The electric charge of a change in the weather

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Shearwater – You As You Were

Fun facts gleaned from 20 total hours spread over two layovers spent in the Guangzhou International Airport:

  •   It’s winter in China. “Well, duh,” you are muttering, but I live in Malaysia and was visiting California. In my head, winter exists exclusively in movies and memories. I own exactly one pair of pants and zero coats. “So cold ah?” the lady behind me said as she rubbed my bare arm when we disembarked. I agreed. I’m fairly certain they don’t heat the airport.
  •   The Chinese do spacial courtesy differently. Indonesia is a physical, touch-heavy country, but this isn’t that. Personal bubbles are not respected — everyone keeps bumping into and crowding you. Attractive women press up against you in line until you feel you should at least buy them a drink first. The lady might have felt comfortable rubbing my arm because I helped her daughter put on her pink Dora the Explorer backpack or, more likely, because we were already shoved up against each other waiting to exit the plane.
  •   People don’t wait for the current inhabitants to exit an elevator when the doors open. Instead, they stream in and expect anyone who wants off to elbow his or her way out.
  •   There are no money changers in the airport.
  •   There are no drinking fountains.
  •   If you want to buy a bottle of water, it will cost you U.S. $5, roughly three times the price quoted in yuan (13). The cashier will hold your 10-dollar bill up to the light, presumably to make sure it isn’t a fake.
  •   Your other thirst-quenching option is to wade through the dense haze to the back of the smoking room. There, you can procure a paper cup the size of a shot glass and fill it with tepid water. Just a helpful tip: If you spend several hours battling the lingering smoke fog for those precious shots of warm water, your eyes will probably start to burn and tear up by the time you board your flight.
  •   It takes 7 minutes, 15 seconds to pad from one end of the international terminal to the other, and 9 minutes, 25 seconds if you go backwards, against the grain of the horizontalators. (The padding is due to my moccasins, which saved me from shivering and sure frostbite.)
  •   Along that 16:40 round-trip stretch there is exactly one bookstore. Sometime between Jan. 17 and Feb. 8, that book store sold exactly both its copies of Outliers: The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell.
  •   If, just as a for-instance, you happened to stand around reading the introduction to The Shack, trying and failing to get past William Paul Young’s nauseating simple-man schtick because both copies of Outliers are gone, and two ladies in uniform walk up and ask where you’re flying, you’ll never ever figure out why they wanted to know or why they looked sheepish and apologized when you told them, “Penang.”
  •   Joseph was right; in mainland China they pronounce the number two ‘Arrr’ as in pirates and not ‘Ur’ as in the Biblical location.
  •   Many signs advertise (in English) free WiFi, but it’s only half true. You must have a Chinese phone number to log on (I do not). However, if you overturn the small black rectangles on each table in Blenz Coffee, you will find a nine-digit numerical password for WiFi that works a considerable distance away.
  •   Both the front and back wheels of the complimentary mini-carts rotate, meaning you can push your bags sideways or whatever tilted manner you choose. I prefer to use a diagonal approach, because facing life straight on overwhelms me.

[Animal Joy.]

3 Responses to “The electric charge of a change in the weather”

  1. Zac says:

    You can listen to the entire album on NPR: It’s pretty fantastic.

  2. Required Name says:

    Are you saying the train rides in Japanese/Chinese pornography are non-fiction? Do the other passengers look passively and treat is as an everyday occurrence as well?

  3. Zac says:

    I didn’t ride in any trains.

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