Friday, May 29, 2009

I've access once more!

The train terminal at the Beijing airport to get to the international departures.

My bunk with my bag mostly packed up on Thursday. My camera bag is hidden between the night table and bed. The other bag is the one I purchased for Cory's special gift.

A delicious bowl of rice with sesame seeds.

Chicken, zucchini, and peanuts. This stuff is to die for!

Now that I'm sitting in the Vancouver airport I've regained access to Blogspot! I'll be putting up the second half of my flight as well as some of the things that I've learned once I get back home. I also plan on putting up a series of images taken from my 50D. This time you'll get to see them in good quality and not off the litte LCD screen.

Day 33 - Thursday May 28th -My uneventful last day

Thursday was my last full day in China and it didn't go exactly how I wanted it to. I was hoping to go to the zoo to get some pictures of animals but it was raining. A lot. I basically spent the day relaxing in the bar chatting with other travelers while clearing out my inboxes. Even though I didn't do anything exciting it was pretty fun since I know I'll be busy once I get back home. It's nice to sit back and relax.

I let myself sleep in since I was so exhausted from the day before. I woke up stiff and sore with a really bad shoulder ache. I actually had a bit of trouble moving my shoulder. I quickly jumped into the shower and let the warm water soak into my shoulder which actually made a huge difference. I could move it again without any pain. I then went to the bar to get myself a good breakfast. The day before I had a small croissant for breakfast so it was nice to order a huge meal. Bacon, eggs, sausage, hash browns, and toast. It was great. Tomorrow I may get the pancakes with strawberry syrup or another egg type breakfast since it was so good.

While chilling in the bar I've learned that the bar plays a huge variety of music. It's awesome. It switches from Latino to Oldies, to modern rock to country. It's really random. There's quite a few songs where I've caught myself starting to sing along to them. I've gotten a few strange looks.

I've also discovered that this weekend is another holiday weekend here. The Dragon boat festival. It's more celebrated down south since there's more rivers but the prospect of traveling on a holiday isn't too exciting. I'm going to leave the hostel earlier than I normally would to avoid traffic (if there's any) and if the airport is really crowded it might make a difference there too. I'll have to make sure I have some spare cash on me for food at the airport.

I went out for dinner with a guy I had met in the bar. I feel awful because I can't remember his name. I think it might be Will. I'll call him that anyway. He's another American that's been traveling around for several months. He's been around Europe, Australia, and is now starting the Asian countries. His trip is going to last a total of 6 months. He was interesting to talk to and I found out that he has a dual citizenship. He's also Canadian. He was great to talk to because he was into Politics, history, world affairs and the like so it was pretty awesome. We went out to a small restaurant down the street and ordered some of that chicken with zucchini and peanuts (which was awesome) and some sweet and sour pork. We got little bowls of rice to go with it and had ourselves a lovely meal. It was really nice to split the bill with someone. We went our separate ways after diner since I was heading towards the Quik convenience store while he wanted to go to a supermarket for fresh fruit. He's going to be hiking the Great Wall tomorrow and wants some food. I wanted to buy my dad a little something special because he'd never believe me if I simply told him.

When I got back to the hostel I pretty much just packed my bags and got everything ready for tomorrow. I made sure I had my passport and exit card ready for customs tomorrow while everything's safe and secure in my bags. I want to make the least amount of noise as possible for my other roommates since I'll be getting up early enough to be able to have enough time to eat and find my way to the airport. I'm hoping I can get a lot of sleep on the plane because when I get home on Saturday afternoon it will feel like Sunday morning for me.

Day 34 - May 29th - My last morning and first part of my flight

Today was my last day waking up in Beijing. I had made plans to get up early, shower, eat, and then head off to the airport. One of my roommates alarms rang at 6 in the morning which made me panic momentarily since he had the exact same alarm as mine. I glanced at the time and realized that it wasn't for me so I went back to bed. When mine did finally ring I groaned and wanted to get back to bed. I had some trouble sleeping the night before. I couldn't see to find that nice comfortable spot in the bed and a mosquito kept buzzing around. The last thing I wanted was more bug bites.

My shower was also very reminiscent of my first day here. The water got either too hot or too cold during the entire thing. It was a little annoying but at least I was used to it so it didn't really slow me down. Every time I felt the water start to change I moved over the knob.

After my shower I finished packing most of my things (except for my towel, pillow, and shampoo/conditioner) and went to the bar to get some breakfast. I got myself some crepes with strawberry sauce. It came with a few slices of watermelon. I lazed around the bar for a bit while checking my e-mail one last time before I left and went upstairs to finish packing. I had hoped that my towel would dry by the time finished breakfast but I guess it was too humid to fully dry. It did get mostly done which was good since it's not going to get too musty smelling. I'll be sure to start to a load of laundry when I get home. It's a good thing that towel's anti-bacterial.

Once I finished packing I double checked my room to see if I might have left anything behind and went downstairs to the reception to check out. I received my 100 kuai deposit back (which was later used as my cab money) and went out the door in search of a cab. I got really lucky in finding one. There's a hotel right in front of our hostel and I had plans to wait in front of the hotel. As I was walking next to it there was this line of cabs on break playing cards. One of them asked me where I was going and I said the airport. He then asked me which terminal and offered to drive me. Normally if it were an unmarked car I would have refused but since it was an actual taxi I said yes. This just saved me a good 20-30 minutes on the street with my hand sticking out in hopes that the driver would be okay with going to the airport.

I arrived at the airport at 9.45 am, I didn't have to be there officially until noon. I wanted to get there for about 11 since it's a holiday weekend. I left the hostel at 9 because I thought it'd take a while to find a taxi and I was anticipating a lot more traffic. I didn't think it would only take 45 minutes to get there. It can sometimes take 45 minutes to get a few blocks because of the heavy traffic. I've just turned a 36 hour trip into a 42 hour trip. How fun. At least I've had plenty of experience at waiting in airports from Europe. No wait is as bad as sleeping overnight in an airport on the floor next to some closed stores and constantly getting pushed around.

