It’s now 2:30pm, Friday, 7 Aug 2009. Calculating from the time I exited and then re-entered the Beijing International Airport again, I’ve spent exactly 32 hours in Beijing this time around.
And in total, I’d have spent about 18 hours on the road – on taxis getting to or from the airports, at the airports waiting to get on the planes and on the planes hoping to land safely.
My plane has been delayed for more than an hour.
So here I am, sitting a little away from the gate, waiting for time to go by.
As I look around, I see many fellow business travellers, heading home from work, on a Friday afternoon, tired after a week of work.
There was a time when going to the airport was something special. When leaving the country by plane meant a special vacation, a long trip away for studies or something similar.
There was a time when taking an aeroplane was an exhilarating experience, even a little scary to some. When eating plane food was an experience in itself and watching the inflight movie felt almost like a trip to the cinemas.
There was a time when we stared out of the plane windows when the airplane took off, when we gasp at the beautiful views outside that little window and try to point to our fellow travellers how we could see familiar buildings or landmarks as the plane taxis into the airport.
But those times seem far away now.
Now, we frown at the long queues at the customs at the airport, take a nap when the plane takes off, frown irritably the passenger next to us laugh out loud when watching a comedy on the inflight entertainment system and reject the food served by the airline.
What used to be once a luxury has now become just a means for us to get to work and then get home to spend the weekend with our family.