It turns out that travelling from Edinburgh to South China across two flights and twenty-four hours is a bit of an ask. Booking was the easy part; also easy was deciding that a 4:30am start was absolutely fine. “We can sleep on the plane,” we said. Ha haa. My tone might betray an element of hindsight, since I’m writing this from our Guangzhou hostel room in the afternoon of our first day and we. Are. Shattered.

The early start was alright – I was late (of course I was), which only served to fray certain tempers – but we were all fairly chipper reaching the airport, going through security, enjoying the duty free… I dozed to Helsinki, at which I whiled away the hours to our second leg studiously making the most of Messenger and the like before crossing over the Great FireWall™.

Our flight to Guangzhou itself was slow and timeless, in the sense that I found it difficult to tell how long we’d been going and how much time we had left, despite the live map and stats screen not two metres in front of me. Day and night became an arbitrary concept interjected only by food trolleys and apparent only through the windows, which I couldn’t even see (let alone see through) from my centre-of-central-aisle seat.

The nine-ish (apparently) hours passed in a frankly boring and uncomfortable stasis somewhere between sleep and waking, nearly finishing a couple of films on the entertainment system and reading half a book. It didn’t take the three of us long to wrap ourselves in blankets (provided) and see how far we could stretch our legs under the next seat (verdict: not far enough). Turbulence was minimal. We touched down to a damp mid-morning cityscape which was surprisingly warm – although I remember that impression from Beijing, albeit sunnier, three years ago.

The airport was quiet and quite sleepy – unless that was just us – and apart from the fingerprint scanners refusing to recognise Kirsten’s print, customs let us through without issue. Our bags arrived and we managed to get ourselves three-day metro passes with only limited difficulty – the man spoke first to us in English so I wimped out of using Chinese. As Evie pointed out, I need to be strict and force myself to try. It helps that I know much more than last time, though that’s not saying much!

And we’re in! I’m back! I can barely express (or properly process in my current state) how exciting this is, after nearly a year of planning and waiting. I’m intending to write one post per place we visit, potentially with a few others dotted along the way, so watch this space for updates!

Enjoying the plane blankets

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