Sunday, 11 November 2012

China Trip Day 1 - Travelling to China - 11 November 2012‏


11.30am Scheduled departure time of plane
12.35pm actual departure time of plane
9.50pm Touch down at Pudong Airport Shanghai, visas and customs checks
10.40 Find group
11.00 Coach departs airport
11.45pm loo stop
12.20 arrive Hangzhou
12.45 arrive Sheraton Hangzhou Wetlands Resort hotel, register etc
1.10am enter room
2.09 sleep!

The Day

China. The day had arrived to fly over the equator to visit this enchanting land for the third time. After staying the night with friends in Sydney I was driven to Sydney International Airport by my host Peter. I had tried to check in the previous day but for some technical reason I was not able to do this, so queued up in the long line at the Air China check in counter. Fortunately the line moved quickly and I was soon allocated a seat and my bag was checked in.

The plane was due to depart at 11.30am, so I went to customs at 10.40 and moved quickly along the line. My carry on bag and myself passed through the scanner OK, but then was asked to do an explosives chemical test and pat down. Negative results, so walked on through the duty free maze of shops to read on the departure board that the plane was now delayed to 12.30. Found out that the boarding time was now noon so settled down to wait. At noon still thinking there was plenty of time I heard the final boarding call on the PA , so went to the boarding gate to discover that it was a flight to Canada - I hadn’t noticed that the boarding gate had also been changed as well as the departure time. Fortunately the new boarding gate was nearby, so joined the queue of people still lined up and was ushered to my window seat. The welcome and safety instructions were given in Chinese and English before the plane took off at 12.35.

The flight went smoothly apart from a few brief moments of air turbulence. Drinks were served at 1pm, then lunch served at 1.15pm. I chose the beef and rice over the chicken and potatoes which was nice. Drinks were again served at  1.30pm and the the lights turned off so that people could enjoy the entertainment screens on the backs of the seats. I watched 2 movies, Battleship and Hancock, both action adventure movies. Battleship was interesting in that it showed that age, disability, or colour are not handicaps to completing tasks.

Lights came back on at 8pm, drinks served at 8.20, and dinner served at 8.30. This time I had the lasagne rather than the chicken and rice. Yum.

Sitting next to me was a Chinese lady who could speak no English, but still communicated non-verbally with each other. Throughout the flight I looked around to see if I could recognize anyone from the previous year, but could not. After clearing visa and customs checks I ventured eagerly out into the public area of the airport and saw plenty of people holding signs of hotels and people names - but nothing for me. Looked around in despair fathoming out how I could get to my hotel in another city at that time of night. Asked an airport help person who suggested I catch a taxi... Stood in the middle of the mass of mainly Chinese people and was approached by a person asking if my name was on a list of people he had, and its was! Phew! He was one of the people on the other side of the barrier when I came out holding up a sign that I did not recogonise. It said "China (Zhejiang) International Traveling Agents Conference". Unbeknown to myself, I was one of the Delegates to this conference..... Seven of us boarded a mini-bus for the trip for our hotel for the next two nights - the Sheraton Hangzhou Wetlands Resort. The others were Chinese Australians whom I hadn't met previously but were on the same plane. The drive from the airport was along smoothly flowing freeways and tollways - not one traffic light till we arrived on the outskirts of Hangzhou. The Chinese adventure had begun.....

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