We’re on our way to Similans, through Khao Lak, via Phuket, by way of Shenzhen. This is our first time flying Hainan Airlines, which started a new Boston-Beijing route last year. Some observations:

  1. Only one of the three meals contained an actual entrée. Of the other two, one was half of a ham-and-cheese sandwich, and the other a dinner roll with the usual salad and dessert trappings.
  2. The inside of the plane is decorated almost entirely in red: logo, carpet, seats … It felt like the color choice was consciously symbolic, but oddly anachronistic.
  3. Many, many announcements, in two languages and sometimes very long, mostly to remind people to keep seat belts on throughout taxi’ing and the course of the flight. Chewie’s 7-movie marathon was very disjointed as a result.
  4. Flight attendants were checking things very carefully: cell phones off, shoes on. Blanket underneath the seat belts, used cups in seat pouch.
  5. Not sure if I hallucinated this by uncomfortable hour 11 into the flight, but we got sprayed by some anti-bacterial aerosol just prior to landing. Disturbingly they recommended that people wearing contacts close their eyes for a few minutes during the spraying.

Now the newly renovated Shenzhen airport is quite fascinating. Its overall design is evocative of a spaceship with a white, spotless interior. The giant, single lobby houses all airlines, international and domestic. Everything seems streamlined and chic, and though there are many travelers, it never feels too crowded.

All that is to say, the airport stands in stark contrast to its immediate environs. We stayed overnight in Bao’an, a hectic, industry-heavy corner of the city as close to the airport as one’s taxi driver whims. We haven’t gone to the city proper yet, but first impressions: lots of housing from the early-90s, lots of lush trees growing on very vertical cliffs, lots of women in high heels and platform shoes.

Also, we found a bat in the airport! Ann was wary of it but it was cute and hanging upside down.

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