My return home was an incredibly long one, part of it being my own doing for wanting to save a few £'s -- the price between direct flights and connecting flights is outrageous. All in all, the travelling from Wenzhou to Manchester cost me over 33 hours; three plane journeys; and five hours in a hotel.
My flight from Wenzhou was a breeze apart from having to say goodbye to Kimi which I hated. It was very quick too, we barely ascended as the captain announced that we were about to descend. In one piece we arrived at Shanghai Pudong airport. Everything was going just as planned, which also meant that I had a wait of nine hours until my 6:30am flight to Dubai (because I flew with Emirates). While walking around the unusually quiet airport I bumped into a man -- I presumed he worked for the airport -- who was asking if I wanted to stay in a cheap hotel until my flight left in the morning. I didn't really want to, but his broken English and my broken Chinese was so bad that all I could do was tell him that I wanted to check the time of departure for my flight. Unperturbed, he escorted me to another terminal and helped me to check the time. I saw there was a bus heading to the hotel with other people inside. Before I could properly make a decision he had put my suitcase in the back and I was on my way to the hotel. It was only when the door slammed shut that I realised there was a small chance that this bus was going to park in the middle of nowhere at which point the £2100 that was stashed in my wallet would forcibly be removed from me. Fortunately the bus did indeed stop at a hotel where I paid a reasonable amount for a few hours sleep. Apart from a call from Kimi which brought all my fears of robbery back to the surface, I managed to have a few hours of sleep. The front desk woke me at 3:30 and I was taken to the airport for check in at 4 am. Worth every penny of the £18 I paid for it.
The rest of the journey home was pleasant enough, although I was very disappointed with the Airbus plane that took off from Shanghai. I have become accustomed to Emirates' usual in-flight entertainment system, but this one was quite archaic in comparison. I actually had to change channels to choose what to watch, just like a television. Thankfully the flight from Dubai to the UK was back to excellence on a Boeing 777 plane -- even the food was nicer. Every time I have taken these flights to China I always have the pleasure of getting my meals before everybody else. It's great, there is always someone around my vicinity who I can hear impatiently muttering under their breath about the location of their meal, or why I've been given mine first. If you would like to have this luxury without having to pay any extra money, all you need to do is tell the travel agent you have a dietary requirement. There is a huge list to choose from, I go for the "Lacto-ovo vegetarian" option (that means I am a vegetarian who eats milk and eggs).
During my trip home I had the pleasure of staying in four airports. They are generally horrible and depressing places which could act as a kind of open-plan prison if one were to ever be decommissioned as an airport. I apply this rule to every airport I have been to apart from one: Dubai. If I have to be locked up anywhere for a day or two in between flights, I would choose there.
The gates at Wenzhou (top left), Shanghai (top right), and Dubai (middle) airports
Why I am rambling on about my trip home last week I have no idea. A whole week has gone by since then. Maybe another reason for the lack of posts here is because nothing too eventful has happened. Christmas was not ideal this year, mainly due to my mum being sick in bed with a flu-type illness. It seems to be slowly clearing up now, just a few days too late. On Sunday I also visited Dave (one of my friends from school). In February he and his girlfriend had a baby boy which they called Joel. I held him when he was just under one week old, he didn't even open his eyes then. Now he is completely changed, he laughs, climbs, crawls incredibly fast, and puts everything in his mouth. I am quite amazed by it all really.
It is brilliant to be home with my family and friends, although I feel like a huge gap is missing without Kimi being here with me. At least we have the incredibly bad quality of Skype to keep our lack of contact to a minimum. I forgot to mention that she bought me a fantastic camera for Christmas (this one), so there will hopefully be much higher quality pictures on here from now on. I had a go at using the macro mode and took this picture of a flower on some ivy in the garden (all of the colourful flowers are dead at this time of year). I am very impressed with it as no skill was involved and it managed to look like this:
Anyway, I have no idea where this post is heading so I should stop now. Happy last day of 2008 in the western world, and happy new year in China.