The flight from LA to Shanghai is uneventful, but this would not be the case for our travels through China. Before the flight, we had downloaded the jetlag conversion app, Entrain. After plugging in the parameters, the app puts out a schedule of when to start light and dark exposure. We decide to jumpstart the switch to China’s time zone in the flight. Most of the flight requires darkness, and this turns out to work well. Light exposure is supposed to start about one hour before landing. The LED headlamp is handy for that.
Shanghai is caught in a thunderstorm when we arrive. The domino effect of delayed and cancelled flights spill over to the evening. The service counter tells us that our flight will be severely delayed, if not cancelled altogether. We worry about the next day’s ceremony in Wenzhou. In the wee hours of the morning, we are so relieved to hear our boarding call. We finally arrive at our destination just before daybreak.
The Shangri-La Resort hugs the bank of the Ou River. There isn’t much time to get sleep. After a brief nap, there is the getting ready for ceremonial stuff: getting dressed, leaving with the groomsman Zhao Xing, traveling to Yan’s house, knocking, giving red envelopes, pouring and serving tea, leaving together through the sulfurous smoke and festive sounds of firecrackers, making our way to the hotel suite, and serving more tea—all the time being followed by the retinue of photographers and videographers. The bedroom is decorated in red, with red dates, peanuts, longan, and lotus seeds—together, there’s a message: quickly give birth to a son.
From there, we are escorted to the Awailou Resort, where there are four or five other wedding ceremonies taking place. Apparently, this is an auspicious day.
The emcee directs just about the whole setup, instructing us on all the steps and pieces, when to lift the veil, to exchange gifts, to pour the wine which is actually water—all this to festive Chinese wedding music. The food keeps coming. On the vegetarian table, there are versions of sea cucumber soup, abalone, mandarin ducks, roasted ham, and whole fish. After dinner, we table visit. Like the previous reception, the whole event ends up being a blur.
Sunday morning is filled with another reception, especially for close friends and family. Luckily, this is right inside the Shangri-La, which means there is no need to travel anywhere. There, we say our farewells and rush off to their airport. There is a very tight connection in Kunming, since the ticket agent tells us that we will have to pick up our luggage and repeat the check-in process.