The only part of my holiday travel that was I was not looking forward to was the long flight plan I had for the first day. There’s very little that’s fun about air travel these days, particularly international travel which requires not only long lines through security, but also immigration. Plane seats are comfortable enough I suppose, but in economy class, they’re not that conducive to getting a night’s sleep.
|I always give my plane a good-luck pat before getting on.|
From Suvarnaboon (sp?) Airport, after a 5 hour layover (just enough to make the transit and get through all those lines), I flew via Air China to Hangchow, China’s fifth largest city, but when I’d never heard of before this trip.
I was looking forward to China. I’d never been there.
I was hoping that in my 4 and a half hour layover there, I’d get a bit of a feel for the place, even though I thought I would be stuck in the international terminal as I was only making a transit – I had a ticket for a connecting flight out of the country.
I’ve noticed that when you fly budget airlines as I do, it seems that more often than not, the plane doesn’t pull up to the terminal. Instead, it parks on the tarmac, you walk down some stairs and get on a bus to the terminal. It’s kinda annoying. Well, first think I noticed when I stepped off the plane was the cold! I was wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, and here in semi-tropical Hangchow, it was the middle of winter and the temperature was in the mid 40’s F! Brrr…
Shuffling through the airport’s small international terminal (I was
|Air China's air safety Panda admonishes you not to smoke |
in the toilet.
She asks, “You don’t have a visa?”
“And you want to enter China?”
“No, not really, I just want to catch my plane to LAX at midnight.”
“And you have no paperwork showing you have a booking?”
“It’s on my phone” (I had foolishly left my paper itinerary on the shuttle bus in Bangkok).
She makes a gesture and another immigration officer comes and escorts me back to an office. It was ominous feeling. Being taken into a back room by a burly man in uniform in a notoriously oppressive communist country? I wasn’t THAT nervous, but still… He invited me to sit and then we went through the process of connecting my phone to the airport’s wifi. In the end I got my 72-hour transit stamp and left the airport… only to have to step right back into it again to wait for the plane to LA.
As I write this, I’m back in America.