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 motivated by Yehuda’s advice also that this would help me get over jet lag sooner, which contradicted my mother’s advice to get lots of sleep so Id 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 to was downstairs and wait on the front porch for Yehuda to pick me up.

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

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 once I got my backpack checked it was smooth sailing.

The seating on the plane was very, very tight and I had a whiny little boy kicking my seat the whole time. I tried to sleep, but was still on the night’s adrenaline so only got a few minutes here and there. So, I mostly listened to music while going over my 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 funning 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 got there. Thy had an aquarium and fake river running through the food court. I amused myself wandering through duty free for a bit and treated myself to some rose petal chocolate. I needed some real food as well, and the cheapest healthy warm option I found was vegetable udon soup… which was possibly the worst $7 soup I’ve ever had. But then, one doesn’t expect fine cuisine at an airport.

The plane to Hong Kong was much more spacious and packed with many more people. I tried reading The Princes of Ireland and the Globe & Mail, but neither could hold my attention in my excitement, so I browsed on the plane movies. To my surprise, Edward Burtinsky’s film Manufactured Landscapes was featured, but sadly the picture on the screen did it 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, I was absolutely 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 one of my own!

After excited taking a torrent of photographs I noticed I was the only one in te cabin with a 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 by the window and tried to get some sleep.

Wing of airplane over a patchwork of land below

After 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- more appropriate for TV watching, and 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 it in silence. 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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