The flight from Okinawa to Shanghai is delayed but no problem I have a 3 hour layover. When I try to transfer to the Paris flight in Shanghai things start to fall apart. “The flight is delayed! Go to desk F! Go through Immigration! Get transfer stamp in passport! Fill in landing form!”
Thank God for the English language. Despite the fact that people in Chinese airports speak in the imperative, at least I understand what is on the critical path. I feel for Japanese visiting Europe or the US. What are the chances of airport staff speaking Japanese?
However we are not in Japan now. At the check in desk chaos reigns as groups of people walk to the front of the line and demand attention. We eventually learn that the flight has been delayed to the next day and there is a maelstrom of angry Chinese and French wanting satisfaction. These are two cultures not noted for their patience and equanimity and the resultant atmosphere is bad and deeply offensive to my osmosed Japanese sensibilities. We need a hotel voucher – people push, shove, shout at each other. Long wait until bus arrives whereupon people run to get on first and snarl.
We drive into Shanghai and fight each other at the hotel reception to get rooms.
Anyway we get a meal and I go for a stroll. This is fun. Midnight in who knows where in Shanghai. People eating, hanging out and buying fruit.
At 4:00 the phone rings but no one speaks. I take it to mean, “Get down here!” Bus leaves at 5:00 and we are back in the airport. There are a bunch of people by a desk and in my state of paranoia I am magnetically drawn. They are giving out 400 huan in cash if you show them your boarding pass. Very nice thanks.
This is enough to buy a liter of Ardbeg that has miraculously found its way from Islay to an obscure corner of Shanghai airport. I realize just in time that you can no longer buy liquids in mid journey as they will be taken from you at the next security check. The image of having to hand over a liter of Ardbeg makes me shiver.
The flight finally takes off at 7:00ish. I am in seat 69 J. I have missed my connection in Paris.
Not sure if East China Airlines are a future option. Maybe the food will be good.