I faced 22 hours of travel to get home from Xi’an, starting with getting on a bus at the hotel in Xi’an. I wasn’t willing to waste nearly a full day for this traveling, so I finished 10 hours later at 7:35pm. I like to think I’m a pretty efficient guy! ;)
It’s always best when a long day of travel is uneventful, and this day (10 hours) lived up to that. I made all my connections with lots of time, no issues with security…a good day to fly halfway around the globe.
The first leg of my journey was with one of the Australian couples from the tour – they were with me as far as Beijing. Wayne and Kerry are really nice people who were a pleasure to travel with. I was impressed with Wayne’s honesty as we waited to board our first flight. He explained that a lot of Australians have ingrained racism, and resent the flood of Asians who have immigrated to their country. As a result, there is a common perception that Asians are lazy and are trying to take advantage of Australian social benefits. (I got stuck in an earlier conversation with another Aussie who exemplified the mindset Wayne was articulating.) Wayne followed up with: “Now that I’ve seen this country, I don’t believe that for a moment. These are smart people! They work hard, and they are so advanced with their architecture and technology. So nice, too.” Wayne isn’t young, and – based on my exposure to other folks his age – it’d be no surprise if he had some discomfort with the changing face of his world. I was really impressed that notwithstanding a lifetime of potential preconceptions, he was able to see things for how they are, and do away with the vestiges of racism. For me, this kind of positive reinforcement bodes well. (Forgive the philosophizing….it’s a strenuous mental effort to condense 22 hours into 10!)
Given the extremely limited food options past the security check, I had Pizza Hut for dinner in the Beijing airport. With the modern face of China, this is Chinese food. It reminded me that much as I have loved this adventure, there are familiar things I will relish upon my return. (Pizza Hut isn’t actually one of them.)