|Okay, so I lied. I did have something interesting happen on the plane. I got to the airport with no problems, but they would not give me my connecting flight’s boarding pass. For whatever reason, they said that I must get my luggage and then check back in. While I was not worried about the time, I thought this was odd. When I arrived at Jinan, the halfway point to Changchun in the Northeast of China, I did get my luggage and recheck in. I accidentally told the woman at the desk I was going to Chongqing….instead of Changchun. Slight slip of the tongue but that could have been disastrous. Chongqing is in the southern middle of China. Whoops.
So I got in line for the passport check and it was a massive line at such a small airport. There were only 16 gates and only 11 were actually in use. I got all the way to the front of the line and they told me that they had to search my luggage. I had nothing in there so I said sure. So I went back to the counter and talked to 3 separate people before it was determined that my luggage was indeed one of the ones that needed to be searched. After a quick walk behind the counter, we opened my bag and they asked about my shaving cream. Apparently the pressurized can set off the Chinese Baggage X-ray alarm. 30 seconds and I was out of there. Now, the question was….do I cut the enormous line or do I just get in the back of 30 people. I decided to get back in line. I didn’t need 500 Chinese people angry at me for cutting. The Chinese are good at waiting in line……it is only the Japanese OUTSIDE of Japan (as I was told) that they cut all the time. So I waited for 10 minutes and the security agent saw me and waived me forward. She said I did not have to wait in the whole line again. Now, you may ask…how did she recognize me? I was maybe one of 3 laowai….white foreigners….in the whole airport. She then explained to the whole line why I was cutting (in Chinese) and then off I went. I then had to get searched at security and nearly angered the woman searching me. Yes, I said woman. Apparently, it does not matter in China that a man searches a man and a woman searches a woman. This woman was waiving her hands and wand all over the place. It was a bit disconcerting. Then she wanted to check my shoes and my feet. I took off my shoes and started to get up so she could check my feet and she told me to sit down. Whoops!
After getting through security, I realized (and not too worried about it) that I was really a minority in this place. If you have never gone outside of the USA, Canada, and Europe and you are white, you really do not know what it is like. On both flights I was the only foreigner and when I met my buddy Hansi (lives in College Park, MD) at the gate, he said he actually saw one other westerner and for this area of China that is a rarity. Makes me wonder what our trip to his dad’s village will be like. I will probably be one of the very few white westerners that have visited this area to stay. Should be fun!