Welcome back to the land of science fiction

Location: Shanghai

I really didn’t intend to go to Japan twice this year. It just sort of worked out that way. Certainly after the enjoyable trip in the spring, I felt that I would like to return some day, but with so many places in Asia to see, and only two years left on my China stint, it seemed a poor use of time and resources to revisit any place I’ve already seen.

But then I got to thinking about the World Science Fiction Convention being in Yokohama. A WorldCon is a pretty special event, and one in Asia (the first) was bound to be even better. So – what the heck? – open the door when the Big O knocks.

One of the slogans of this convention is “Welcome to the world of SF!” Which of course has more than one meaning in the situation. Obviously, the WorldCon in itself constitutes a big chunk of the world of science fiction as a phenomenon, but in addition, Japan is in many ways a land of science fiction. All you have to do is look at some of the pictures from Tokyo and you know much of the city is very futuristic.

Given the timing of this trip, I decided to eliminate more fowl and go by way of Shanghai. The airfare was about the same price even considering the extra leg. So let’s travel back in time briefly to fill in the back story.

Since I was leaving on a domestic flight, I got to see a part of the Beijing Capital Airport that I hadn’t seen before. It’s the older terminal.
Probably in part because the growth in China travel has outstripped the construction of the airport improvements, Beijing finds itself with more flights than it has gates for. I got to my gate, and discovered that Gate 25 is not one gate, but seven.
You go across a walkway to a little mini-terminal, where each gate 25A-H has a shuttle bus stop. They scan your boarding pass, and you get onto a bus that treks out across the tarmac – halfway to Tianjin it seemed.
We passed a number of other planes spaced nicely apart, including this one:
I don’t know what American diplomat was in town.

I imagine this kind of departure could be pretty unpleasant at other times of the year.
I arrived at Shanghai Pudong International Airport without incident.
I noticed this sign while waiting for my bag.
At the airport I boarded Shanghai’s maglev train
and was swooshed away at
301 kilometers an hour towards downtown. Too bad it was after dark – I would have loved to get some pictures out the window.

I transferred to the Shanghai Metro to get downtown to my hotel. I was going the budget route this time, and stayed at a hotel that doesn’t cater much to foreigners (though they did have the proper forms on hand and spoke a little English at the desk). I hooked up the laptop to check my email, and ended up doing work remotely until well after midnight.
To be continued, as it’s after midnight again.

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