Friday, July 28, 2006

final China and other stuff (repost)

Reposted, these are the final final thoughts on China from the May 2006 trip.


These are the last couple notes from China, along with an oddity at the bottom that I stumbled across yesterday. Most of these observations were made in the Beijing airport while I was waiting for the flight to be rescheduled -- more notes on that once in-text.

- First, I really question the intelligence of barring alcohol in carry-ons when, past security, people can buy whatever duty-free booze they want, and take it on the aircraft by hand. It's kind of pointless.

- On a similar note, people should be required to be able to lift their carry-on baggage over their heads with one hand; it seems like everyone is taking an extra suitcase, most of which have wheels, as a "carry-on". If you cannot "carry" it, it is not a "carry-on", it is a "drag-around" and should have been checked with your other stuff. Of course, this wouldn't be necessary if airlines didn't lose people's stuff with such annoying regularity.

- There was obviously some kind of international competition in Beijing recently, because a Russian team was flying back to Moscow shortly before our flight left. No idea what it was or how they did, but if it was the International Hottie trials, they obviously won. I mean, WOW.

- The plane was delayed two and a half hours due to an unspecified problem with the #2 engine. A 747 can fly just fine on 3 engines, but ofcourse would rather only do so when absolutely necessary. While we were deplaning to pick up the new ship, one of the attendants was over heard as "you know, that's exactly what this is: a Chinese fire drill." This is why racist statements survive, so that they can be used ironically for lulz in non-racist situations.

- Someday, I am actually going to buy some icewine, just to see what the hell it is. If you don't fly, you've probably never heard of this; it's supposed to be this ridiculously sweet dessert wine made from grapes allowed to freeze on the vine in Canada, and appears to be available exclusively through air travel. I don't even drink wine, but my inherited Sehnsucht after novelty compels me to seek it out.

- I did get James his Macallan. I did not, though, get any of the 53-percent Chinese hooch being sold in what seriously looked like plastic bottles in the same shop, because there's curious, and then there's just stupid. As a general rule, any liquor being sold in a plastic bottle is probably not worth drinking.

- At the Friendship Restaurant where we ate between the Ming Tombs and Great Wall (mediocre food, I had much better in just local restaurants in the Beijing area, but that's understandable as it's a gigantic barn of a place), they had this afterdinner drink laid out that checked in at 112 proof. It reminded me of a more aggressive Malteser and really lit up the underside of my tongue. No idea on composition or source materials; even if I could read Chinese, it probably wouldn't've made much difference, because I am the sort who does not question much when bottles are labeled Drink Me.

- Unnerving bangs aside, taking off is my favorite part of flying. Engineering and physics go mano-a-mano, and if our WTF HAX work, the hundred-ton-plus ship jumps into the air. We tend to take flight for granted, but it's been barely a hundred years since we first figured out, as a species, how to make heavy things go up into the sky and not immediately fall down.

- Seeing the Great Wall from the air was cool, though I don't know if you'd really be able to see it from space. Our tour guide on the Great Wall trip said that a Chinese taikonaut had recently confirmed this, but he also said, at other points, that Peking Man had coexisted with dinosaurs, and that China's socialist era began in 1911.

- Somehow, the music choices on this flight managed to be worse than listening to the dead air of the cabin. I had no idea, having seceded from popular culture several years ago, that American popular music was so dominated by the actively horrible. I mean, this stuff is going out of its way to suck.

This is more or less it for the present; there is a situation in Germany developing that, if it gets worse, may mean that I go back, and then two new tools in size Small (I can't mention system names or capabilities for obvious reasons, but the "new tool" is currently available in Medium, with the first Large shipping this month, the Smalls coming online later this summer, and then Extra-Large probably by the end of the year) to Maine and Tienjin, fortunately after Wacken. And Ozzfest is probably out of the question, as on the next day I have to be on a plane to Germany for a much larger and better festival. It's still technically possible, but I need to check my flight times, and Sounds of the Underground sounds like a much better show anyways.

That tidbit mentioned above is finally reached here. Scroll down to "further trivia". Neat, huh?

No comments: