The cab pulled up to the airport at 6:00am. I managed to get the door open and throw a handful of crumpled bills to the driver before puking. He removed my bag from the trunk, tossed me a handful of change and sped off amid a swirl of dust, pollution and freshly splattered vomit.
I left China on a solo flight to Okinawa on the 4th of December, and arrived (thanks to time differences) fifty minutes after I’d left the Middle Kingdom. My stomach had settled on the flight– Shanghai cab drivers are notorious for their shifty driving, and my cab to the airport had been a test to the durability of my stomach lining.
It was freezing when I boarded my plane to the beautiful Japanese island of Okinawa, and when I stepped on to the tarmac at the smallest airport I had ever seen (yes! Smaller then Ghengas Khan Airport in Mongolia!) to a warm bath of sunlight that was over 70 degrees.
I was held in customs for over an hour as they carefully searched every wrapped present, and then re-wrapped them. Having landed safely I was now on vacation, and in no hurry to go anywhere. I sat and chatted with the guards while my bags were searched and they plesently let me leave once they grew bored with my strange array of gifts all wrapped in Chinese newspaper.
Outside I saw a handsome young Marine stepping from a cab and rushed towards my brother. I had not seen him in a year, and in that time he had gone from boy to man as a member of the US military. We jumped back in the cab and were calmly and professionally delivered back to the military base where my brother showed me around his barracks, his base, and then the pool hall and bar.
We chatted, goofed around and easily fell back into the sister-brother relationship. After a while we boarded a bus to another military base where we had reserved a few cabins for our family for the week– directly on Oura Wan beach. This was my first tropical adventure, the furthest south I’d ever been, the first sandy warm beach I’d ever seen and the first time I’d visited my brother as an adult. It was going to be an amazing trip, and I could tell as we sat on the bus joking around and watching the sun set over the clearest blue/green water I’d ever seen. I’m a long way from the dusty streets of Shanghai now.
-Posted by Lauren.