have it!), but I did see the aquarium. It was pretty cool. We had udon noodle soup that had some mysterious pink noodle thing in it. It tasted like rubbery noodle.

Mystery pink noodle

We only had about an hour and a half layover, then were off to Shanghai on July 14th at 11:05am (Vancouver time. That’s 2:05pm on July 14th Toronto time and 2:05am on July 15th China time). Again, we got nice seats with lots of leg room, except the arm rest between our seats does not lift up which has proved to be my main stumbling block in curling up and going to bed.

Our in-flight entertainment is slightly better for this leg of the trip. There’s some more programming and the flight information maps are much more detailed:

Bryan's inflight entertainment of choice: Maps

Sunrise... sunset

I find it comforting that we are not going directly over the Pacific. In the case of emergency, we can always land in British Columbia, Alaska, Russia, South Korea, Japan, or China. A lot better than landing in the middle of the Pacific. We’re on the wing. In case of emergency, I have to open the door and then get to be the first out. I’m supposed to follow the arrows on the wing:

In case of emergency turn left for exit off plane wing

This leg of the trip is slightly more than twelve hours, which is incredibly long especially when we’ve been up for I can’t even wrap my head around calculating how long. I can’t focus on a movie without sort-of-but-not-really falling asleep, TV is okay but there’s not much I want to watch, my eyes are way too tired to read or work on my cross stitch. The only thing that I’ve done that’s remotely entertaining is help Bryan do a crossword and we played crazy eight countdown. He won. Bah. Oh and we made a city on Sim City 2000.

An interesting thing about our flights too is that we are constantly in sunshine. We will have 27 hours of constant sunshine (if I’m doing my math correctly. I believe I have, but I am way too tired to begin and explain how I came up with that figure). After our first meal and about four or five hours ago all the lights were dimmed in the cabin and the shades were drawn while we entered into artificial “nighttime.” Except this “nighttime” didn’t correspond with the actual nighttime of our departing or arriving cities. We’re still in “nighttime” now, but about an hour ago we were given our second meal (“breakfast”?). To wake us up from this “nighttime” the cabin suddenly was illuminated in a dark blue light that turned to purple, red, orange, yellow, green, and finally to a light blue. Then we were served our second meal. Afterwards, we were put back in “nighttime.” It’s 10:00pm on July 14th in Toronto right now, 10:00am on July 15th in China, and 7:00pm on July 14th in Vancouver. None of those times is “nighttime.”

Meals on the plane have been good. My first meal was Curry Dahl with bean salad,

Curry dahl with bean salad

while Bryan had the choice of some type of chicken or pork. The second (“breakfast”?) for me was stir fried tofu, vegetables, and rice with quinoa salad and a fruit cup,

while Bryan had chicken or beef with rice and melon.

So, at 10:00pm on July 14th in Toronto (10:00am on July 15th in China), we’ve travelled 3833 miles from Vancouver and still have 1840 miles to go, arriving at 2:29pm China time (4.5 hours to go for this flight, then a 2 hour layover in Shanghai before another 3 hour flight to Chengdu). We’re at 35 000 ft, travelling at a ground speed of 456mph, with an outside temperature of -63.4 F.

I think I may try to sleep again. I feel like I’m going insane because I’m tired and confused about where I am in space and time. Luckily for my sanity, the time difference is an even 12 hours so converting between time zones is pretty simple (except when you toss Vancouver into the mix). I’ll update again later.

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One Response to “Chasing the sun across the Pacific”

  1. 1 Laura

    holy crap. I can’t beleive you kept track of all that. I guess you had a lot of time on your hands. As you might have noticed, I’ve been reading your posts backwards from July 30th. I’m glad you’re enjoying your trip. I don’t think I could deal with that much travel time without losing my mind and getting really squirly and agitated. The 8 hour flight from Frankfurt to Toronto was torture when I did it!
    Take care!


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