Date: Thursday 30th July
Location: Dubai airport
Local time: 3AM
We are in a place where one feels the mugginess of the air that aircon fails to disguise. Its like any large airport, but many details such as the wide cyclindrical columns, noticeboards and railings, look like they’ve been covered in tin foil, the shiny side facing outwards. Dubai boasts one of the largest airports in the world, but we enjoyed a brief layover and waiting time. There are artificial waterfalls in each terminal, which seemed impressive when spoken of, but less so in reality. The construct consisted of a vast, black board, standing almost 180 degress but not quite, to allow a thin veil of water to pour onto it. A few lights of varying colours shone, but nothing very special.
Everything is ridiculously expensive. Cafés charge £4 for a cup of tea, £9 for a beer, £3 for a croissant.
I am typing this on the plane now. This is flight number two from Dubai to Shanghai. The plane is huge, with rows stretching back into the 80s, if not 90s. Later I learn that the vessel we fly on is the A380, the biggest plane in the world. Walking past empty sections of cabin, I appear to be one of the first on board. Now I have the greatest pleasure of watching everyone squeezing into the plane. First, a wave of Chinese people, talking in a dialect I cannot understand, most likely Shanghai-ese. Then my folk trickle in, some carrying cellos and things, which qualify for their own passenger seat.
And I asked the guys in the photo below why they blocked themselves from aisle? To my delight, I was right to question, for soon they were asked the flight attendants to rearrange the seating for emergency purposes.
We are flying with Emirates and I like it. In economoy, each seat is supplied with nighttime goodies zipped in an Emirates pocket and a drinks holder on the back of our fold up table of rather intelligent design. A rotating internal hoop is hinged within holder, enabling you to store your drink upright and not at risk of spilling. So smart; so simple. Other details I like include the gradual dimmed tinted cabin lights, and the faux-wood panelling outlining each window, and decorating the bathrooms. I wonder what it is like in First Class? Palace? Free manicures? One hopes.
Things are beginning to feel real now. I think it’s once you notice that most of the passengers around you are flying home.
We passed immigration quicker than expected and found ourselves sitting beside our baggage carousel. The shiny faux marble floors have been polished to a icy sheen, like the surface of a curling stone. We touched down at 3:30, stepped into the bus at 5:10 onwards to dinner.
Shanghai = giant metropolis. Ominous buildings, towering pylons dominate the East side.
Now I am about to collapse on my keyboard. We have a concert tomorrow in Shanghai Grand Theatre. Goodnight.