Big party, clique vibe and so on? – Far from it. Jetlag is generally the main factor at most destinations, prompting each of us to function according to our own rhythm. Layovers are often coloured by loneliness or a feeling of not knowing what to do with the available time. But not on this occasion...
It’s not fairly typical during a layover to hear colleagues say things like “I have to contact my boyfriend on Skype; I’m going shopping; I’ve have something important to take care of.”.... Then we each go our own way and do our own thing.
But on my most recent Beijing flight the team feeling made a strong comeback. We were as jittery as on our first flight. Flying to this “new-old” destination made us feel like we were on a short holiday. An excursion to the Great Wall and sightseeing in small groups were part of the programme, as was a group massage.
While strolling through Jingshan Park, a fellow crew member and I came across local citizens dancing, singing, playing and making music. It felt like being at a folk festival. Such merry gatherings are totally normal here. Imagine a Swiss grandmother dancing in the park - quite impossible! But in this culture it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Although we are familiar with Chinese people as lively passengers who know how to enjoy life, we Europeans are often unable to read their feelings and body language, which means that we sometimes even tend to misinterpret the message they are sending.
Delighted and overwhelmed at witnessing this quite unfamiliar, life-affirming side of Chinese culture we let ourselves be carried away and spontaneously joined in the dancing, knowing that on our next joint rotation the two of us would probably be unable to remember where we had been together. Just like the people of China, we really perked up on this unusual rotation.