According to the theory of relativity, if I travel at high speed, time slows down relative to someone standing still. So it follows that while I have aged over the last 48 hours, I haven’t aged as much as you. However, 26 hours on a plane just isn’t worth the small amount of youth I may have accumulated. No matter how many movies there are to watch, flying long-haul is a chore. Perhaps more disconcerting on long haul flights is the volume of entertainment. Despite my best attempts, not one person sitting next to me wanted to chat. The headphones went on, buttons were pushed and a world of solitude descended. There must have been 300 people on board and hardly a word was heard. It says something disturbing about us as social creatures. Mindu, in fairness, I’m not sure the two people I encountered spoke English and my Mandarin and German are non-existent.
A friend once said that her faith in aircraft was directly proportional to its size. I get that. However, this week Japan Airlines grounded their entire fleet of 787 Dreamliners due to cracks in the engine turbine blades (or something like that). Air New Zealand operates the exact same model plane with the same engines and didn’t see a need to. They had an “appropriate service plan” in place. I was kind of hoping there would be an “Appropriate rescue plan” too. The 787 is latest in composite technology with amazing fuel efficiency and comfort. In lay terms it’s a Tupperware container with enourmous hair dryers dangling from plastic wings, holding 100,000 litres of flammable aviation fuel while hurtling through the sky at a shade short of 1000km/hr. Every time the thing juddered in turbulence all I could think of was the 4 bolts holding the wings on.
I have never landed in China before so Shanghai was a first for me. As we dropped out of the sky the pilot informed us that the sky was clear and it was a pleasant 33 degrees. The sky’s may well have been clear, but there was little to see through the smog. The whole region has a yellowish glow as the light refracts against the pollution. Shanghai also boasts possibly the longest terminal I’ve seen. It was a 1.2km walk from the arrival gate to the departure lounge. Then there’s the security, which is pretty high at the moment. I managed to set the alarms off in the metal detector resulting in a tiny female security guard bellowing for a male guard to come and frisk the “big man”. And a frisk it was. I got the quick once over with Harry Potter’s wand, and then it was an a full-on Chinese massage – and it was free. I then played a game of charades with a waitress at a small cafe to order water and food. I thought it was funny, but apparently it wasn’t.
So, despite Jane wondering if I might die on the trip over, it seems through the grace of God and the use composite materials I have arrived in one piece. Once the jetlag is under control my Cathedral journey will begin. My first task is visit two entirely different ministries: St Paul’s Cathedral and Holy Trinity Brompton.