Frankly, I don’t remember much about the flight to China. It was on September 15, 1987, and it was a Zhongguo Hangkong Gongsi flight – the PRC government airline – from Frankfurt to Beijing, with stop-overs in Rome and Sharjah (for refueling in the gulf states). Every passenger received a plastic model airplane as an in-flight gift. After arrival in Beijing there was a connecting flight to Shanghai.
At that time Shanghai Airport was a bumpy runway somewhere in between cabbage fields in the yet-empty Pudong area. Seriously! I was not the only student on the flight who was bound for Fudan, and I suppose the uni had organized a mianbao che – a tiny minivan in the shape of a U.S. bread loaf, hence the literal translation „bread car“ – to bring us to the foreing students‘ dormitory.
Night had fallen in the meantime, and we were assigned a room for the first night. It was a hot and stuffy night. I remember being woken up at about 5 the next morning by the deafening sound of cars and trucks and bicycles outside the window.
And so my year in China began! Or, as that „traveling China in the 1980s“ cliché goes: