John Edward Cooper’s Notes

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Friday 27 June 2014

[Thursday 26 June 2014]

4* The Landmark Hotel
[i]–09:50 Beijing–Shanghai
[ii]–17:25 Shanghai, Pu Dong Intl.–London Heathrow
Travelodge London Heathrow Central
[i] 07:35 on the e-ticket.
[ii] 14:00 on the e-ticket.
Day 16, Beijing to the UK (B)
Transfer to Beijing Airport for your flight to the UK

Day 178 2 Kings 7-8; Mark 8
Slept reasonably well despite the bad cold. Janet wrote: “I don’t think I slept at all. Not one wink.” The alarm clock was set, I think, for 3.30am.
[iii] Usually we have allowed two hours, but today we had to be up before they opened the breakfast room, so there was no need to allow time for that. I used the bathroom after Janet vacated it. I felt quite ill. Janet packed the last bits in the suitcases, and I the stuff in my rucksack. We were down in reception checking out ca.4.50am, in time to set off for the airport at 5.00am. I declined the breakfast box offered. The red sun was just up over the horizon as we travelled to the airport, still in our “Coach A” and “Coach B” divisions. One of our number got back on the bus to be taken to a different terminal for a different flight — think Steve accompanied him. Max was on hand during the luggage check-in, and handed out passport and two boarding cards each. Then we parted company. Janet kissed him and I shook his hand. Then there was the expected security check. Takeoff was scheduled for 07:35 but didn’t occur till 07:49, though we landed ahead of the scheduled 09:50 at 09:25. There was breakfast served on the flight: a sort of pinkish rice porridge with bits in it, virtually tasteless, a little “tub” of orange juice — and I can’t remember what. At Shanghai it was confusing as to where we should go, for we skipped luggage check-in, having already done it at Beijing. And we lost the others initially, because we went in the first loo that presented itself. We caught up with one or two others on the way to passport control. There was a large crowd there, though it was being quickly and efficiently dealt with. Janet bought four bottles of Pepsi Max, only to find that there was a further security check where liquids over 100ml were not allowed. The official, fluent in English, good-naturedly suggested that she open a bottle and drink before they were confiscated. And air-side, she bought four more, along with a travel pillow. We had quite a long wait, seated there at the boarding gate. A little after 1.30pm boarding started. On both flights we were seated on the left (as one faced the direction of travel), towards but still several rows from the rear, in two seats in a 2 + 4 + 2 configuration. Janet had the aisle seat and I the window. Takeoff was scheduled for 14:00 but didn’t occur till 14:31 (local time), though we landed ahead of the scheduled 20:25 at 19:44 (BST) — a flight of some 12¼ hours. On the first round of drinks that came by, I chose a can of Tsing Tao beer, which proved to be the full 4.3% a.b.v. version. I later chose a tomato juice. And water was offered on a regular basis. We were served with two meals on board: I chose chicken with rice, first; and pork with noodles, second. The first was OK: there was what I just said, piping hot, plus some cold vegetables, yoghurt, and a roll with butter. This last came with some sort of preserve, but when I opened it, in my opinion it smelt rank and I discarded it. It probably smelled the way it was supposed to. The second was less satisfactory: there was half a hard-boiled egg in with the noodles like some sliced-in-half eyeball, and there were fat pink “worms” (prawns) in the cold vegetables. I didn’t open the foil sachet of preserve. I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 approximately from where I left off on the outward flight, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2; and also listened to some Chinese orchestral music, a sort of east–west fusion with both western instruments and Chinese-sounding ones — and gongs and drums, etc. The folkmusic-like pentatonic scale reminded me of a Chinese Ralph Vaughan Williams — so “Larph Vaughan Wirriams”, perhaps. And Janet has the impression that I was asleep much of the flight. It nevertheless seemed a long, long time. At the baggage-claim carousel, I sat Janet down because she was so weary and worn out, and stood waiting myself. That was OK, because she did the final chatting and well-wishing with the others, and spared me most of that ordeal. There were anxious moments as many bags went round and round but not ours; but they did eventually appear. Passport control was done by placing the passport into a scanner and looking at a camera for the image-recognition software to operate. We found the taxi rank, the driver helpfully sat us in the cab and loaded the cases himself, and we were off the greater-than-it-seemed-on-the-map distance to the Travelodge hotel. Strange: one entered at the ground floor, but had to go up to the first floor for reception and check-in. The room was cold, but the heater/air-conditioner was easy to operate. I took medication but didn’t bother to brush teeth. Janet usually showers before bed, but didn’t tonight. My right hand was very swollen and tender. I used two pillows to keep my head elevated, and Janet’s second pillow under my feet. Getting elbows in a position where pressure on the inflamed part was minimised took a little bit of initial manoeuvring.

[iii] This was the impression that I had, but Janet’s record, written contemporaneously, says “3am” — both the night before (“I’ve set [the] alarm for 3am”), and today (“Up [at] 3am”). Normally, the alarm was set two hours before any departure time, to allow for getting ready and for breakfast, but I had the impression that we allowed only 1½ hours today because it would be before the breakfast room was open.

[Saturday 28 June 2014]

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