I came back this week from a working trip in Shanghai. This was my second time in China. It is always a challenge to travel there since I don’t speak a word of chinese and it is rare to find someone who speaks understandable english. Or, I should say, an english that I can understand. I completed the work tasks I had planned to accomplish before my departure. The outcome was not always exactly what I expected...
Beside meeting with a French civil-engineer, who has his office in Shanghai, I worked with Ralph Brancaccio to finalize and produce a catalog of his manhole cover prints. That part went well since we came back with 564 beautiful catalogs in our suitcases.
This is the reason my carryon was 22 kilos of luggage over the Air France weight limits. I had to deal with that at the airport. They asked me to pay 39,51 USD by kilo because I was doing it at the airport (it would have cost 138,29 USD for every 5 kilos if I prepaid it at home on the Internet). The total cost they wanted me to pay was 869,22 USD. I try to discuss with them, but trying to speak about this in China is like asking what they think about democracy. They don’t understand the word and after you explain it, then they tell you that they live in a democratic system. Yeah right.
Then, they told me that I could use my miles to pay for it. The big favor they could do, was to only charge for 20 kilos. And take 6000 miles for every 5 kilos. I accepted to pay 24000 miles, because I had no choice. During all of this conversation, at the next counter, a gentleman was also checking in. I was looking at him and his “personal” over-weight. He must have weighed a minimum of 130 kilos. I weight 71 kg for 1,86 m. Yeah I know....that should give me at least 50 kilos of free luggage NO? I did not dare to say that to the woman checking me in. But I think airlines companies do not consider their costumers the way they should.
- who travels with a scale? How can you figure out the weight of your suitcase before heading to the airport? The sites that helps you to calculate the suitcase’s weight are not helping if you carry other stuff than the “classic” stuff (clothes).
- 30 kilos per passengers is not enough. Why wouldn’t they consider the weight I did not use when I traveled without checked in luggage and give me a credit for it on another flight?
- Airlines companies have to stop the “we are doing you a favor” attitude when the plane ticket are not getting cheaper and the seat is not getting any bigger. I can go on about this one.
The last thing I had plan to do was to print stickers to send to you, my readers and commenters of this blog. Last year, I ordered tee-shirts to give away. Every person who got one loved them, so this year I wanted to do something different. Ralph Brancaccio designed the stickers. The result was exactly what I wanted. They were printed correctly, but unfortunately the printer did not put the protective coating to prevent the ink from running. As soon as I put the first one on my computer, the color run on my fingers and stained the computer top. It was unacceptable. I called the printer and return them. They had no time to fix this problem before I left so I came back without them. Sorry about that.
I took two days to do some site seeing. Walked a lot in the streets of Shanghai trying to find what was left from the 20‘s when the europeans were there. Not much was left from that period. A lot of streets still kept the mark of the French presence with the planetrees along the sidewalk. One old chinese man told me while I was sitting in the park that the trees were brought there by the french.
The modern side of the city is amazing. Full of energy which carries you and lets you feel that any thing is possible. Not as much as New York though.
I spoke with a young girl who works in the gallery that represents Ralph’s work. She is about 24 years old and I asked her what Mao Zedong represent for her. After being surprise I knew who he was, she simply answered: “He is our Leader”. That did not surprise me knowing that Mao’s cult of personality would still have a strong impact on every generations.
The food that I ate was always excellent. It is easy to find interesting places with well designed interiors that offer well thought out local menus or more international fusion cooking. I do avoid street food or the tiny local restaurants to keep my stomach happy. As a vegetarian, I found two very delicious veggie places, where I could rest assured that there would not be meat in any of the exotic dishes and certainly not dog meat, one of my favorite jokes.