A common reaction I got when people learned I was going to China was some comment about my height relative to the average Chinese height of around 5’6″.  There’s another phenomenon that occurs here because of my height, but I’ll get to that later…  While yes, this is a country designed for shorter people, on the subways, etc., what I notice more isn’t that everyone is that much shorter than people in the US.  What I do notice, though, is that the spectrum of height seems to be skewed towards more shorter people than tall.  I’ve seen more people sub 5′ than I have over 6′.

All this being said, the world itself isn’t really made for 6’10”, not just China.  Planes especially.  I’ve been able to experience my favorite “hey-this-seat-won’t-recline” game a few more times.  This game starts when the person seated in front of me tries to recline their seat.  When it won’t go back, they assume it’s jammed and turn it into a trampoline trying to force it to recline.  The seat, of course, is working quite well, but my knees are preventing it from going any further.  Lavatories bring another dimension of challenges, but I will say the Airbus 330 from Seattle to Tokyo had an accessible bathroom that was actually passable.  The ceiling was still a bit low, but I at least didn’t have to limbo my way in.

Making my way through the airports in Tokyo and Shanghai was challenging travelling by myself.  Not speaking or reading the local language, trying to figure out what gate to go to was interesting.  I wasn’t exactly sure where I needed to go.  When we finally landed in Shanghai, I just decided to follow the crowd.  Success!

My first Shanghai experience was talking a driver down from 850¥ to 600¥ to take me into the city.  And I got a better car.  He gave in right away and I knew I’d been had, but I was tired and just wanted to get to my apartment.  It’s about an hour from the airport and it cost me the equivalent of $100.  I was told by the locals later I still paid twice what I should have…