The Springs on the day I left pre-snowstorm
I partially wrote this in John F. Kennedy airport, on the plane to Doha, and at Doha.
I don’t have much to talk about yet although the weather up to Denver was snowy and icy. It delayed morning flights but my flight took off with flying colors.
The security at JFK was stressful even though I wasn’t in a hurry. I had about a five hour layover but the lines filled two rooms and there were clearly people stressed and anxious. With that many bodies cramped together, it was uncomfortably hot and I happened to be behind someone who wore too much cologne. I knew this kind of cramped environment is something that I should get used to so I just browsed on my phone and took a few layers off.
It still feels unreal that I’m going on this trip. I’ve been planning it since August of 2016. In actuality though, the desire to visit Jiujiang has been something I’ve loosely held onto for quite a long time.
I’ve spent most of my time between graduation and now learning Chinese. I’ve used Duolingo and LingoDeer along with HSK flashcards and Pleco flashcards. All of which are free. Then I’d go on Reddit to the Chinese Language subreddit and read all the questions about grammar and sentence structures.
At first it was a chore but then it started to click and I was recognizing characters. I realized how much I was enjoying it when I was on the bus to Denver to see Call Me By Your Name (really good btw) and I was writing sentences in my notes using the PinYin keyboard. It was simple sentences like 我叫Laura (My name is Laura), 我是美国人 (I am American), 我想要录茶 (I want some green tea), 今天你在做什么 (What are you doing today?), 走吧 (Let’s go!).
From there I downloaded Chinese apps like WeChat and would read the equivalent of Buzzfeed articles or HelloTalk which connects me with Chinese users who are learning English and we can record messages or chat to each other. HelloChat has been fun since I’ve met someone who used to live in Jiujiang and they are giving me tips on what to do in the city. And I love watching YouTube videos of street food because I get to learn some of the conversational slang around food and ordering food plus it looks delicious. I’m far from good at Chinese though and really only know the basics.
I’ve also been reading Edward Said’s Orientalism. I’ve used excerpts of Orientalism before and read lots of scholars who reference, summarize, and analyze it but never read it in full. Orientalism is a “critique of the West’s historical, cultural, and political perceptions of the East.” Akin and related to anti-Blackness in the US, orientalist beliefs are pervasive and something that I experience in almost every aspect of my life. It was a deliberate choice because I know I am not immune to these orientalist beliefs and Othering my own people. So I read this with a hope to further understand my own epistemology about the East where I will be through most of this trip.
All the rest of the planning has been the packing and booking reservations. After all that, I would research things to do (I tend to prefer museums and walking around parks) and research some of current issues or events going on. All of this has helped keep my mind off of my nerves about the trip. I also played a lot of the Sims, unrelated to travel, but the Sims is addicting.
I haven’t told too many people (friends) about this trip. Partially because I am aware it’s an immense privilege to travel, also because I’m partially tired of hearing people use it as an excuse to comment on how weird the food is or question “if they really eat dogs over there”, but mostly because it’s so personal.
The most common question to this trip is: “Are you excited?” (Yes, most definitely), “Are you nervous?” (Maybe moreso than my excitement). It’s been hard to describe why I’m so nervous to people. I know exactly why I’m nervous but, it’s again, so personal and so deeply connected to my being racilized in the US, my exclusion within the Asian community, and this complicated transnational adoptee identity all of which is imaginably a little hard to sum up to people who probably can’t relate. I’m sure I’ll delve into this further, especially when I am in China, but this is just an overview of my thoughts.
Looking forward and plane stuff
I am excited to see my friends in Korea and Vietnam. I’m sitting on this plane to Doha next to a child (toddler? I’m bad at telling ages) and she cute, very chatty. It’s not terrible though, the mom is nice and the kid is just very playful. She keeps giving me her food, headphones, balloons, water, etc. as gifts. As far as kids go for an 11 hour flight, she’s pretty great, no temper tantrums! Update: she cried all through the landing but still not bad considering.
The food is good! I got Haagen Daz ice cream (not pictured). Along with the ice cream we got these mini square tomato basil sandwiches. I had a nice lunch meal. It was some cold ancient grains, fruit, water, green beans, carrots, rice, and this tomato/bean/mushroom dish.
The cabin is very nice. This is my first time flying Qatar Airways. They gave a nice selection of movies and TV. I am binge watching the second season of Blue Planet (the kid keeps pointing and saying “fish”).
They gave us a goodie bag with a toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, socks, and an eye mask. We also get blankets, a pillow, and headphones.
This was breakfast. A tomato omelette with hashbrowns, yogurt, fruit, orange juice, and a roll.
The airport is flashy. Surprisingly not the best wifi but has these men/women quiet rooms and the women’s is empty and it’s a nicebreak from the usual chatter of the airport. It’s also huge and kind of overwhelming because there’s a lot of people.
I’m ready to get to Indonesia which is my first stop. I won’t be arriving until 11pm so the next time I post, I’ll probably have actually done something besides sit on a plane!