Getting to Beijing in 24 Hours

A few entries ago, I wrote that I would talk about this.  It probably will have absolutely no relevance to the content in that entry, but it doesn’t matter.  It was awesome.

I’m not too sure how to write about this without sounding as boring as usual like I’m rambling or anything, I’ll just pour these memories out like how I tell this story verbally.  Also, since I’m going to be on a sixteen-hour flight back to Hong Kong tomorrow, I guess it’s fitting.  It was quite an adventure anyway, and probably one of the more interesting events in my life…and so on.  Bear in mind that this was relatively recent, back in summer 2013.  That is, it depends on how you define “recent.”

Just some context before I continue, because I think it’s necessary for readers to understand the situation: I’m not sure if it’s just me, but Beijing International Airport probably has a reputation in Hong Kong for being really inefficient.  By inefficient, I actually mean inefficient insofar as take-offs are consistently delayed for more than an hour, among many other things that make travelling to Beijing a total agony.  Also, it’s a four-hour flight between Beijing and Hong Kong.  That’s just a little tidbit that will probably help you in life (not really).  Now that I’ve established that…I should probably say this will be the least interesting entry in The Blank Pages.  I like taking risks…and there’s no other way of doing this without actually showing that it was 24 hours.

None of this was exaggerated.

[Hong Kong International Airport, 6PM]

The boarding pass instructed that I arrive at the boarding gate at least 25 minutes in advance; I got there in 30.  There were Mainland Chinese tourists yelling profanities, frantic footsteps from afar, and the man snoring behind me.  And then there’s me, sitting on the purple cushioned bench, waiting.  I was on my own, travelling solo.

Typically, passengers are asked to board approximately 15 minutes after the time indicated on the boarding pass.  15 minutes upon arriving at the gate, my butt was already aching from sitting down; the sign should be saying “Boarding Soon.”  It didn’t.

[6:30PM]

I was still on the purple cushioned chair, which at this point was my throne.  The sign remained unchanged.

PA:  Attention.  Passengers on Dragonair flight KA666 (I technically forgot the number) departing for Beijing, the flight has been delayed to 9PM.

I muttered a bad word out of the irritation for both the delayed flight and my growling stomach.  Otherwise, nothing particularly interesting happened in the next three hours, other than the fried chicken I had for dinner.  That being said, I should mention that during this time, I learnt from a friend who was in Beijing about the weather; it was reported that there would be increment weather after midnight.

[7PM]

We should’ve taken off by now.  Remember this time.

[Seat 42D, Flight KA666, 9:30PM]

New throne.  To my left, an Asian-American and legit American, both men.  To my right, an empty seat; to its right, an Asian-American woman.  In front of me, a British man wearing a suit.  Behind me, a Chinese kid who was apparently talking about seaweed.

Five minutes went by.  Then ten.  Twenty.  Forty-five.  10PM, and we were still on the ground; even after the safety videos and people walking back and forth along the aisles, the plane itself did not budge.  Not even a whir from the engines…not even…we weren’t…no moving…and the world went black.

[Beijing-bound, Midnight]

I realised that I probably wouldn’t be sleeping for a long time…

[Above Beijing, 3AM]

Captain:  [generic introduction]  We’ve been circling Beijing for about an hour now.  Unfortunately, there is currently a thunderstorm and heavy rain in Beijing, so the airport has just closed and will not allow us to land.  We will now be flying over to Pudong Airport in Shanghai, which will take about 2 hours…

The entire cabin groaned in unison.  Team spirit.

 [Pudong Airport, 5AM]

Landed, but still in the plane.  My butt was hurting.  Things probably got a lot less interesting as time progressed; meanwhile, the irritation of all passengers combined intensified.

[5:30AM]

We were going to be let out of the plane at 6AM.  Luckily, I could finally stand up.

The good news that made up for just about everything was that the airline booked a nearby hotel for all passengers to stay at for the morning to make up for the lack of sleep, lack of communication (Wi-Fi) and putrid smell as a result of the detour.  It was completely for free.  I never had a hotel room all to myself before, even if it were for a few hours.  Lucky me!!

Next flight to Beijing was a 2PM that same day.  We were to leave the hotel at noon.  Fair enough; I needed a shower.  Otherwise, nothing particularly eventful happened, other than my mass text to my boss explaining why I couldn’t be at work that day (I was having an internship, by the way).  Also had to let Dad know that I probably wouldn’t be at Beijing until 4PM that day (how cute), in which he responded with a guffaw.  “You already broke my record on your very first time.”  Thanks, Dad.  That was comforting.

[2PM]

Captain said that the plane probably would not be taking off until about 4PM.  At this point, I just asked the nice American man next to me if I could borrow his charger, who asked his buddy next to him.  Had conversation with them about 20th century historical dictators, of all things (i.e. made new friends).

[Beijing-bound, 4PM]

Yay.  Enough said.

[Beijing International Airport, 7PM]

The second the plane touched Beijing, the entire plane cheered.  Team spirit.

I made that considerably less interesting as how I do verbally, because I do tend to add sound effects…and I sometimes try to do it like a stand-up comedy and fail miserably.  To be fair, I panicked a little at first because that’s just the impulses of a sixteen year old girl finding herself travelling to an unfamiliar place (it was my first time going to Shanghai in ten years).

Lesson learnt: don’t panic, and travelling alone can bring you joys like these; if I were with my parents, it probably would have been way more…torturous.  Hooray for autonomy?  I really didn’t have a point to this one.

Thanks for stopping by.  Don’t be a stranger.  That’s a wrap.

Slightly

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