Arriving in Nanjing on a full moon

My work arranged for me to fly to Nanjing to spend a week working my product development group. Our travel agent is a gem; you tell her your preferences and things magically happen. I was booked on China Eastern Airlines, which I’ve never flow before (apparently it’s a lower-cost option to China Airlines, which I enjoy flying). My driver showed up on time; we made it to Taoyuan Airport in less than an hour. The check-in was uneventful; my one bag (filled with clothes for the week and goodies from Taiwan for my Chinese co-workers) weighed 18.4k – amazing, no? (Guess I’ve learned to pack!) I found out my flight was delayed – oh well. I wasn’t sure who to contact in Nanjing (The travel agent had arranged a driver on that end for me as well); I hoped they would check the flight status.

At TPE airport, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Getting through immigration was a breeze. Then,  at customs (security) they spent a lot of time looking at my purse (I worried that they would take away my tuna sandwich and guava slices, but they didn’t) and then they pawed, literally through my entire purse, paying special attention to my umbrella and my wallet. Not sure why…NOTE: I was the only obvious foreigner in line. on the way to the departure gate, I exchanged NTD for RMB. It’s strange trying to keep up with how much everything costs. I am always trying to convert the foreign currency into USD to figure out if something is a good price or not.

Once in the empty waiting area (where is everyone?), I ate my snack and played a game online. Finally, we got onboard. As usual everyone was very orderly getting on board, and we were off! We flew on a A321 which was comfortable but I have say I could not eat the food we were served. I’m not sure if no vegetarian meal was ordered or available but we were served beef noodles, a white roll in plastic, something that looked like a catsup packet but felt more like bean sprouts, some dessicated fava beans, and a half a canned peach. The crew had no clue what I was asking for when I said wo bu cher rou (I don’t eat meat.). In the food department, CI has it all over China Eastern! In flight, there were no magazines in English.

When I got off the plane at Nanjing’s Lukou airport, I waited in line for customs, and when I finally got to the front,  I was told I needed to fill out an Arrival Card (usually this is done in-flight, but not here). After that, it was smooth sailing. I got my bag, found my driver (he had water waiting for me), and headed to the Jinling hotel.

On the drive, I tried to get some sense of Nanjing but at night, even with a full moon, it was difficult. One thing was for certain: the air quality really is BAD (when you can see the smog at night, you know you’re in for some difficult times breathing).

Welcome to Nanjing!

Nanjing traffic is very orderly, the faster cars honking at the slower ones to get out of the way. Tall trees lined the median and side of the freeway. I could see really tall buildings, all along the freeway, outlined with bright lights (apartment buildings?). Once we got off the freeway, we could have been in downtown LA, except for the signs in Chinese. Everything is modern, clean, brightly lit and I noticed a few familiar signs: Howdy CVS, Pizza Hut, McDonalds, and Cafe 85 (from Taipei).

The Jinling (named after the ancient term for Nanjing/Nanking) is a gorgeous building, the best hotel in town. I was graciously checked in and taken up to my room so that porter could show me how everything worked. The view at  night from my room is pretty amazing. I couldn’t hear the traffic but the lights are gorgeous!

I was able to figure out how to get online (many, many sites are blocked here in China). WordPress being one of them. I checked out the mini-bar – outrageous prices on Coke (3.00) and the  nuts were 6.00! Okay I broke down and had the nuts – they were packaged so cutely and after missing dinner, I was hungry.

Tomorrow I will attempt to make my way into the office (they say to take a taxi but i’m feeling brave….)

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…