I flew in to Shanghai too late at night to fly out immediately. So I treated myself to a room overlooking the runway. There is nothing special and local about most airports, and Hongqiao airport looked like it could have been anywhere in the world. At night even a fairly empty airport looks wonderful. I showered and sat nursing a beer at the window, looking at the last few flights landing. One took off, very much to my surprise. Blinking red lights moved slowly across the tarmac. Blue and yellow lights showed these beached behemoths their way. The bellows of landing crafts were muted by the double glazing. I let the TV play its welcome tune on a loop until I went to sleep.
When I woke in the morning the airport was busy, but the sunlight had robbed it of its magic. It was just a vast expanse of dull gray concrete now. The screaming of jets taking off was just a background hubbub. I was in a hurry, and didn’t pay it much attention. I would have to ease myself into a flying tube too soon.