Noilly Prattle: China 2017: 2 - Air travel from hell

Friday, April 7, 2017

China 2017: 2 - Air travel from hell

      I wouldn't want anyone to imagine that travel means just sunny days sipping Margaritas under low-slung palms and soft breezes with sussurating reefs and aquamarine breakers gently nipping at your toes. Nah and no, travel can be gritty and arduous. Listen . . .

     Travel arrangements to Xi'an did not go smoothly. We thought an hour would be enough for check in at Okayama Airport (to avoid getting up at the crack of dawn), but there was a long security line for two flights leaving around the same time in the early morning. We had no check in baggage but had to go through two security checks anyhow. By the time we finally got through the second security check all the other passengers had boarded so we were the last ones to board, or almost the last, departure was delayed to await one more passenger. Take off was through a low heavy cloud ceiling but smooth enough. Have you ever noticed how all your senses are hyper alert on take offs and landings--listening for unusual sounds from the engines and sensing banking turns and little turbulence bumps that deviate from the smoothness of the ascent or descent?


Pudong Airport Immigration 
       The weather for landing at Shanghai's Pudong Airport was the same heavy cloud and low ceiling so that the ground only became visible near the actual touch down. The immigration line at Pudong was horrendous and we didn't have much time to spare for transit to the flight to Xi-an. By the time we finally got through immigration and reached the boarding gate it was already closed so that we missed the flight.

      Our travel agent had said there was no other flight to Xi'an that day. Anxiously wondering what to do we retraced our steps to the China Eastern Airlines check in counter and explained what had happened. Fortunately they were able to schedule another flight for two hours later (the travel agent had happily been wrong). I emailed the hotel from the airport and asked them to change our pick up for the new arrival time and our driver was waiting at the Xi-an Airport thanks to the efficiency of the Aurum Hotel staff. Yay staff!


      The drive, in from the airport, was tedious and morbidly interesting in that it was so unsightly with smoggy skies, smoking factory chimneys and endless depressing looking rows of high rise apartment blocks—a hazy grayish brown color predominating.


Beautifully preserved and maintained wall of Ancient Xi'an lit up in the evening

     Soon after transiting the dreary burbs, however, the city wall of Ancient Xi'an came into view at dusk and, once through the looking glass, the scene was transformed by red lanterns gaily lining the streets until we reached our hotel. 


     After a rather stressful day (beyond the normal stress of air travel) we were pretty wasted and our hotel room looked very inviting (except for the view) so we stayed in had an interesting hot pot dinner in the hotel restaurant, crashed early and woke up with heavy heads--not particularly surprising under the circumstances.

the view

No comments: