On occasion I think of a description or passage that existed in one of my early drafts, and I don’t remember if it made the final cut. Then I sprint to my nearest copy and flip through pages until I find the answer. Here is some description of the flight over China and Korea that is not in the book. It’s one of my first impressions of Asia.
We pass over Shanghai at 38,000 feet. Neatly-placed blocks of repeating towers and towers of high-rise buildings cluster in impossible numbers. It resembles my living room floor after a full-blown Lego city event. Even from this far above I can see how tall the buildings are, and how plentiful and dense. Inner city circles of buildings crowd in perfectly spaced, packed rows.
The view of Eastern China from way up here is farmland, vast and repeating. Factories spread tendrils of white smoke along the coastline and high-voltage power lines reach from them in ordered rows, sprawling toward cities. An open pit mine reveals the heart of one unlucky mountain. Here and there, dams, breakwaters and irrigation run for miles. Blue-green roofs over long rectangular buildings must be greenhouses or shelter for livestock; they sit in small groups like stacks of bricks waiting to be built into a wall. Clouds below us thicken and cover the unfamiliar hills which sprout up organically out of the manicured rows of farms. They are the only reminder of nature from way up here. The rest is evidence of man’s heavy hand, working in all directions of view until it fades into the blue horizon.