Model traveler: Xu Jinglei

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Xu Jinglei on the road from Sun City to Johannesburg

Maya Alexandri is currently traveling as part of actress / director / blogger Xu Jinglei’s entourage in South Africa, and will file reports about the trip for the next week.

Word of the day: logistics. Xu Jinglei’s team, 18 strong, traveled from Sun City to Cape Town, stopping at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo Airport in between. The challenges of coordinating the on-schedule transit of that many people, and their attendant media equipment, would give anyone a headache (and has). But for Xu and her team, transit is simply another experience to document, and our journey was punctuated by photo shoots.

Pulling over by the side of the road by a field of sunflowers, we contemplated the fence separating us from them. “Just climb over it, it’s not tall,” urged Xu’s intrepid photographer. “It’s as tall as you,” she retorted. Still, the fence wasn’t electrified, and Xu was soon posing amidst the yellow petals.

Fences aren’t the only boundaries that gave way to Xu’s modeling imperative. The middle of the highway, the check-in gate at O.R. Tambo airport, and the runway onto which we deplaned in Cape Town all served as site locations for impromptu modeling shoots. Although we were holding up both car and pedestrian traffic, people generally seemed accommodating and amused, rather than annoyed.

The good thing about ad hoc photo sessions is that they liven up monotonous travel. The downside, of course, is that they can wreak havoc with your schedule. Once any idle moment becomes an excuse for a modeling shoot, all hope for on-time departures is dashed. Nonetheless, our handlers from South Africa’s Department of Foreign Affairs have been, like the drivers and pedestrians we blocked, accommodating and amused: their smiles are as genuine as their headaches.

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