Monday 14 August 2006
Highlights: Efficient Beijing Airport, Meeting new tour group
Saying goodbye to my mum (I’ll see her again in a few weeks) I took off to the airport using the excellent train system. The first shock of the day was that my Cathay Pacific flight was actually a “Air China” flight, the second was the QANTAS First Class lounge didn’t have a shower (they did however have some nice ice cream).
Once of the flight I found that I was the only white passenger on board, this reminded me on a Memphis bus trip I took when my friend Jon and myself were the only white people, feels weird when everyone looks at you like that and helps you have empathy for people who experience this when visiting Australia. However it seems all flights make announcements in English as well as the local language so I still knew were the emergency exits are.
One of the passengers fell asleep during this short flight and started the loudest snoring I’ve heard in public, it made for much laughter from the Chinese on board. As for the Beijing Airport it is super efficient, when I was handed 3 different registration cards (1 x entry, 1 x health declaration, 1 x customs). I had my doubts on how long I’d have to wait but it turned out I was through the airport very quickly, probably the fastest at an international airport ever. The Imaginative Traveller representative found me and I was off to the hotel for a China Explored tour briefing.
It turns out the group is only 7 people (Alex, Gareth, Bronwyn, Miles, Hanna, Alice & me) plus the Tour Leader (Brett). I also got a room to myself (which I’ll get for 8 nights) which is a bonus. I was surprised that only the UK girls (Alice & Hanna) are younger than me. Listening to the briefing it should be a good but intense trip.