i managed to snag a free hotel last night courtesy of hainan airline for layover passengers. i was just happy i didn't have to sleep at the airport, a real possibility. the hotel turned out to be better than what i expected (i was thinking just some hole in the wall next to the airport) but it was so late (11pm, i'd been awake since 6:30am) that i only had enough energy to contact my parents, take a shower, and have a dinner of beef jerky and bottled water.

the hotel has breakfast but what they didn't tell us - the less than a dozen layover chinese passengers, most with US passports, most going to west coast locations, san jose being a popular destination - was that breakfast is not included in the free hotel room package. i paid the RMB38, calculating that if i were to eat at the airport, it'd probably cost just as much. breakfast was lacking, if i had to give it a grade, maybe C- at most, definitely not worth the price of admission. i ate not for pleasure but for fuel, eating as much as i could since i would be skipping lunch and having dinner on the plane.

it's almost 10am, which is the time the shuttle will take me back to the airport. i better get ready. next time i write, it will be back in boston.

at 10am 2 shuttle buses arrived for the airport: a small one for domestic flight, a large one for international. in my pocket i still had a stash of chinese RMB, my chongqing subway card, my haiyou hotel membership card, and my ICBC bank card; it'd be the last time i'd carry those items. it's been 2 months since i've seen an american, but i wouldn't exactly call these chinese with US passports americans; i was returning home while they were leaving home. my flight wasn't until 1:50pm but i already arrived at the airport by 10:15am. the hotel wasn't actually very far from the airport, but located off of some highway interchanges that just made it seem farther. in the daytime i could that there were some restaurants within walking distance, but otherwise the area was pretty remote. from the shuttle bus i saw planes coming in for landing overhead. we headed to terminal 2, the international terminal.

i was there early enough that the airline desk for the boston flight wasn't opened yet. i sat by a little waiting area nearby with my stacks of luggage on an aiport push cart. the wifi there was strong enough that i was able to videochat with sunmeng for a few minutes while she was at work. around 10:40am employees were arriving behind the desk so i went to grab a spot in line. the gods of air travel were not kind today as i got an agent who was a stickler for luggage weight limits. "both of your suitcases are overweight," she told me. to further punctuate her point, she added that even 0.1 kg is against the guidelines. her partner was more sympathetic, told me i just needed to need a little bit out of each suitcases and i'd be okay.

i was actually kind of surprised, because back at the hotel i did some reconfiguring and actually took out some heavier items and put them in my backpack; if anything, my luggage should've been lighter. fortunately i had a bit of practice at the chongqing airport, and had a carrefour shopping bag ready to carry the excess items. it was a little embarrassing, but i packed well, and got in and out of my suitcases in just under a few minutes. "did you take out anything?" the agent asked me as she re-weighed my luggage, with hardly any change from before. instead of making me take out more things, she finally let me pass. i was told to a wait a minute on the side while they scanned my luggage for potential hazards; after that i was cleared to go.

with my suitcases safely checked away, i was free to use the bathroom one last time before going through the security gate. i also drank all my water before throwing away the bottle.