that was the original plan. that plan never happened.
turns out their flight out of shanghai was at 11:00AM. unfortunately their flight leaving chongqing wouldn't arrive until 10:00AM. given the frequent flight delays and having to pick up their tickets and drop off their luggage and clear both security check and customs, there was no way they'd make their 11:00 flight. my father must've gave me the wrong time when he checked the return itinerary. i never bothered to double check, but it did strike me a little weird that we didn't consider the first plan originally if we had so much time to spare in shanghai.
the only reason we checked the time was because my aunt e-mailed asking if my parents needed somebody to go pick them up at the airport. that's when my mother checked the itinerary. i was in the bathroom at the time so i didn't quite understand what she was telling me through the closed door. when i came out she showed me; i got that feeling like the floor suddenly dropped.
my father wasn't here at the time, having spent the night at pansusu's apartment, old friends catching up. he called earlier, said he was going to use the bathroom and shower before returning to my apartment to pack up their suitcases. i called him afterwards to let him know the bad news and he hurriedly returned.
the 7:50AM flight from chongqing to shanghai tomorrow morning couldn't be changed or refunded. we had no choice but to swallow the cost (about US$300) and book another flight leaving chongqing this afternoon or evening. my mother wanted a cheaper earlier flight leaving at 2:30PM but we ended up deciding on a 5:00PM flight that was a little more expensive but it meant they wouldn't need to rush as much getting to the chongqing airport. i paid for the ticket with my credit card and everyone breathed a sigh of relief that a disaster was narrowly avoided.
but that was only the beginning it turned out. a few minutes later i received a text message on my phone. i thought it was just a simple confirmation message, but my father read the chinese and said it was to alert us that the flight was already filled. so my father ended up calling the booking agency (ctrip). we tried getting a 5:40 flight but that was also all booked up, so ended up with the 6:00 flight, the last one to shanghai.
with that out of the way, we finally managed to pack. i'd told my parents to bring a lot of suitcases even if they were empty, which turned out to be a wise decision because they bought so many things they barely managed to squeeze below the weight limit. they were also helping me back a lot of things i'd purchased during my 6 months time in asia. in total, there were 2 large suitcases and 2 smaller carry-on suitcases.
they finally finished packing by around noontime. pansusu's driver was coming by at 3:00 to take my parents to the airport, so we had a few hours to kill. we went to the chongbai supermarket to browse the aisles one last time. my parents had gone there on their own, but with me as a guide i showed them all the things they sell in china that we'd never find in the US. my mother said had she known there were so many goodies that she could've saved time and just filled her suitcases with things from the supermarket.
it was getting close to departure time so we decided to eat something simple back at the apartment. my parents made one last push to get me to get serious about xianglian, but i told them i wasn't sure how i felt about her. 3 consecutive days of lunch/dinner sent her a message i wasn't anywhere ready to convey. it's almost like my parents have already started planning the wedding when she and i aren't even going out yet.
my father was itching to get to the rendezvous point early so we went downstairs with the suitcases at 2:50PM. the driver ended up not getting here until almost 3:30. as the minivan pulled away, i had this strange feeling. i was sad to see my parents go (there was so much more cool things i wanted to show them), but homesick as well, because in a day or two they'd be back in boston, while i was still here in china. it also felt weird because suddenly i had nothing to do. i am almost never at home on an afternoon that isn't sunday or a holiday. it felt wrong somehow, like i was violating the laws. i almost wanted to go into the old town just so i'd have something to do, but i decided to take it easy and returned to the apartment.
the apartment was unusually quiet and empty. i crawled into bed and watched some show on my smartphone until around 5:30, when i decided to go back out to get a few things from the smaller supermarket (rice, tissue paper).
for dinner i ate the leftover rice porridge my parents had made.
close to 10:00PM i received a call from the shanghai hotel asking me if i knew if my parents had arrived or not. they were supposed to be in shanghai around 8:00. since they didn't have a cellphone, i couldn't reach them. i did have their flight number though (CZ8109) and an online check showed that they were delayed leaving chongqing by about several hours. the hotel called to let me know their airport shuttle service would only run until 10:00PM. i was hoping my parents would know how to take a taxi to the hotel instead. without a phone, all i could do was wait.
finally around midnight my father called me, said they were finally at the hotel. apparently he borrowed somebody's phone so he couldn't talk long, just said they were in shanghai.