Today I have been remembering my first trip to China. The trip came shortly after the Y2K crisis.
China was the last stop on a four week trip. At the time I lived in Missouri and the trip started with a flight to Chicago. From there I took off for Tokyo where I was scheduled for a short layover and then to continue on to Singapore.
However, my first stop after Chicago proved to be Anchorage, Alaska instead. We were several hours into the flight when an announcement came asking if a doctor or nurse was on the plane. A woman had spilled hot tea on her grandson and he had major burns that needed medical attention. After dumping fuel we landed in Anchorage so the little boy could be taken to a hospital and we refueled and continued on our way. When we landed in Tokyo I simply walked from one gate to the next and after a short wait to make sure bags were transferred we were in the air to Singapore. They had held the flight since there were many passengers who were connecting just like me.
After a training course in Singapore I was on my way to India for another course. After the course in India it was back to Singapore to connect to a flight to Shanghai.
In Shanghai I arrived at the older airport that is used today for mainly domestic flights. At the time the new Pudong airport had just opened. When I left I took off from the new airport.
I have some good memories of the trip to Shanghai. Every day I would be picked up at my hotel by the company shuttle and taken to the office. I still remember the sign in the shuttle that said “Don’t Forget to Carry Your Thing.” It made me wonder what was the Thing that I needed to remember to carry. Of course, a more accurate translation would be “Don’t Forget your Belongings.”
Another memory of the trip was visiting a Chinese Circus. A circus in China is not about animals, but is about humans performing. One of the acts that really intrigued me was a very flexible little acrobat. I don’t have a picture, but she was brought on stage in a duffel bag carried by another acrobat. He set the bag on the floor and it started moving around by itself. We eventually learned the contents of the bag and there was a gasp from the crowd.
I found these pictures while looking to see if I had taken some pictures at the dinner we had before the show. We had eaten at the Peace Hotel restaurant and we had a very interesting busboy serve us. The busboy was well over 7 feet tall and had to duck to go through the door of the room we were eating in. A few years later I read an article about a new Chinese basketball player in the NBA and found out that he had worked as a busboy at the Peace Hotel at that time while playing basketball for the Shanghai Sharks. If you haven’t already guessed, the player was Yao Ming.
I have since been back to Shanghai many times, and it is near the top of my list of favorite cities to visit.
However, some of my favorite memories were from that first trip.