With the economy in shambles the amount of discount airline e-tickets purchased online is increasing, and it’s hard to imagine taking a trip void of some type of layover.  Now I’m not usually one to complain about these stops in Podunk, New York or Kansas City, Missouri when I’m on my way to Orlando, Florida, after all it’s all about the journey, not just the destination, right?  However, I was a bit put out when I learned itinerary for my trip to China.  Detroit to Phoenix to San Francisco to Hong Kong and finally arriving in Nanjing, China!  Whew, what a day…well days really. 

Despite nearly reaching zombie-stage by the time I arrived, there were definitely several perks of my great adventure to the East.  For one, I finally got to visit California.  Yes, I realize loitering in the San Francisco International Airport for five hours doesn’t exactly equate a proper visit, but it was definitely a cultural experience. 

This airport is intense!  With isle after isle of international aircraft carrier check in counters, it makes the experience of flying feel more like a trip to the global travel supermarket.  After looking up Cathay Pacific Airway on the LCD directory, I strolled to isle 8 when I encountered a massive sculpture of a woman, clad in silver and wearing an ornate hat displaying landmarks of California.  Although she was somewhat cold and intimidating, her posture conveyed a confidence and modern sensibility that fit perfectly with the streamline architecture of the entire airport.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Once I fumbled my way through security, I walked towards my gate, and soon began to wonder if I had left the United States already.  As a Caucasian woman, I certainly was a minority amongst the range of cultures swirling about the gate area.  Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and several other languages floated through the air at the airport convenience store where I picked up a quick snack in preparation for the 14-hour flight.

Taking the red eye was certainly an advantage to my sleep pattern.  I was able to get a full 6 hours despite the animated gentleman beside me, who watched Chinese game shows the entire flight, laughing boisterously every other minute. 

The Hong Kong International Airport also offered some tasty eye candy in terms of architecture.  It too had a modern, streamline appearance, but with several splashes of vibrant colors.  The area of connecting gates was a long pathway with each gate sectioned by it’s own color.  Beyond the teal seats of the waiting area one could see majestic mountains rising from the shoreline through 30-foot windows.  Upon boarding the DragonAir airline, passengers were encompassed with cool mist that floated from the plane’s vents acting as air conditioning.  Combined with relaxing music, it made the process of boarding, a somewhat irritating process regularly, very atmospheric and enjoyable.                                                                                             

The 2 and a half hour flight to Nanjing seemed like a breeze after the trans Pacific venture, and before I had finished asking my list of cultural queries to the kind local girl next to me, who spoke beautiful English, we had arrived in Nanjing.