I’m in China again for work. I arrived here back on Sunday. The next few posts will be a bit of a journal.
I flew out on AC029 on Saturday. I particularly chose that flight as Air Canada has put seat back Video on Demand and seat back power into some of their planes and AC029 was one of those planes. The plane was about 50% full only so I ended up with an aisle seat next to an empty window seat. Perfect. I turned the little area into my own little space. I had my laptop set up on the tray next to me, while being able to eat and view video on my own tray/seat. The flight was about 11 hours to get to Beijing. During that time I watched “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and “88 minutes”. Both movies were quite good. The earphones I had brought for listening, unfortunately, had one not working. It turned out alright as I let my head rest on the right side with the earbud in my left ear. Sort of half listening/half sleeping.
I arrived in Beijing at the International arrivals. They shuttle you to your luggage via a train. Once there, I picked up my bags and cleared customs, happy that I had no visa grief. My next challenge was to find my way to the domestic terminal and get checked into my flight with China East Airlines to Lanzhou. The airport staff were very helpful and professional, directing me to my shuttle bus. The bus ride over to the domestic terminal actually took about 10-15 minutes – I’m glad I wasn’t trying to connect to a tight flight connection! I got to the check in desk for China Eastern and felt a bit comfortable as I recognized it from when we traveled from Beijing to HK a couple of years ago. Finally, something recognizable. First roadblock… English at the counter. I wanted to know if my colleague had checked in yet. I asked in English and was met with a blank stare and a bunch of Mandarin. She did, however find a coworker who could help me and we determined that he checked in and that I could get a seat next to him – Good. I walked down through security and was grilled a bit about my name (go figure) and then let pass. It was weird. Upon making my way to the lounge, it was pretty obvious who my Australian colleague was…. the BIG white guy. He stands 6’4” tall. Hard to miss in a crowd of Asians.
The flight from Beijing to Lanzhou was VERY bumpy. I think we had turbulence for about 90% of the trip. This compounded the fact that China Eastern doesn’t exactly have much leg room – nothing like being strapped in and not able to stretch out. We arrived a bit early (perhaps it was a tail wind that made it so bumpy?) at 1930 and our Lanzhou colleague was there to meet us. We grabbed a cab and headed into the hotel on a ride that would take about an hour and take us through mountains, along deserted expressways and onto bumpy roads under construction that made you long for the turbulence of the plane.
Upon arrival at the hotel, we got our rooms and settled the deposit. They wanted a small fortune for a deposit. Almost CAD1000 preauth on a credit card. We settled into our rooms and went down to the Chinese restaurant for dinner. No love. It was closed already. We headed down to the cafe and had a very tasty curried beef… We were tired… Off to bed.