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So, I Wasn’t As Ready As I Thought

PEK Airport, Beijing

One would think getting to their country of choice would be relatively easy. I, for one, thought I’d be able to get to Japan without a hitch, considering I planned out for months what I was going to do, where I was going during my layovers, and what I was going to do when I arrived in Japan. Little did I know how wrong I was.

It started with the flight. Without informing me of any changes, the flight had changed overnight from 1AM instead of the scheduled 2PM for departure. That meant that I had missed my flight by 13 hours and there was no guarantee of being able to get onto the next available flight. On my way to the airport, I called Air China’s customer service but was left on hold for 30 minutes before they ended the call abruptly. The dead-end customer service (or complete lack thereof) only stressed me out more. At this point, my only option was to demand for an explanation at the Air China desk at the airport.

After much worrying, panic, and debate, they concluded that my flight had not actually been switched over to the 1AM flight, and I was still due for the 2PM flight. Everything was FINE after all.

The flight to the Beijing Peking Airport was 12 hours with a 15 hour layover. We would land at 6PM and head for Tokyo the next morning at 9AM. I obviously did not want to stay at the airport for 15 hours. Plus I was in Beijing for the first time of my life! What I needed was a bed and a plan. It looked something like: temporary visa, hotel, taxi, maybe some sightseeing.

How hard can it be?

Well, bear with me here.

When I arrived in PEK Airport, no one spoke English. But it’s China, so of course they’re speaking Chinese. What was unexpected was how completely done they looked with me when I asked them how to get to the Air China counter for a transit hotel. Some workers rolled their eyes and passed me onto someone else when I asked for clarification, while other people tried to point me to the right direction. But the right direction kept me going in circles. Long story short, I was stuck at the airport for at least 2 hours before I even got to book my transit hotel.

The airport was over 90 degrees, stuffy, and humid. The effort it took to get to the hotel was absolutely worth it though. I have never been more in need of a shower and a bed.

It was my fault that I didn’t set a concrete plan, and maybe it would have helped if I had learn the basics of the language before landing. I was so close to giving up and staying at the airport for the whole 15 hours by the end of the second hour, but I’m glad I didn’t. Plus, the hotel had a free breakfast buffet of delicious Chinese cuisine. A free shuttle to and from the hotel was also provided by Air China, so in all I got a free room, transportation, and breakfast.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to explore Beijing but well – we get some, we lose some.

Lesson learned: Be prepared for language barriers, and ready for complications.

PEK Airport, Beijing


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