On arrival in Shanghai Pu Dong airport, I collected my bags and cleared customs without incident. As I left the airport I was approached by a guy who said "I'm airport staff" and jingled his name tag, and proceeded to convince me to take his friends cab
. It cost twice the Y200 I should have paid, but it was a nice big van, not a small car, and it was a long drive so I was fine paying it. When we got to the station a porter immediately grabbed my bags, and though I'd normally have shooed him away I allowed it. He charged my 80 up front and then helped me get everything inside. He took me to the automated ticket machines which I was wary about, but it worked out. The bullet train ticket was Y220 for 1st class. Again, I didn't need that level of service, but what the hell, I was tired and toting 200lbs of crap, so I went for it. My little dude absolutely flew through the station; even with my big bags. I had trouble keeping up, he was fearless. He got me all the way there and onto the train, but then demanded Y400~!!! What a con! Problem was, he had no leverage then, so after alot of argument and upsetting most of the car I was in, he finally left with Y150. So it cost Y230 in total to have my bags toted around for me, ten yuan more than the ticket itself.
The train ride was marvelous. I used a stewardess' phone and called my Ameson contact and settled in. We topped off at 300 kph, drove through a crazy storm, and saw quite a bit of country, and more construction. There are high rises going up EVERYWHERE. When I reached Nanjing, the stewardess told me that my friend had called back and that I was going to follow them outta the station
. So while I had a dirty little schiester hauling my bags onto the train, I got help carrying them off from three lovely young ladies. Much nicer experience. I was thrilled to see the two Ameson guys waiting for me at the gate, it'd been a long two days and I was more than ready to give myself into some one else's care and just mentally shut off. One of them, "James" is a regular around Ameson and I've seen him a few times in the last two days.
The hotel is actually quite nice. I am on the third floor, and since it was sweltering when I got here it was great to come in and turn on the A/C. I have free internet, there's hot water in a big new shower, and though they're not very soft the beds have nice down comforters. I have to share the room with a fellow teacher, from my very town in fact, but he's a real negative Nancy and has a bad habit of imposing himself in a lot of ways, from comandeering your snacks to including you in his plans without even asking. I hope I grow to like this guy, 'cause I am going to be spending A LOT of time with him.......
Well I've made it. I am safely in China after a long journey and did not lose a thing. My final flight, the longest and most important one, I was propositioned to change seats with an older Chinese man so he would have two seats together for his wife and son, but the seat I traded him for was directly in front of a fat little 12-13 year old Chinese boy who kicked and pressed on my seat for nearly the whole 11 hours. Additionally, my reading light didn't work and my screen in the head rest was messed up. So, I had no TV, I could not read, and some little pudgy kid kicking me. It was awesome. The only thing that kept me going was knowing it had been a selfless move to take the seat.