Airshow China attendees caution that the local population speaks no English and does not seem to understand road maps, and Google and Facebook are disabled. Visitors were forced to express themselves by gestures, facial expressions and pictures. Twice, Google and Facebook were briefly available, but access quickly vanished again. These minor inconveniences aside, the number of new cars traversing high-quality roads caught the eye, as well as convenient navigation aids such as the names of state institutions written in English as well as Chinese, overall cleanliness and a passion for gadgets of all kinds. The town gave such a good impression that I became even more excited about the Air Show.
We drive up to the show venue to find that a spontaneous market has materialized. Until you reach the venue entrance, you'll be offered watches, sunglasses, tangerines, weighty ears of corn, something in a frying pan that smells delicious… Everything is displayed on compact and mobile homemade shelves. The vendors, many with children, are active and noisy. And along the fence enclosing the airfield, aviation fans are seated, densely packed, including families with lunches packed in large bags. It doesn't matter that the first part of the air show - the business days – aren't open to the public. The show is open to everyone during the last two days. The Chinese visitors aren't frustrated: in the end, planes in the sky look great from any point, whether you're inside the show grounds or out. The entrance is crowded as well, but the long lines move quickly. It takes 15-20 minutes to pass security, registration, and even an express Ebola checkpoint (smiling female volunteers apply a thermometer shaped like a gun to each visitor's forehead – the first time I involuntarily recoiled from the thing).