The two hour wait for the check-in to start was tedious and long. I found a seat and started to write yesterday's entry while glancing at the time every 5 minutes. I finally caved in and opened my bag to pull out a book Martha had given me. I took the smaller one so it would fit better in my camera bag and started to read it. I might have it finished by the time I get home. I went to the counter a few minutes early and was one of the first people in line. It was really odd to have 2 checked bags. The lady told me that I'd have to claim my bags and then re-check them in once I'm in Vancouver because of my overnight stay there. I wanted to ask "what over night stay?" since my flight is scheduled to arrive at midnight and my next one is supposed to leave somewhere between 8 - 9.30 am. I've been getting a lot of e-mails from Air Canada with changes in my flight itinerary. The changes involve the time that my flight leaves Vancouver. I'll start to look through departures at 5.30-6 in the morning to see when I'll have to go to the counter. I was quite pleased to discover that my backpack wasn't considered oversized baggage on this trip. It did go up in weight. It's now at 22.5 kilos. My smaller suitcase weighs 7.5 kilos and my camera bag is a nice 11.5 kilos. It feels like it weighs a lot less. The total weight of my bags is a whopping 41.5 kilos. I never knew I could carry so much on me at once. It really wasn't that heavy. I guess that tiller really helped me out last summer by building some muscles. Luckily I didn't have to pay any overweight fees in Beijing. I'm hoping for the same luck in Vancouver.

Once my bags were checked in I decided to get myself something to eat. It was nearing 1 and I was famished. One of the cheapest places they had to eat there was a Burger King. I got myself a chicken sandwich and fries. It was delicious. I had to pay a little more than what I initially wanted to but it was worth it. I'm not sure what kind of food will be served on the airplane or if anything would be open in Vancouver when I get there.

After lunch I made my way towards the boarding gate. There was a first initial security check point where the guard checks your boarding pass to see if you're at the right place. There's 3 different gates. Two of them are for domestic departures and the third, the one in the middle is for International departures. The domestic departures stay on the same floor while the international ones go down a set of escalators to a train terminal. The train takes you to the boarding gates. It now makes sense why I had to initially take the train with Kevin to get to our luggage. All of the international departures and arrivals are in a much further section from the rest of terminal 3. I wasn't aware of that when I first arrived. After I got off the train I had to go through customs and then another security check. Before I arrived to customs I had to go through another security check. This one was basically going through a set of gates that could detect heat. It didn't slow anybody down since it involved walking through a set of gates. Nobody was stopped near me so there weren't any problems. A lady then pointed me towards the queue line for customs.

The final security check after customs went by real quickly but the customs took forever. The guy working at the counter was so slow! He'd sit there and stare at you and then your picture for a good 5 minutes before asking if you have another piece of ID. He'd then compare that ID with your passport and then stare at you and back to your ID's for another 5 minutes before he nods and sends you through. He also spent a good few minutes feeling the paper on my passport and visa to make sure it was real. I felt a little bad for the girl in front of me because he asked the guy working next to him to compare the ID's and then he got the supervisor to come look at them too. In the end she was pulled aside and had a good 6 security officers around her comparing her ID's. She kept taking off her glasses and pulling her hair back. She seemed quite nice about the entire thing. What was driving me nuts about this was that the other officers working for customs only took 2 minutes with each individual. I had 2 people in front of me and it took nearly 30 minutes, during this time the guy next to mine had done at least 10 people.

When I finally made it through customs and the security check I browsed through some of the duty free shops. I ended up buying a lovely tea set. It's bright red with characters that signify 'happiness'. It comes with 6 matching cups. A tea set was one of the things that I wanted to get the most with my game of Go. I never got my board game since I didn't want to get soaked the day before. I don't regret not getting it since I know I can always return some day. I also plan on going to Japan some day and that game originates from there. I'll get my board game and find my own little ninja or samurai to take home with me. =D

After my little bit of shopping I made my way to my boarding gate. I settled down with my bags to wait. I had some fun watching people walk by and other planes take off. As I waited to board the plane I sawit arrive. It was different to see passengers coming off of the plane that I was about to use. I saw the staff refuel the plane and reload the supplies while taking off the baggage and putting ours onto it. It was also interesting to see foreigners come to the gate and sit down. The last 2 flights I took I was the only foreigner there. It will be really weird to be back at home and to not be a visible minority in the country.


  1. Ah, you're already starting to miss being followed and harassed by Random Asian People, aren't you? :XD: Your fame will certainly decrease back in Canada, I know for a fact that there are a few other white people who have cameras, so they might want to steal your title and celebrity status, beware! :nod:
    I've had my own experiences with airports my self, the two I rmemeber most are the first stop we made on our way to Mexico (in my 15th birthday trip). We had to change planes in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia. Those were the LONGEST AND MOST BORING 4 hours of my life. 25 people with only one set of cards and one walkman (yeah, i'm that old :P ).
    The other one was a 3 hours wait for our flight in Miami on our way back home, it was about 3 am, but at least by then I had a walkman of my own I'd bought. We also were 50 people at the time, but almost all of them were sleeping across the rows of seats, since there waas no one else waiting yet.
    They were both interesting experiences in their own way, I guess :) But your stories are far more interesting, I'm jealous, hahaha! :XD:

  2. Yes, I do miss being followed by random Asians. It's weird.
    That sounds like it would have been a boring 4 hours. >.<
    I used to have a walkman. I still have it tucked away in my night table. I think it still works too! :noes: