Saturday, 27 February 2016

Arriving at Beijing February 20

I have a week planned in China with G-Adventures.  The tour is called the China Express and covers some of the highlights of China in a very short time. Very little free time is available but everything is arranged for you, so it makes for an easy quick trip. Gadventures has a set itinerary and also optional activities suggested that if you wish to partake in, the CEO (Chief Experience Officer) will assist in making the  arrangements. Some meals are included (in this trip only one) but for some meals the tour guide arranges everything and the group shares the cost; on other occasions the guide gives suggestions of where you may wish to get a meal.

Leaving Cambodia and getting to Beijing and then to the hotel was a bit complicated. Started with:
Tuk-tuk 20 min from Siem Reap, Cambodia
Flight 4 hours to Shanghai
Taxi 40 minutes to other airport in Shanghai
Flight 2.5 hours to Beijing
Airport express Train 16 min
Subway 20 min.

I  made it but not without a hitch. My plane first landed in Shanghai at 4am and my next flight was to Bejing at 8am but the second flight was at a different airport. At 4am, not many people are in the airport, especially tourists.  I had difficulty in finding the exit! I asked at the information booth how to find the exit and an ATM. I had interrupted the fellow's game playing on his laptop so he pointed vaguely in a direction and said ATM'S outside and returned to his game. I finally got outside and the lady in charge of the taxi cue asked where I was going. I looked at my flight schedule and said "the other airport". She grabbed my paper, turned and walked away, I raced to her and grabbed it back and said I had to find a ATM first. I finally found some machines but none of them would accept foreign cards!!! The Grabby lady said she'd help me and directed me to a counter in the airport. I was able to pay for my taxi by credit card.  However it wasn't the  $65-70 that I was expecting - it was 650yuan ($125cnd). I  questioned the amount and was told "its more at night". I needed to get to the other airport.  I paid the amount and approached the taxi cue grabby lady again. The lady took the Mastercard invoice and put me in a car without meters or signs, leaving me without a copy. This was concerning but several taxi drivers were standing around - I accepted this as normal procedure (hoping this was the way things are done) and I needed to get to the other airport right away. Luckily at the next airport I was able to get Chinese yuan so I could catch the subway. The directions Gadventures had provided me to get from airport to hotel were very easy to follow and I got there without any other hitches.

Another hitch is.... China has blocked Facebook and all Google apps and Google. It is speculated that during the Olympic games in 2007 or 8, to many negative posts about China occurred,  so to stop the negativity they blocked the most offending sites. I reply on google and Facebook to keep contact with my family.  My return flights with air canada are registered with my Gmail.  I cannot open Chrome. I cannot open Explorer as the home page is set to Google.

The hotel is Chong Wen Men Hotel, it has a very nice, plush lobby but the room is very basic. I quickly fell asleep. When I awoke I went exploring. Right beside the hotel is a huge shopping mall - 7 floors high with the basement being a grocery store. I had some supper and picked up some juice and yogurt. It is cold in Beijing, -4°. The doors into the shopping center have heavy plastic strips to keep the cold out. Some doors have something that looks like a thermal blanket with a plastic window in it.

At 6 pm I met my group. Hopefully through the next few day's I will learn who belongs to the names. Our group CEO is Ricky Deng. He has been working for Gadventures for 5 years. There are 16 of us. Two young couples from Canada: Edmonton- Mike & Kaylen and from Toronto -Tak and Dorothy, a couple from Scotland - Steven and Kirsten a couple from Australia - Haydn and Sophie. one man -Allan- from the states. 4 women who are all friends from Ireland - Maureen, Tina, Aine, Noreen, one of which is joining her daughter on this trip who is presently going to university in China, Niamh (Neeve).  One more lady from Britain, Shiela who is a friend of some of the women from Ireland and who had lived in Ireland previously.

After we finish the paperwork a group of us went out for a traditional Chinese supper. 9 different dishes. It surprised me that the food was spicy hot as generally I've found chinese food favorful but mild tasting.
The first trek will start at 8am tomorrow morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment