So last week I had to go to Shanghai to do some work. Originally, I was going to take a train, but not only have they not yet built a high-speed line between Guangzhou and Shanghai yet (so the only option is an overnight sleeper train), but all the seats were sold out a week in advance. Therefore, I had no choice but to book a flight online.
At that time, the only flight available that wasn’t at a ridiculous time or stupid expensive (I would be reimbursed, yes, but until then I have to float the costs myself) was a flight to Hangzhou, connecting with the high-speed rail to Shanghai Hongqiao Station.
Connections are a problem in China. You see, although China has a pretty fantastic rail system, their airspace is all under military control. And pretty much anyone with experience with any country’s military can probably tell you, the military is good at destroying things and not much else. This includes any plans you might have that are contingent on their competence. Here in China, flight delays are the norm, and it’s considered very strange for a flight to leave at the designated time. You may think, “Oh boy, five minutes to boarding! I’m home free!” but let me tell you, a lot can go wrong in those last five minutes. And so I found myself sitting at the terminal at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport well after my flight was supposed to have landed in Hangzhou. Fortunately, the airlines have stockpiles of food ready for passengers, and were handing out packs of crackers, bottles of water, and cans of congee. Finally, however, the plane left, and I arrived at the Hangzhou airport–well after the departure time of the train. No worries, I managed to find the airport shuttle to the train station, got a ticket, found the right bus, and trundled off regardless.
I arrived at the station around 11 PM. The station itself isn’t very large, but the ticket station was outside and around the corner. I navigated through crowds of people and a heat that seemed more proper back in Guangzhou, queued up, and finally managed to explain my situation. She printed out the old ticket, told me to exchange it at another window, and long story short, I made it onto the last train of the night just in the nick of time.
Oy. Did I mention how much I hate half-mile long cab lines? I shouldn’t have to. But I finally got to the hotel, got a room, had some sleep, met my contact there, rode to Wuxi (a quaint little town of six million people), got the work done, booked a flight back, and sat in the airport for, oh, six hours or so (they served the dinners at the gate), and finally, late in the evening, but not so late that I couldn’t take the Metro home, I arrived back home to Guangzhou, to my home, to my fluffy white bunny rabbit, and to the mess said fluffy white bunny rabbit had made of his room. Ah, home!
Here, have a couple pictures. I didn’t get to take many.