UPDATED with a pic of the world at 430 kph for M.F.
What a trip. Sitting here in my home office in Vancouver at 4:30 a.m. on Monday and thinking back over the last five weeks, the whole thing is a bit of a blur.
Over the weekend I decided to see if I could catch one of the Air Canada flights to Vancouver ahead of schedule. In the end my friend Dean wasn't able to make it up from Hong Kong. It would have cost way too much for just a two-day visit. I'm kicking myself for not planning things better so I could visit with him.
I took the Maglev high-speed train to the Shanghai Pudong airport. I opted for the first class ticket, which wasn't that much more expensive. It gives you a seat in the front car and I had it all to myself. There was a digital clock and speedometer on display. At exactly 12:20 the engine roared up. My jaw fell open as the digits racked up the speed. 100km/h, 200km/h, 250km/h (this is as fast as I thought it went) 300km/h, 400km/h, 430km/h. I couldn't believe it. The world was whizzing by so fast I couldn't focus on anything. The trip that takes roughly 45 minutes by taxi was over in just 8.
Air Canada was good about the stand by ticket. There was no extra cost, and my luggage was accepted. I grabbed a final meal at the airport restaurant, a noodle soup of grilled pork and vegetables. The flight lifted off at around 5 pm on Saturday, and touched down in Vancouver four hours earlier at 1 pm Saturday. Donna was waiting at the airport for me, very happy to see me. I was overjoyed to see her there.
I've unpacked now, and tried to get back into a normal sleeping patter, but with the clock at 5 a.m. that's clearly not working yet.
The Vancouver air is as wonderful as I remembered it. Already my sinuses have started to clear and the drip in the back of my throat is going away.
On my last day in Shanghai I went to the Yuyuan gardens, which are surrounded by a series of ancient looking buildings. It started raining hard and I got stuck in nearby McDonald's waiting it out. Taxis forgo the meter in big storms and prices shoot up about 7 times the actual rate. Once it cleared I made my way back to the hotel to pack my stuff.
I did some planning for my writing. I have a heckuva lot to do in the next few weeks, but the stories are forming in my mind. Now I just have to get them down on my keyboard.
It was a great experience to see China and India back to back. There's still a lot I wish I'd have done. In India I didn't take the time to visit any new places. I would really like to visit Rajasthan and see the temples there, or visit the Ganges. While in China, I also hope to one-day visit the remote northwestern region. That was all on my itinerary for this trip, but I think I was a bit overambitious and unrealistic in my planning. Lesson learned for next time.
I don't plan on updating this blog any time soon. I set it up for the purpose of the trip and I don't think you'd want to read about my walk to the office or how I dashed out that last-minute story on deadline. I'll post a last few pics.
Oh, and before I wrap up, my first meal back in Canada? A four-cheese burger from Vera's on Denman, with fries and a strawberry milkshake. That might account for the rumblings in my belly.