In 1995 Hubby Tony and I went to China on a group tour. We spent ten days seeing the sights starting in Beijing and ending in Shanghai with a couple other stops in between. As you might imagine, I bought lots of mementos for us and lots of souvenirs for other people. I didn't plan to get anything for the students of the tutoring center I was running at the time.
On our last day in Shanghai we had some unscheduled time before we had to get on the train to take us to the Beijing airport. Tony and I stopped at a grocery store to get some snacks. I was wandering up and down the aisles; when I got to the soda aisle I stopped in my tracks. In front of me were cans of Mountain Dew with the familiar logo on one side and Chinese characters on the other. My students' soda of choice was Mountain Dew! I could get them each a can, which I thought they'd find amusing, and not spend too much money.
I had seven students at the time, but I got a few extra cans so my boys could each have one, too. The cashier put the soda into several plastic bags, and we carried them back to the hotel and rearranged things in my largest suitcase so they'd fit. Of course, the soda made my suitcase heavier, but we were checking that bag. I got it to the airport, left it at the airline service counter for them to deal with, and didn't think any more about it.
Until halfway through the 12-hour flight, when I had a horrible thought. What if the lower pressure in the baggage section caused the soda to explode? It would make a huge mess and probably ruin the other things in the suitcase, as well as the suitcases next to it. I was on pins and needles until I was reunited with the bag in San Francisco, where I had to carry it through Customs.
I'd declared the soda on my Customs form, so the officer didn't question the strange purchase (although he did raise his eyebrows a bit). Before the next leg of the flight home I decided to transfer the cans to my carry-on suitcase. Of course, this was before 9-11 and there were no restrictions on liquids. The extra soda weight made my bag cumbersome and very heavy to lift into the plane carry-on bin, but I managed to successfully get it home.
My students were appreciative of their gift, although they said it didn't taste exactly like what they were used to. We decided it probably had a different sweetener.
|My can now, with a faded label|