A Tronkie Travellogue
Day 21: En Route (Beijing, China - Manhattan, KS)
Beijing International Airport - one of my usual "farewell" snapshots.
Click any image to enlarge.
(The title was going to be "Night Flight Across the Caucasus", but we didn't actually cross the Caucasus - just Siberia.)
China, all the way to
All the way to New York
I can feel the distance getting close
You're right next to me
But I need an airplane
I can feel the distance as you breathe
Sometimes I think you want me to touch you
How can I when you build a great wall around you
In your eyes I saw a future together
You just look away in the distance
-"China", Tori Amos
As I arise on this, our last day in Beijing, I hear everyone bidding my grandmother goodbye. I hurry up to take breakfast with her and see her to the minibus as Xiaotian makes ready to take her to the airport.
Left: My aunt Shen-Ling, my Fourth Aunt and Banamum say goodbye to my Second Aunt and grandmother, seated in the minibus.
Right: JJ stands in the yard, wagging goodbye. He seems to realize somehow that people are going home.
Going back in, I espy:
Left: A bottle of Wahaha brand water with a photograph of Lee-Hom Wang (Wang Lihong) on the cover. Lee-Hom and my cousin Emily were classmates and friends in Rochester, NY, and my cousin Melody has been a longtime fan, so this was quite amusing to see.
Right: "Let me take his water, Muad'dib!" Well, no, you wouldn't see any Arrakeen celebrity endorsements or brands of water.
Jen's handiwork, small emblems denoting members of the family: her lucky number, a dumpling and taro root dessert for her mom, a Dance Dance Revolution pad for her dad, etc. Not pictured is a pair of mah jongg tiles for our grandmother.
Morning: DVD shopping
At last, I go DVD shopping. It's not much different from going into a video store in the USA, except that when the police come by, there isn't a giant bonfire and customers don't get shoved into the store as a big metal door gets slammed down (this really happened to my cousins at a leather goods store).
Yes, a little thrush told me that might be some bootlegs (quelle surprise) about...
Left: Why the shop has most of its DVD racks behind a big heavy iron door.
Right: I came across this fairly convincing counterfeit of the Special Extended Edition DVDs of ROTK, in a replica of the New Line box. Oh, but you see, it's from the Paltinum Series.
I wasn't surprised to see Cars and X-Men 3: The Last Stand on the shelf, but the boxed sets of Lost Seasons 1-2, Smallville Season 5 and Charmed Season 8 surprised me, and the one of Serenity was just funny. I almost bought the Serenity bootleg just to see what the subtitles would be like.
Yes, I did get The Backstroke of the West, or something similar thereto. You know I was just made by the Presbyterian Church.
Early afternoon: getting ready to go
And so we head back to the house and grab a quick lunch for the road. Fourth aunt and her husband, Uncle Lu, helped us pack last night, but my aunt Shen-Ling stuffs our suitcases to brimming with goodies: pastries, snacks, and sandwiches enough for a trip to Mordor and back. I weigh myself (163 pounds) and two of the suitcases come out to 215 - a tad bit over the limit of 50 pounds. We do some shuffling around and everything comes up 46 pounds or lower.
Cynthia hugs me five times before I get in the minivan, and I invite her to come to America - I'll see her in Cali if not Kansas, I hope.
My cousin Cynthia with her teddy bear of many colors.
Movies on a Plane
On the flight, I set a new personal record of five movies watched:
- Something New - 7.5 / 10. A little predictable and cliche in some places, but it rings true, and it deals with an important subject: to wit, interracial couples featuring an upwardly-mobile young professional with someone who has a different take on life.
- Big Momma's House 2 - 5.5 / 10. *sob* It's funny! OK, I didn't really watch the whole thing through again - just about 20 minutes' worth. The rest of the time I talked about important things with Banamum.
- Last Holiday - 8 / 10. You should see this movie for the food alone! It's sweet and funny. Roeper and Ebert gave it two thumbs up as a feel-good post-holiday movie, and I concur. Queen Latifah stars as a humble housewares sales associate working in a Sears-like department store, who is diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor. Unable to afford the surgery, she liquidates her life savings and splurges on that vacation she's always dreamed of. God isn't done with her yet, though...
- The Perfect Man - 7 / 10. Whaaaat? I was bored! Quit laughing! Jen and Cynthia couldn't get me to watch this with them, but I had no place to go on the plane, and as you may know, I can't sleep sitting up. Heather Locklear plays Hilary Duff's mother, a divorcee with two young daughters who runs from every relationship and seems to have an affinity for perennially doomed ones. An optimistic yet not entirely predictable romantic comedy.
- The Pink Panther - 6.5 / 10. Let's ve put it this way: it was funnier than I expected of a Pink Panther movie, but not as funny as I've come to expect of Steve Martin. But come on, it's Steve Martin! The film is cutely funny, paced a little slow at times, and full of slapstick if you like that sort of thing. The "surprise" ending is just too stupid for words, but that's part of the Pink Panther's charm: humor so atrocious you can't help but laugh.