I am back in the Philippines. Will resume blogging and bitching as soon as I recover from jet lag.
Two things I learned:
1) Delta airlines proves that airplane food doesn't have to be lousy. I actually enjoyed my trip to the USA with them.
2) never Never NEVER travel through Shanghai.
Not only do they lack signs to find out where you are in English (or French or German or any other language that I could decipher), but when you ask for directions, you are often given wrong information even when you do find someone who speaks the language such as in the "information" booths. And no airport maps on the wall to guide you either.
(update: There are two airports in Shanghai: I traveled through the Pudong on the way to the USA, and that airport was only mildly frustrating.)
I was traveling with my granddaughter, who studied a year of Mandarin in high school but gave up on that language, alas, and switched to French. So she couldn't help much there.
the only thing good: they have a transit lounge so you can sit or lay down when you have 12 hour layovers. It only took us four inquiries and 35 minutes to find the place.
Even though you are not leaving the airport, you have to get a "temporary" visa, because they wouldn't give us our ticket for the connecting flight to Manila when we checked in: We had to go downstairs and pick it up there, meaning leaving the secure area to do so. As a result, we were screened four times by airport security, twice including fingerprints and photographs.
Heh. They can add that information to my federal OPM personnel file that was hacked a couple of years ago by Chinese hackers.
Oh yes: the Great Firewall of China is alive and well...a lot of internet sites are blocked, including many blogs and Facebook. Poor Ruby couldn't talk with her facebook friends and I couldn't read several news sites and blogs.
But they didn't block Free Republic (guess they weren't worried about the Great Right Wing conspiracy or the opinions of the deplorables) nor did they block my RSS aggregator site, so I could read the headlines for the blogs and news sites that I usually read at those places.
the bad news? Nothing new to read anyway.
as for other airports: the upgrades in Manila really improved that airport.
There is a a new innovation for airport lines: instead of four or five lines, you get in a long long line and wait your turn.
Usually this is just a voluntary line, with a nice young lady keeping an eye on you, like your first grade teacher keeping the kids in line for the lunch room.
But some airports even have barriers to make sure no one jumps in line in front of you, so you have to walk around and around and around even when no one is in line.
So all those new age nuns who are promoting "walking the labyrinth" as a spiritual exercize to find peace and spiritual highs don't have to go to exotic places to do this: They can do there meditations waiting in line in Vancouver airport.
the visit with my son was great, however, and my granddaugher who I picked up for the trip home is now a young lady. Sigh. They grow up so quickly.