Friday, August 17, 2012

Here come the meals….not a good sign!!

On Friday, we spent almost the entire day in the hotel, working, relaxing and packing for our trip to Guangzhao.  Our flight was scheduled for 7:40 and we arranged with the hotel to have a late check out at 4:00pm (not an easy task). 

We were not actually sure that this trip was going to happen.  There was a Typhoon (Hurricane) headed to Hong Kong on Wednesday and was scheduled to hit Guangzhao on Thursday with the aftermath Tropical Storm there today.  Fortunately, it made a hard left and ended up in Southeast Asia instead.

The hotel organized a taxi for us but he kept turning around and asking us questions….in Chinese.  We finally called Chun-Yu and asked her to talk to him.  Apparently he was first asking when we needed to be at the airport…ie were we in a hurry.  Since we had left the hotel FOUR hours before our flight, the answer was obviously “no hurry at all”. 

He then went on to tell her that he wanted extra money because it would be hard for him to get a fare back to the city.  She negotiated with him that we would pay 130 Yuan (about $US20).  However, when we got to the airport, the meter in the taxi only said 85Y so we handed him a 100Y note and he smiled and thanked us, even shaking Michael’s hand as we left.   As we have said before, nothing is written in stone here…..everything is flexible.

We found the check-in line and had a very nice attendant who politely told us that it was too early to check-in for that flight and that we would need to wait for 20 minutes.  There were no empty benches to be seen so we simply stood at the end of line and, exactly 20 minutes later, we were back in line.   When we arrived back at the desk, he slightly rolled his eyes, but proceeded to help us check in.

Then he said the dreaded words….”Sir, there is something wrong with your luggage….please step over here”.  We walked into another area where a woman pointed to an X-ray of the suitcase and asked what one cylindrical item was.  We opened the case and pulled out…..my hair spray can!!!  She carefully inspected it, had me put it back in the suitcase and we were good to go.

In going thru security, I was reminded once again that the government keeps VERY good tabs on where people are.  It is normal to have your photo taken when you enter or leave a country, but here they take your photo even when you are traveling within the country!!

As we were walking toward our gate, we passed the usual stores….food, jewelry, clothing, vegetables!!!   There was a vegetable stand doing a brisk business selling melons, Bread fruit (which are watermelon size) and other goodies.  I am not sure if you are meant to eat it before you leave or if you carry it on the plane!!

Since we were SO early, we both pulled out our computers and started working…Michael continued to write on the paper and I actually worked on an income tax return.  I LOVE that technology allows me to have everything that I need sitting on my computer ready for me to work whenever and wherever I please!

The flight attendant arrived and told us that the flight had been delayed for about an hour which didn’t really surprise us as China East airline has a horrible on-time reputation.  We found last year that, if flights are delayed long, they bring out food for the waiting passengers.  We laughingly said that if they bring food, we ARE in trouble. 

Sure enough, about 15 minutes later, the young man arrives with three huge bins of hot food plates.

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Michael joined the line to receive ours……

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When this happened in Beijing the food was excellent, but this time….not so much!!!

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Michael braved the little weenie thing and said that it was fairly disgusting.  He dared me to try the gelatinous substance on my plate, but I demurred!!!

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The flight arrived soon after and we boarded and had a comfortable flight into Guangzhao.  We were met by an enthusiastic Xue-Jun (pronounced Ju-June) and driven to our hotel.  He told us that the city proper has about 9 million people and is the 3rd largest in China (behind Shanghai and Beijing)….I don’t know why, but I had always just thought that it was a small town….NOT!!!

The hotel is very nice and the room was gorgeous…..

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We had a new experience in that none of our plug adapters would work in the electrical sockets.  Each socket had two sets of plugs with one being the standard parallel plug from the US.  That worked fine for me because my computer doesn’t have a three prong plug, but Michael couldn’t get his plugged in.  He went downstairs and immediately a young woman came up holding yet another type of adapter.  She had trouble getting it to plug in but kept working on it until it fit.  We are now a bit scared to remove it!!!!

In each of the hotels, I have seen a box way back in the corner of the closet and this time I decided to investigate.  This is what I found……

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Sure hope we never have to use them…..maybe for air pollution.

One final thing, many of the hotels have lots of people standing around, ready to help you with everything you do….including getting into the elevator and pushing the buttons!!!   They then stand outside the elevator door and smile at you as the door closes.  I don’t really know how to act and always feel like I should break into song….”So long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight”!!

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