The woman at the desk types silently for a long time before telling us the news we had feared: there is only one flight from Guangzhou to Melbourne per day and it left an hour ago.
At the hotel we are given food vouchers for the Western Restaurant. It’s called Hillary. I imagine it’s named for the recent Not President and amuse myself with the concept of this small yet significant tribute. We eat soup and rice before dozing through the afternoon.
In the evening we put on our hotel robes, eat tomato-flavour crisps and instant noodles and find the only channel with English subtitles. It’s showing some sort of political thriller set in the 1930s with men who make metaphors about broken crockery symbolising fraternal love and women who are stubborn. Later we switch over to watch a man demonstrate his prowess at picking up eggs and ping pong balls with heavy machinery.
Hillary serves a breakfast buffet from 5.30 so after a restless night we pull on yesterday’s clothes and arrive promptly. A sign advises us not to eat too much spicy food on an empty stomach and we heed its warning.
As the shuttle bus returns us to our state of transit, the smog-filled sky burns red, then orange. Then we are inside the airport, then the plane. Then we are gone.
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