Why am I drenched in sweat in an airport bathroom?
Now THIS is a story…
As I mentioned in a previous post, we arrived in Beijing after some decent sleep, but we were rudely welcomed to China by a long wait outside the plane. The buses took forever to come, and then made us wait even longer for no apparent reason. We had a 2.5 hour layover, and even that should be more than enough time to go from an international flight to a domestic one…. it wasn’t. It took 35 minutes to get from the plane to the terminal!!
Keep in mind that through all of this I was carried a huge backpack, a handbag, a heavy camera bag, and a 14kg sleeping toddler, and pulling a small wheely back. PLUS the humidity was about 95% and air-conditioning SUCKS in China.
Once we got to the terminal we had to walk miles, and go through some sort of check to get to the train. During the check they pulling Eli and I aside, I wondered if he had a fever and they picked that up…. but he didn’t. They gave me no reason why they pulled us aside, and checked us. Perhaps a random check??
We then carried on, and took the train to the arrivals terminal. Once there we walked to the immigration hall. A large, warm, extremely crowded area. Two lines, one for Chinese and one for foreigners. The foreigner line was SUPER long, but the security was NOT allowing anyone to transfer across!!
We stood and stood and stood.
My back was breaking, I was so hot, and I started to feel like I was going to faint.
After 30 minutes, and only minimal queue progress, I started talking to those around me. Many of them let me jump a few spots to get closer. But the line zip-zagged for miles… and the service was SLOW!!! No one was coming around to pull families/ late people out, so I got out and walked straight to the front. I told one of the men in uniform that I was late, and he shouted that everyone was late, “Get back in the line!!!!” I pleaded with him, saying that my boarding was beginning in 30 minutes and he finally let me stand in the front of the queue.
I literally had to grovel!
He talked to me like I was a dog and never looked in my eyes.
Eli and I went through the immigration check (but the guy took extra long because he had to go “check” something with someone). Eli had coughed twice, he looked at my passport, and then started to look concerned. Are you KIDDING ME?!?!? He asked if Eli had a cold. ? Half of China coughs for a living, and you don’t want to stamp my passport because I just came from Africa with a child with a cold!?!?! (my thoughts, not my words)
When we were told to go through, we RAN to the escalators and down to the baggage claim area. There we waited for about 20 minutes for the bags, and then, sweating and tired, made our way to Customs. My time was running out but I assumed I would drop my bags somewhere and ran through to the gate area.
Oh noooooo, I was so wrong!!
I went through “Nothing to Declare” and the guard immediately walked up to me and asked for my passport (even though I had JUST scanned it to get through the gate). He looked at me like I was strange, and then told me to go left to get my bags searched. He came with me and scanned me, asked me to open a few things and then pointed to another guy who would scan my bags, and then open them for an extensive search. Like a heaven-sent angel, that guy must have cared about my pleading about being late, and he merely asked why I was in China, and then pointed to the door and told me to leave after I said I had lived here for five years.
I packed up our stuff, and then raced to the exit area.
I then had to run more corridors, fight more crowds and finally get to the main hall for departures. Except there was no direct change into domestic transfers… I had to run through the full hall with thousands checking in for the first time. The boards weren’t visible so I asked information where I should go. I was boiling, heart pounding and absolutely shattered!!!! The guy sent me to a deck that I COULD NOT find, probably because I was freaking out… my flight was leaving in 14 minutes, and I was losing my mind because no one would move out the way. Plus at this stage, I had a trolley piled high with my check luggage, and Eli was awake, pointing, asking for water, and touching my face.
I chose a random Air China counter that I could actually reach the front of, and I told them that my plane was leaving 14 minutes. I expected them to tell me that it was too late to board, but the lady sighed and got in the phone. For 6 minutes she was on the phone. She took my bags and checked them back in. I waited and waited, and finally thought I should check with her. You know… OBVIOUSLY she was calling to hold the plane for me. hahahaha… YEAH RIGHT!!! When I waved at her and shrugged, she made a loud annoyed sound, then grabbed my ticket. Yup, she had forgotten about me!! She finally wrote my boarding gate on my ticket (it was missing) and then shoo-ed me away.
So I ran!
I RAN over to the escalator going down to the domestic departures and showed a lady my ticket. She grabbed by pull-bag and motion for me to follow her… FINALLY, someone who was going to show some urgency!!! WE RAN THROUGH multiple lines, but eventually got to an area so congested, that even her calls in Chinese to make people move aside were in vain! No one moved! She eventually handed me my ticket, and my pull-bag, and left me in the middle of the mass line of chaos.
My plane was leaving THREE MINUTES AGO, but I assumed that MAYBE they were waiting for me. HAHAHA. No one had told me it wasn’t waiting so I hung on that hope. I then, slowly but surely, asked Chinese people to let me go ahead of them. Surprisingly, MOST of them, told me they were late too and turned their faces away from me. Apparently, carrying a child, and clearly battling, did not matter to most of them. I had to plead and ask to see their boarding times… they were ALL leaving after me. Most of the time I just inched through, apologizing and pushing as I went. Some other gracious ones let me through.
When I got to the front, I had to face YET ANOTHER CHECK.
Passport and then security. This was BY FAR the worst check. They sent me through the scanner, bags and self, THREE TIMES. They emptied all of my bags, POURED the coins and personal items out of my bag and into a tray. Then opened my toiletries and make up and threw everything out of them. They searched and researched every single bag. You would think someone had tipped them off that I was carrying drugs. They made Eli walk through the scanner twice on his own. He was scared and crying because they were making him go without me.
Finally, when I was done, I turned around and starting running toward my gate. Along the way, a man in an electronic car stopped and told me that my gate was far, so he loaded my bags. I was so relieved! I was sure this was a free service for elderly, or those carrying children, but something inside me said to mention that I had no cash. He then unpacked my bags and left me.
A couple more minutes WASTED!
Finally I was in the right place, but I was so hot, so tired and near fainting…. but I ran like there was no tomorrow. I wanted nothing more than to get on that plane, to Qingdao, and into Justin’s arms. I could see my gate in the far distance, so I just ran. Each time my body slowed down, I told myself I might miss boarding by a second, so I ran harder.
As I got to my gate I saw nothing on the board. It didn’t even say Qingdao. I thought for sure that I had missed it. I asked the lady at the desk and she rolled her eyes at me and said nothing. So I asked a passenger nearby and he said that the flight was delayed.
I WAS SO RELIEVED!!!
Of course, that relief was minimized somewhat when they flight ended up being delayed by 5 HOURS!!!! Eli and I sat on the floor near the gate for hours, and then sat on the plane for another 2.5 hours (boiling). Tons of planes taking off behind us. We were eventually told that there was “air traffic”, but lets face it… This was clearly ALL to do with Air China being the suckiest airline ever, and not much to do with air traffic!!!!
When we were finally in the air, and Eli and I managed to fall asleep, the pilot came to me and told me to straight up both of our seats. We were 40 minutes into the flight, but he said 30 minutes after taking off and 30 minutes before landing, this was the Chinese regulation. I was absolutely shattered, half awake, and too confused to even know where I was so I thought we were about to land. When I realized that he had woken me half way into the flight… I was ready to breathe fire!!!!! Maybe if he paid more attention to flying the plane and not worrying about seats being upright, we would have taken off earlier!!!!
AIR CHINA, you suck!!!!!! BEIJING AIRPORT…. you suck!!!!!
Worst return to China EVER!!!
**Please note, I am usually extremely optimistic and prefer to look on the bright side of things. Part of me didn’t even want to post this negativity, but this was just TOO MUCH!! Normal non-negative posts to resume shortly… ?**