Hang-en cave

Hang-en cave
(credit: National Geographic)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Into the West (so far I ended up East)

Well, not really. Most people (including me last year) expect to fly over the Pacific to get to China. Instead, we actually flew over Canada and Russia.

I woke up around 3:30am CT on May 19th and landed at 2am CT on May 20th--crazy. I left my apartment at 5:30 with a really cheerful taxi driver who had a lot of opinions on WPR's report on nursing homes 'dumping' of residents and the comparison of Switzerland's minimum wage vs. the United States'. He got me thinking a lot about where it's appropriate for the government to get involved and when to let the market take over (isn't that the question of every politician ever?) but it'll be interesting to compare the US with China in that respect. China is an interesting amalgam of political communism--the official governing body is the Communist Party of China, which is written into the Constitution of the People's Republic of China--and economic capitalism, allowing for the formation of institutions where the government has little to no power.

The problem with flying to China, at least for me, is that I can't sleep on planes, but my eyes get too tired to read. So, instead, I made use of my incredible ability to binge-watch movies and caught up on some that I'd never seen. They seriously shouldn't make such a good selection available if they want anyone to sleep on a fourteen-hour flight.

When we landed, I booked it through customs and immigration to try and find my coworker, who'd landed an hour earlier. One thing that I'm not sure I've noticed in any other country is the awareness of illness: there's a list of symptoms that might prohibit you from entering the country. And public health enemy #1 right now? The Ebola virus. Given China's track record with dealing with infectious disease outbreaks (SARS, random zoonotic flus) though, I'm not too worried. There was an actual horde of people waiting for arrivals--they formed a maze that went almost to the exit before I could break through.

We got to our hotel around 5:30 last night and spent a little bit of time setting up base camp, then wandered off to the grocery store to find some snacks--nothing too exciting, though (mostly ice cream!).

Today we'll have a pretty relaxed morning scoping out restaurants and hospital sites for the students and running some errands. Then the students land and the fun begins!

It's good to be back.


Students: 14, currently en route and arriving tomorrow!
Pictures: 0 so far. I had my camera body with me on the plane, but I packed my lenses (yes, plural!!!) in my luggage.
Movies: Her, Gravity, The Great Gatsby, Forrest Gump, Lincoln (I can't sleep on planes...how many movies is it socially acceptable to watch in a row?)

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