The trip began on a friday afternoon when, severely sleep-deprived, I entered Brussels Airport with a heavy backpack and a head cold. I had spent the previous evening sharing dinner and drinks before getting back to my place expecting to pack in about twenty-five minutes. I finished seven hours later, just in time to get my second hepatitis shot and clock in my last few hours of work before heading to the airport, about an hour late according to my friends but still fully on time to catch the flight to Munich. I fell asleep before the doors closed and didn't open my eyes until landing, having slept two hours in as many days. Forty minutes later we boarded Lufthansa flight 722 to Beijing.
I kept myself awake through dinner by sipping gin&tonics while watching the "Seinfeldvision" episode of 30 Rock, which was very good, and Angels and Demons, which wasn't. I joined the others a few rows down the aisle. We quickly found out that buying a fine bottle of duty-free Scotch is all it takes to turn the cabin of a transcontinental airliner into a pretty classy place to hang out. We browsed through our guides and made plans for the next days, managed to get scowled at by most of the 300 other passengers without ever annoying the air hostesses – which is, of course, the main thing – and even found out where they retreated during the late night hours: a hidden, below-deck crew room that opens with the code 2428 and is seemingly much larger than the airplane itself. Two hours before landing, all Scotch and energy depleted, we headed back to our seats for our last snooze BC – Before China.