Richard’s back – sort of

My friend who developed a blood clot on his economy flight to Beijing has gone home after two weeks of daily double injections and visits to the hospital. He now has to continue treatment for three months. There’s a lesson here: always travel business class.

I had quite a week, including a visit to Guangdong, where I spent nearly an entire day at a factory in Donguang (which I’ve seen spelled as Donguan, Dongguan, and Dongguang). This was an experience – a positive one. Maybe I was lucky to be at a Western-owned factory; it was clean, the workers seemed to enjoy their jobs, worker safety was a top concern and the owner had just set up basketball and tennis courts for all the staff. I know there are lots of factories where life isn’t quite so rosy. I’m glad the one I will be working with is among the good ones.

On Tuesday my mobile phone got destroyed, so if anyone’s tried to call or message me, I’m not being rude. There’s never a good time to have your phone break, but this was the worst possible time, with a friend having a medical crisis and being out of Beijing for three days with no access to email – you realize your mobile phone is your lifeline to the world, and without it you feel utterly helpless.

I’m back but won’t be available to blog very much (business as usual). It’s reached the point where I never look at my site meter anymore (it used to be an hourly ritual) and sometimes have to go for days without even looking at the comments. I do miss the writing, but, priorities….

Thanks to those who offered to help me last week. It was really great of you.

The Discussion: 19 Comments

“There’s a lesson here: always travel business class.”

You pay?

October 14, 2007 @ 2:46 pm | Comment

I’ll give another pitch for United Economy Plus, for those of you (like me) who can’t afford business class. It makes a huge difference.

Glad Rick is feeling better!

October 14, 2007 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

Comedian Stephen Wright on flying:

“I used to be afraid of heights, but then I thought, why focus on just one direction?”

October 14, 2007 @ 4:17 pm | Comment

“There’s a lesson here: always travel business class.”

While business class is undoubtably more comfortable and not as exhausting as economy (I use business myself, even for personal travel), I don’t think there is any evidence that economy class, in and of itself, promotes this sickness, which you can get just as easily in business class if you choose not to move around.

I take blood thinners before traveling.

October 14, 2007 @ 5:29 pm | Comment

This link is off topic but thought I would share it here anyway:

Hello Richard, too bad you aren’t around that much. It’s good to have someone who leads and is dedicated…

October 14, 2007 @ 7:53 pm | Comment

Boo, DVT can afflict passengers in any class, but sitting in a cramped position with no space to stretch out and move your legs increases the risk considerably. It is not called “economy-class syndrome” for nothing.

Snow, good links – the Joseph Kahn article on the good Chinese citizen in jail for trying to save the lives of others is agonizing.

Lisa, for his return flight yesterday United bumped R. up into economy plus after he presented the medical certificates. Airlines are scared shitless of DVT lawsuits. Economy class is one of the world’s great evils.

October 14, 2007 @ 9:00 pm | Comment

Oh, good, Richard! It’s a lot nicer. You can get a membership for the year for @ $350.

I also move around a lot when I’m on these long flights. I have a bad back problem and sitting for that long doesn’t agree with me on any level. I go back to the bulkhead area and stretch. I don’t care if I look like a dork! It helps.

October 15, 2007 @ 2:19 am | Comment

“Economy class is one of the world’s great evils” – surpassing poverty, human trafficking, social injustice, corruption, tyranny, war etc etc . . . .

October 15, 2007 @ 6:46 am | Comment

Skanger, um, I was being a bit tongue in cheek. I hate economy clas. I hate Microsoft. They are both evil things. But that doesn’t there aren’t things that are much more evil, like religious fundamentalism, fascism, the ebola virus and non-dairy creamer.

October 15, 2007 @ 7:46 am | Comment

I don’t think it’s class dude, you just need to walk around more when flying. Don’t just sit there for 12 hours

October 15, 2007 @ 9:04 am | Comment

True, moving around is important and it’s not just class. In business and first, it’s uch easier to “move around” in your space without getting up. In cattle class, there’s little choice except having extremely, often painfully limited legroom. I’ve done both, and I can safely say economy is more cramp-inducing than first.

October 15, 2007 @ 9:22 am | Comment

Sorry for going offtopic, but I was just watching the CCTV’s live broadcast of the 17th Party Congress, during Hu Jintao’s opening speech, he said, rough translation:

“Our Party has corrected Comrade Mao Zedong’s mistaken policy of ‘class-struggle always comes first
‘, and re-focused our efforts on economic development….”

WTF? I thought I heard something wrong? I was always under the impression that Mao was revered and considered the grand boss the CCP? How can Hu Jintao say that?

October 15, 2007 @ 10:30 am | Comment

Probably comes under that “30% bad” formulation of Mao, Welch.

October 15, 2007 @ 10:58 am | Comment


So Hu had nothing better to say than to repeat Deng Xiao Ping. And now the “class struggle” is the struggle against foreign companies by domestic companies and domestic consumers.

I’m with Lisa on the stretching thing, I never fly the chinese airlines across the pacific and though United, NW and ANA have enough leg room, I and quite a few others not only get up to stretch but I spend quite a few hours leaning against a bulkhead and reading. As long as you aren’t in the way you can usually orbit the mid-deck galley area and milk some light when the rest of the plane goes dark. Having had more than a few sports injuries I’ve learned how to do deep tissue massage when I am sitting to stimulate blood flow. Proper diet is a good way to avoid DVT also. Stay away from fatty, cholesterol laden foods a couple of days before the flight…a few drinks certainly doesn’t hurt in flight either.

October 15, 2007 @ 1:33 pm | Comment

Four Xanaxes or Valiums an hour before takeoff washed down by two double-shots of whisky does wonders for me.

October 16, 2007 @ 12:24 am | Comment

Hi, my name’s Richard, and I’m also back, partly to point out that the BBC has a really interesting series of programmes about a wide range of issues about Changing China, at (presuming that is that you can still get the BBC in China that is), but mainly to plug the thing I wrote yesterday,when I should actually have been doing something else much more important, but I felt exercised enough to write this instead!

October 16, 2007 @ 12:43 am | Comment

how about you lay off the jet-lag aggravating alcohol and just eat light foods for two days before the flight. worked wonders for me back when i had to fly from new york to hong kong every month.

October 16, 2007 @ 2:51 am | Comment

also, I don’t really think it’s business class (or even first class, for those lucky few who fly American) that can solve ECS.

you get dehydrated on a flight from the dry air, and that thickens your blood; plus, lack of movement for upwards of 16 hours can really put a crimp in your veins, no matter what position you are in. (This is why people are more likely to get heart attacks in the mornings.)

walk around, chat with the flight attendants, look out the window, hell, even play some foosball with your co-workers if they’re on the flight…

October 16, 2007 @ 2:56 am | Comment

Lisa, whats dorky about stretching?

Richard, what’s religious fundamentalism? It’s not like I’ve never heard it before, I just wanted to know what you meant exactly. Some words get thrown around a lot but I don’t think most people really know the meaning, I guess its a more modern type term? I donno…

October 16, 2007 @ 8:28 am | Comment

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