Saturday, December 13, 2008

A trip to China

A trip to a foreign country always involves "surprise, surprise". Here's the list of surprises on the first day of my trip to China.

At immigration in the Beijing airport:
In front of the immigration officer's counter, there is a small gadget with which you can give a feedback to the service of the immigration officer who is checking your passport. You can press one of the four buttons to judge by a 4-scale measure. And this gadget is out of the immigration officer's sight, located on a small shelf on your side below the counter.

A dragon statue in front of the path to the security checks in Beijing Capital International Airport

Beijing Capital International Airport domestic departure lounge
No coffee shop around at all (Starbucks and some cafes are available before passing the security gate). The only place you can get a cup of coffee is KFC, which also serves an excellent egg tart. (In the international departure lounge, on the other hand, there are only coffee shops of mediocre quality with so-so sweets.)

Air China
Economy seats of an Air China plane flying from Beijing to Chengdu are very comfortable. Much better than a seat of SAS's plane from Stockholm to Beijing, which hurt my buttocks within an hour. The seat width is quite generous by making the corridor quite narrow.

Chengdu Airport
In the baggage claim area, three people are waiting for passengers, collecting their baggage tags to make sure no one takes a wrong suitcase.

Taxi from Chengdu Airport
Outside the airport, there is no obvious taxi stand. There was a queue of dusty taxi cars, which makes me wonder if it's safe to take these taxis. Then a young woman, dressed in tidy clothes, approached me, offering a taxi ride to my hotel. She doesn't speak English, but after I show her the name of my hotel in Chinese letters, she types 100 with her mobile phone keypad. More expensive than what I heard, which is 60 yuan. But I gave it a try. Then she took my luggage and walked towards the outside of the airport parking area for 5 minutes, by calling someone with her mobile repeatedly. Another woman who speaks a bit of English joins her, and they took me to the highway path outside the airport. Two minutes later, a car that doesn't look like a taxi comes with a male driver, and I was rushed into the front seat. Seems like they are running an illegal taxi service. So they cannot enter the airport. But the car is much luxurious than those taxis queuing just outside the airport building, and the seat was comfortable. And the driver passes many cars by changing the lane frequently on the highway. Maybe it was a good deal.

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