Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Beijing airport is lovely

(That's a lie.)

In fact, it's a rather confusing airport. But it's much less confusing to me now that I have spent 8 hours there. It's probably a good thing I did have 8 hours to sort out my new connection (after missing the original one) since figuring that out was more than slightly complicated.

1. Could not go through customs because did not have visa.
2. By the time got special dispensation to go through customs, bags were no longer on carousel. Baggage office by carousel had no info. Sent us to find Continental desk.
3. Air China desk said we would maybe, maybe not get on the 11:30 pm flight to Singapore, but to come back at 10pm to see. It was then 4pm.
4. "What do we do if we have to wait until tomorrow?" we asked. "You can sleep on the benches if you don't have any money to get a hotel room," the Air China employee said. How generous. However, it was not the money issue, but the visa issue. We could not leave the airport.
5. Finally located baggage at Oversize Baggage Dropoff counter.
6. Sought out Continental office to find out if there were any other flights we could take. Finding the office was perhaps the trickiest of all since it was located behind a door marked EXIT.
7. Were told that we could actually leave the airport and stay in a hotel if need be, as long as we were going to be in China for less than 24 hours. Much relieved.

In the end, we got on the flight and I'm here in Singapore and the sun just came up and my room is on the 19th floor. My view includes two churches.

I don't know how I would have stayed awake in Beijing if it weren't for my new friend, a 64-year-old man from Easton, PA, who was also trying to get to Singapore.

My room includes not only the Gideon Bible but also The Teaching of Buddha. Thankfully I'm nosy because I just found the hair dryer in the desk drawer.

The Beijing airport has numerous stations for filling water bottles. Many employees had water bottles or bottles of tea.

The green tea I got on the Air China flight was amazing.

My seatmate on the plane poured his fruit cup into the coffee cup that came with his tray and drank it like fruit soup.

After 36 hours of traveling, my hair looks as good as it does on most days. However, the customs folk in China still asked me to take off my glasses and smile while they squinted at me. Finally, the one agent said, "It's her."

My hotel room is quite spacious. There is a fridge and a kettle and even a scale. But there are no shelves in the bathroom.

I may get a pedicure today. I really don't like getting my toenails clipped, but I will just clip them in advance and request they not do it. My feet look frightful, so it must be done.

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