October 14, 2004

Shanghai...where east meets west...part 1

Well, I got back from Shanghai. I'll be telling about my Shanghai experience in a series of posts, this being the first one. ALthough I could summarise it in a sentence: Read the Lonely Planet guide of Shanghai, 2004 print. It is spot on, to the letter!

My trip started and ended with the aircraft I actually helped design myself: the A340-600. I was quite exhilarated when I found out I got to fly an aircraft I helped design myself. Unfortunately, I let myself get blinded by that. Buy did I get a cold shower...
The A340-600 is supposed to have an in-flight entertainment system that is top notch. Too bad it is optional. I was flying with China Eastern and they apparently cut drastically on the in-flight entertainment. There were only a few LCD monitors in the centre row. What's worse, is that the programs played on it were mostly chinese. Nothing wrong with that, except that most programs didn't have subtitles. Plus the quality of the recording was soo bad (they must have bought some dirt cheap VCD copies from Shanghai Old Town, because I never saw something as bad as that), I couldn't even read the subtitles when they were there.
On the way back it was worse though. They played some chinese celebrity interview show, over and over again. Ofcourse again no subtitles. And it lasted for 6 hours!!! So at some point I asked the stewardess if she could change it, maybe put some movies on. She immediately did so and appologised for it (They are very polite and correct I have to say, no complaints about the service I got!). Again the films were poor quality. In fact, they showed some American movies, which were dubbed in chinese ofcourse, and then subtitled in english, very very poor english... It was almost funny!

You can notice though that they are a budget airliner, as beside the in-flight entertainment, they also cut costs on food. You get 2 meals and twice you get a drink, that's it, nothing more. Though you can grab drinks yourself during the whole flight, as they have trays with water and juices standing ready for the thirsty ones.

What was funny though was that on the way to Shanghai, I talked to one of the stewardesses and I asked her how the company (China Eastern) liked the aircraft. I told her I helped design the aircraft. That is... I tried to tell her. She couldn't understand english very well. Now I know I have an accent, but it really is not that bad! She constantly looked at me questioningly "what the hell is this guys saying???" And she would ask me to say it again a bit slower and she vrought her ear closer as if it was really noisy and she could hear me well. Finally a passenger walked up to us and started translating what I said to her.
No... it wasn't noisy...

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