Monday, May 30, 2016

Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway

2016 May 30

     Compared to the last two days, nothing happened. And that is exactly what we needed. Most of the guys had their bags packed and preliminary weighed last night. There was some laundry yet to distribute holding things up. (Side note: Laundry here has been, at best, average. I was always led to believe Chinese laundry service was exceptional. Some of the hotels, I believe, actually had an employee just load our stuff into their car and take it home, wash it as quickly as they could and bring it back. I was really disappointed when things were wet, poorly folded, and my dress shirts were not starched and creased).

     By 9 am we were fed, loaded, and on the road again. The bus ride to the airport took us right by the bullet train depot. I started to wonder why we didn’t just fly here in the first place, but apple pie flashed in my mind I knew it was time to stop questioning things. By 11:30, we were in the airline terminal. The boarding began about 12:40. We go out a door, into a bus, and are driven to the plane. We load up and wait to taxi. And wait. And wait.

     I should mention, that today on our original itinerary was an early morning flight with a day of shopping in Shanghai. I am not much of a shopper, but Shanghai is a cool place to walk around. I have only one thing to buy, a very specific box of tea for my sister. At this point you are asking yourself, “Doesn’t he want to get his wife something?” I do. And I have. All of you who have been enjoying this blog have also been enjoying her present. I have written to my wife every day since I left for this trip. She, and you, has been along for every up and down, every win and loss, every meal, bus ride, heart ache, and triumphant moment. What present can I buy the woman I love better than sharing my life?

     So about the plane. Apparently, the bus can’t drive on the highway early in the morning. Therefore, we cannot be on time for an early flight. Schedule changes to the only other flight to Shanghai which is 1:30. Which brings us back to the waiting on the tarmac to taxi. We waited so long, they served food while we waited. We finally land in Shanghai at 4:30. The itinerary had us shopping at a place mysteriously called, the Black Market. But it closes at 6, and it is a few train stops away from the airport. Marshall, Cal, and I decide it isn’t worth the hassle and potential frustration to maybe get 45 minutes of shopping. Everyone else sees it as a challenge and off they go. The “stayers” agree to take all the luggage to the hotel.

     The first shuttle that shows up is completely full. The four of us could not have fit, and now we have 20 suitcases and book bags. We decide to wait for the next shuttle. Twenty minutes later, same situation. Clearly, we are at the exit end of the airport and the shuttle is picking people up all through the loop. Robert calls the hotel and explains our situation. They send a special van for us. Meanwhile, a few other hotel guest are waiting at our spot now. When the van gets there, the guys does a great job getting everything in. He must be very good at Tetris, because he got 10 people and a ton of luggage into that thing.

      At the hotel, we unload everything onto three bellman carts and drag it upstairs. My room, strike that…our room, looks like the lost and found near the baggage carousel. I say we because I no longer have a private room. I am bunking with Calvin tonight as the hotel mysteriously didn’t have enough rooms for the team. Could this be passive retaliation for a game poorly played? Apple Pie.

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