Tall Black Japan 4: Chinese Flight and Layover

by Joseph Bonney

Let the staring begin! As I wander the international part of the San Francisco Airport for the departure, it's the first sign that I'm aware that some people are looking at me. Not a big deal, but more on that later.

The 12 hour flight wasn't bad, I got a seat by myself next to the window in the very back (not going to lie I wasn't sure it was because I bought cheap tickets or because I was the only black person on the flight that I was in the back corner of the plane). Watched a couple movies (highly recommend Loving Vincent), and got as much sleep as possible.

When I entered China, things got interesting. If your a foreigner, they do fingerprint scanners that put you in the system. It was so strange, but very futuristic. I had to get a visa to stay overnight in China because of their laws, but it wasn't bad.

The author scans his fingerprints in Shanghai for an entry visa into China.

The author scans his fingerprints in Shanghai for an entry visa into China.

At this point, I can tell more people are staring. You could tell it was general curiosity, but it was still funny to see people avert their eyes when I looked back, or continued staring at me like it was a contest.

My Dad hooked me up with a hotel stay in Shanghai for the night so I wouldn't have to sleep in the airport like I did in San Francisco. My parents being the worrisome people they were didn't want me sleeping in random corners of the airport.

I was shuttled off 15 minutes away to stay at the Lavande Hotel in Shanghai. One man tried to conversate with me in his broken English and made jokes with his friend (I assume were about me) during the ride. Though everyone was nice and helpful. This was the first time I wished I knew another language to communicate in, and also moment where I realized this is what it's going to be like for a while in my stay here and Japan.


Outside was very muggy. That mixed with the neon lighting of buildings made it feel like I was in some cyberpunk movie (think Akira or Blade Runner: 2049) and almost everywhere I went smelled like cigarettes. I was shocked to see a man light up in the entrance of the hotel.

My hotel room was pretty swanky, not going to lie. Big bed, wooden decor to go along with the lavender vibe. It was nice. Didn't get to explore as i really wanted to be rested in Japan, but I'm pretty sure I'll be back here.

Stay tuned for updates on my eventual landing in Japan!

Joseph Bonney is a contributing writer for Human Influence. Originally from Central Texas, he moved to Japan to teach English.