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The Return to China

Posted by TravellingStrom on September 24, 2012

Mayan Prophecy Countdown

Sunday was a rest day, a proper one, I had nothing to do, the bike was out of my hands, my gear was all sorted out, I was free from any task, so I used it wisely. That is I spent some time doing some blog updates, I read a book, I drank some beer and vodka šŸ™‚ I had that cheap arse bottle to finish off, but although I made a valiant effort I ended up giving half of it to Wim, the Belgian biker. I had an early night as I was heading off to the airport real early!

The taxi arrived on time at 8am and we headed off. I had an 11am flight and needed to be there 2 hours prior, but things went against us from the start, we got stuck in traffic, a massive jam šŸ˜¦ My taxi driver was aggressive though and took us down the dirt and weaved in and out to try and get us there on time!!! I really hate the traffic here, there are no rules except one, get to the front, in any way shape or form otherwise you will wait for ever, actually it can be fun, if you are the driver!!!

On the way we passed many construction zones, they are building heaps of new high rise apartments. It seems that during the winter, when the smog is cold and heavy it really chokes the city. So, what causes the smog is the enormous amount of Gers in the town, nearly every backyard has one or more and each of them belches thick wood smoke from the heaters šŸ˜¦ The only problem I can see is how will the people be able to afford these new residences? The city cannot just give them away, and the city does not seem to care about the people anyway, if they did, they would use some of the road tax money and fill in all them potholes, some of which can swallow cars!

One of the consequences of all the bad roads are the broken down cars and the accidents. What generally happens is this, the car in front is going slow because it can see a pothole and weaves around it, the car behind decides he is going to slow and slips up the inside(or the outside if there is no oncoming traffic, um, well sometimes even if there is!!!), but when this occurs on an intersection, well, then they have a bingle. In this case, the small car slips up the inside, the concrete agitator was intending to turn right, guess who wins!!!?

Because of this major traffic jam down near the railway station, (who said 8am Monday was a good time to travel), we ended up taking the back road like we had used the other day and this was a lumpy bumpy road, worse than the city roads, but it was faster, even if we did bottom out a few times. We got to the airport in time, that is when I found out I had misread the flight time, it was not 11am, it was 1155am, so I was now 1 hour too early to book in, go figure LOL, but it is better than being late.

It all went as planned though, I checked in, the plane flew with some nice views of the river and flood plains in this valley(in fact those river systems are exactly what the roads do here, go everywhere except in a straight line), and I arrived safely in the very smoggy city of Beijing where I had to go through customs checking again. My flight was not direct to Shenzen, so it meant a plane change and a 3 hour layover. But it gave me a chance to sort out my SIM card. I needed to call Murray, my sisters partner who works and lives down there. The issue seemed to be my SIM card was not working, No Service? This was strange as we had all bought China SIM cards when we first entered China which should have been active everywhere? But, after talking to the local phone company people, who all have offices at the airport, it just needed to be activated for ‘roaming’. It would cost a bit more for each call but I was not intending using it a lot anyway, mainly for 3G. So, once that was sorted out I called Murray and sent him a text outlining my arrival time, of 8.30 that night, he was going to pick me up. I had plenty of time to grab a snack, then I went and waited at the gate 37, which was printed on my boarding pass. Hmmm, it looks pretty lonely down here, what’s going on, I double check the pass and the gate info and yes, my flight leaves from here in 30 minutes??? ā“

Well, what a stuff up, as the time clicks down I sort of get a tad worried. I check the gate board again, this is a free standing board in front of the gate which has the number 37 on it, check, but it also has, in small LED scrolling text at the bottom a message saying in Chinese(with an English translation) this flight has been moved to gate 15, bugger!!!! I bolt to the other end of the airport and do get there in time, phew and board, and wait. And Wait and Wait, WTF, I have no idea what is going on but when I quizzed a slightly English speaking hostess, she told me there are major storms happening and so the flight will be an hour or so late, or something to that effect! Oh well, I texted Murray who said he is 2 hours from the airport and just let him know the landing time, easier said than done. In the end we left an hour and a half later than scheduled, but the flight went well and it seems the storms were at the Shenzen end, and rather than letting us leave and circle, the decision was made to make us wait on the ground, a good decision. šŸ™‚ For those that don’t know, Shenzen is in the Guandong province of China which borders onto Hong Kong way down on the south coast. Murray picked me up at around 10pm and we went back to his apartment on the 25th floor of a high rise and it is a stone’s throw from the border, as it turns out only 30 minutes from the airport, but he was working at a location a fair way away. We have known each other for quite a few years, but not well, as he and my sister lived in Brisbane mainly and so we met infrequently. We had a chance to get really acquainted for a change and beer was involved until the wee hours in this steamy city. It looks like it will be a change for the better as the temperature up there in Mongolia was cool to freezing and no way would I be sitting on the balcony drinking cold beer like I am now. šŸ™‚

Cheers from Shenzen, China

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