I dont think I’ll ever forget the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Chengdu on Air Asia (KUL to CTU flight D72626), only for the reason that it was my first real introduction to what was in front of me. And the fact that, for me at least, I was about to enter a new world.
I dont know how many people fit on an Airbus a330-300 but it’s a lot, and out of all those people I was the only westerner, nothing like being the odd one out! Otherwise the flight was like any other and took off smoothly, until the seat belt light went out…thats when I got my first ‘welcome to china’ moment….
As soon as that light went out the plane turned into a flying chinese festival, people started moving around forming little groups and engaging in lively conversation (of course, Ive got no idea what anyone was talking about…), packets of food started coming out from everywhere and for the remainder of the flight I was immersed in the smell of asian kitchen, whilst listening to the constant crunch, munch and slurping of food in between an array of vocal tones I’d never heard before..
Strangely, I never felt uncomfortable, not even out of place, more amused at discovering how incredibly social these people are… and how they love eating…
Air Asia might be a no frills economy service but it is a five star version of that genre. The plane was again not very old, if not new, it was clean and the entire flight from take off to landing was as smooth as silk.
I wondered about the entering the airport and going through Chinese customs and how much tougher it would be than Australia. Particularly after watching TV shows like ‘Border Security’ I wondered…hmmmmm…i get dragged off and interrogated…will I be sniffed by dogs..searched for any banned books or media. I lined up with everyone else, and got to the checkpoint, handed over my passport and entry card which you are given on the flight and waited…
Stamp, stamp and and straight through I went with the customs official even managing to give a smile. Try and get one of those at an Australian customs.
But perhaps he was grinning at the way I was dressed (shorts and t-shirt in a place where the temperature was about 6 degrees!)….