Monday, August 20, 2007

Home Sweet Home

So landing in the US was kind of a trip. They showed some practical joke show on the plane right before landing, which eliminated landing anxiety for most people, but I hate practical joke shows; I manually turned my screen to black and looked out the window, to find we were already at treetop level and descending.

Passport control asked me why I was in China and what I was doing there. Not really much of a thing. Then, waiting for my bags, one of the Homeland Security Agents whose job it is to size up and intimidate the recent arrivals saw me waiting for my bag to come down the carrousel, and asked to see my passport and arrival document. Fine, man, I'm woose.

No 'good morning,' no 'sir,' no 'please' or 'thank you,' DHS is too busy protecting us from terrorists to bother with pleasantries.

HSD: Can I see your passport and arrival document?
me: Sure.

HSD: Where did you go?

me: China

HSD: How long were you there?
me: Six weeks.
HSD: What were you there for?
me: Studying Chinese.
HSD: So you speak Chinese now?
me: Better than I did six weeks ago.
HSD: Shay shay?

me: Ok, you're welcome... (are you kiding
HSD: (studying my response)
me: ... You said, "thank you."
HSD: Yah, ok I'm workin' here.

He looked at my documents for a few more seconds and I watched the bags come down the ramp. He handed my papers back to me with an "ok" and went to look for the next adult male who looked like he was traveling alone. Two minutes later, another agent, buffer and with a military haircut, came and asked me the same questions, only without the language quiz.

Once I got my bags, I stopped at last check point... and was diverted to agricultural inspection. My bags were scanned another time, and an older, more professional looking agent with better social skills confiscated my beef jerky candies, warned me about the $300 fine. After that, I walked out of the security area. They took my bags a second time, and I walked out to claim them on the other side.

My sister met me at the main baggage claim. Once I got home, it was gifts, shower, nap, lunch (Chinese food!) and then we went out to see the Simpsons' movie.

And that's it. That's how China Trippin' ends. I asked E to write a guest post, but he's a busy man, and I'm not holding my breath. So there I don't expect there will be much more at China Trippin'.

If you'd like to keep reading about my life, please don't hesitate to email me. If you don't already know it, I can send you the link to the semi-anonymous blog I've been keeping since 2003 (which I'm about to wrap up here pretty soon) as well as the new blog I'm planning to start as I fold up my tents in Seattle and start a new life in Shanghai.

For those of you that were reading in China, you no longer need to access through, you can just use the plain old address.

So thanks, readers, for reading, and thanks especially for your comments (you can continue to comment on any post, I will see them!). I hope you enjoyed my time in Hangzhou as much as I did. If you were one of my classmates in Hangzhou, please don't be a stranger.

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