October’s Golden week holiday was fast approaching and we were still undecided on how to spend our week-long break. We had just come back from our tropical retreat in Hainan and we were hoping to catch some more sun in Thailand or Taiwan. It didn’t take long, however, to realise that an overseas trip during the Golden week just wasn’t going to be financially feasible. Airfare, together with every other holiday commodity, had seemingly more than doubled overnight. So, we decided to make our adventure a local one, exploring the Zhoushan Archipelago.
The main island of the Zhoushan Archipelago is no more than 200 km south of Shanghai. Even so, we opted to fly, as these tickets were still pretty cheap and it’s only a 40-minute flight. The short travel time ensured a little extra time to explore.
In the case of most adventures, there exists a rather large possibility that what can go wrong will go wrong. Murphy’s law doesn’t care about your feelings and it cares even less about your holiday plans. You can be sure that at least one of the myriad possible calamities, you couldn’t possibly have foreseen, will see itself play out in spectacular fashion. The same was true for this adventure, or so it seemed.
We had barely sat down and buckled our seat belts on the plane when an announcement filled the cabin. The stewardess’s voice echoed with a hollow ting. First in Chinese, to which we paid little attention and then in English. “Ladies and gentleman, good morning and welcome aboard.” The oh so familiar safety briefing followed. My mind drifted as I blankly stared at the flight attendant, at the front of the cabin, dancing to the concise instruction of the hollow voice emanating from the loudspeakers.
I was momentarily brought back to the present when the hollow voice changed. It was no longer the stewardess speaking, but the pilot. After a short announcement in Chinese, the pilot switched to English and repeated the information to all the Mandarin impaired individuals. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are now ready to depart. Our destination airport is . . .(some Chinese name, said too quickly for me to follow). It will be a two-hour flight and we’ll be travelling approximately 1200 kilometres. Enjoy the flight and feel free to approach our staff if there is anything that you need.”
A wave of pins and needles suddenly washed over my entire body and my stomach performed a range of world-class acrobatic stunts. My mind was flooded with doubt and a series of questions with terrifying answers raced through my neural pathways. One thousand two hundred kilometres? It can’t be that far, can it? Did we get on the wrong flight? How could that have happened? Did we not double check our booking? Where are we going?
I turned to Adrien who had a look of utter disbelief plastered across her face. No doubt, the same questions were the cause of her confusion. I grabbed my ticket and confirmed with her that the name on the ticket matched that of our desired destination airport. After momentarily relaxing, we realised that neither of us had ever checked the Chinese characters to see whether our booking matched our destination. A miniature panic attack ensued as the fear of the unknown took hold.
After a few moments of utter confusion and despair, we managed to partially accept our fate. There wasn’t much we could do at this stage, seeing that we were already hurtling down the runway. We decided to relax and just go with the flow. There was no use in fretting and we would reach our destination soon enough. We also soothed our fears with the hope that there was merely an error in the translation of the announcement.
Apart from the occasional attempt to gauge our direction of travel, we were pretty chilled. We passed the time with the usual crossword puzzles and reading materials.
By the time we were getting ready to land, we strongly believed that our suspicions of a botched translation were correct. Upon entering the airport, our suspicions were confirmed and the last few drops of stress evaporated.
We had escaped the clutches of Murphy’s law and postponed the inevitable to another day. Feeling relieved that it was nothing more than a translation error and that we had safely arrived at our intended destination, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. By no means is it ideal to get on a plane and arrive at the wrong destination, but there is something romantic about the unknown and unplanned.
Nonetheless, we were where we wanted to be and it was time to get on with our adventure in Zhoushan.