Day 15: End of trip & flying home.
So it is the finale. The DiSCOVER program isn’t necessarily over per se as we still have a few more events and workshops planned in August, but the main event — the trip itself — has ended. This morning, we had our final continental breakfast at the Zhong Xiang Hotel in Shanghai. Since we didn’t have any morning call this morning and check out/meet-up time was at noon, it was very lax and we also didn’t eat breakfast together at the same time as usual. Mandy and I headed to the dining area at 9:30 just before it closed at 10 am. After that, I finished packing and managed to squeeze in 2 small cat naps. It was nice 🙂
We loaded all of our luggage into the tour bus for the final time, waved a tearful goodbye to our attentive and caring tour guide, Cherry, and headed to the Maglev high speed train. Our carry-on luggage and large luggage remained on the bus while we paid 50 RMB to take the 30 min (it felt shorter than that) high speed train ride to the airport. It was a neat experience. I watched the speedometer gradually go from 0km/h to 301 km/h. The high speed train that we took from Shandong to Shanghai also seemed to peak at 302 km/h. Unlike that one where all the seats faced forward in one direction, we sat 3 by 3 and faced each other. It was a nicer environment.
We got to the Pudong International Airport, checked in, went through customs smoothly (they didn’t invasively pat us down like in the Beijing to Xi’an flight which was much appreciated). Maybe Chinese customs are much more lax about the security checks where people are leaving their country. In any case, after a grass jelly milk tea drink from Chatime, some last-minute souvenir purchases for my relatives, and a final DiSCOVER thank-you photo, we boarded the AC 088 flight from Shanghai to YYZ at 5:30 pm ish. At the time of writing, it’s 8:24 pm and we’ve finished our first in-flight snack and meal (buttered pretzel sticks and pasta with beef respectively). I’m listening to Justin Timberlake’s new album, The 20/20 Experience. It’s all right so far. Not sure if I’m going to watch a lot of movies since the selection is exactly the same as last time.
I’m really excited to land in Toronto and move on with life. I really enjoyed the past 2 weeks of activities and travelling. My favourite parts were climbing the Great Wall, bike riding in Xi’an, eating a scorpion in Shandong (albeit not a freshly fried one), shopping and haggling for cheap items in Shanghai, and seeing the city from the 58th floor of the Ritz Carlton lounge at night.
My most regrettable part was not getting to bond with every one of the other 19 people that were on the trip. I had the wrong impression that I would leave the trip with really strong and lasting friendships with many of the participants. Perhaps I’ll continue the bonding here in Toronto, partaking in different events, and over time. That’s how the best friendships grow, right?
Thank you, Mon Sheong, for giving us the opportunity to travel on a once-in-a-lifetime trip! It doesn’t get much better than this: good health, people to travel with, new experiences, seeing the world, and the like. 🙂Want to see what happened throughout the trip?