Well, that was an interesting 40 hours. No sleep, a lot of airports and a lot of homesickness. That kind of covers most of the day. However, my trip from Berlin to Beijing would’ve been a LOT worse if not for the fact that a very nice German girl (only 17 years and on her way to her second trip to China) happened to have the seat next to me. The room was terrible, honestly – I felt like canned sardines, especially when the people in front of us put their seats all the way back. I’m glad I took some asperine to prevent trombosis, because I was only able to get up twice to use the bathroom in a 9 hour flight.
Anyway, to give you guys a quick overview of my journey:
Alarm goes off at home, and I’m packed and ready to go. We (my parents, my brother and me) leave at 07:00 to Dusseldorf.
After check-in and a lot of wandering around the airport, I said goodbye to my parents. After going through the baggage check, I felt terrible for about fifteen minutes, then decided to use my brother’s tip – when you feel bad, take three really deep breaths and then just shake it off. Turn your head in the right direction and just -go-.
Arrival in Berlin, together with a 3-hour layover. Of course, the gate and check-in was in a completely different terminal than my boarding pass said, so that was fun – almost missed the plane… okay not quite, but I just wanted to add a little drama.
Flight to Beijing – not fun. The fact that Anna was there (the German girl) helped a lot, but the seat was uncomfortable, I didn’t understand a thing the stewardesses wanted to tell me and I almost had a claustrophobia attack when the guy in front of me suddenly put his seat all the way backwards when my tray thing was down. And it was long, and the plane was hot. So hot, I couldn’t sleep without getting dizzy from the heat…
So, I think that was one of the hardest moments of the trip. That flight, then having to say goodbye to Anna (who was on a connecting flight to Shanghai) and then having a very nice guy from the airport (or so I assumed) asked to see my ticket and then offered to guide me to the correct terminal and check-in counter. Well, a lesson well learned when he then asked me for money. Okay, when he said that I was a bit like “Okay, well yeah I’ve heard of this, should’ve known that. Oh well, he did bring my 30kg suitcase to the other side of the airport, so I’ll give him a tip.” Turned out the money machine only had 100 Yuan bills (it’s around 8,21 Yuan to 1 Euro) so I gave him one of those – only to have him get extremely insulted when I then refused to give him another 100 and later another 50. So he just walked off. Can’t say that felt like a very warm welcome into China…
Anyway, I was really tired and had to wait in Beijing for 7 hours for the next flight. I didn’t feel comfortable sleeping with all my stuff with me though, and I couldn’t check in my bags until two hours before the flight – so I just sat. And sat. And felt bad.
Oh and it figures that the metal detector would go off when I’m going through it, right? So I got groped by a Chinese girl… Which wasn’t a disaster on it’s own, but by the time I got back to my hand luggage it was kind of banged up because a large group of other people went through customs as well. And seeing how I had to put my laptop on the conveyor belt on it’s own (had to do that for all three flights, which meant unpacking and packing the entire back every time) I wasn’t very happy with that.
ANYWAY. I guess the journey is the first step of an adventure like this and doesn’t have to set the tone. I was tired, had just said goodbye to my family and was thrown into a culture so vastly different than I am used to, I can’t blame myself for feeling really homesick at times. And the good news is, when I arrived in Hangzhou I even managed to tell myself it was going to be alright, and when I saw a very friendly looking little Chinese girl (who has Chibi’s on her phone and a Hello Kitty touchpad) with my name on a piece of paper I was very relieved and actually just quite… relaxed. Quite a long taxi-ride later, we arrived at a complex. I couldn’t really see anything because it was dark, so I just followed the nice girl into the flat I figured I was going to live in. When she then proceeded to take me into the elevator and pushed the “20” button, my heart leapt a bit – and yes, my apartment is on the 20th floor of the flat. So I have an amazing view of a part of the city in two directions (it’s also a corner apartment). I have a small kitchen, two couches, some other furniture, a double bed and my own bathroom – with a normal toilet (thank god) and a shower which just gave me the best shower I’ve ever had. After 40 hours of flying, running, sweating and stressing it felt really good to take a cold shower.
Oh and I have an air conditioning, which is not to be underestimated with these temperatures!!! I think it’s 35 here during the day, and quite humid – we’re close to the sea.
Anyway, it’s about time I got some sleep. It’s 10:41 here now, and I basically left at 07:00 yesterday morning. So yeah… time to turn in 😉 Oh and the pictures will have to wait until I get my own Wifi, the stuff I’m borrowing from a network nearby had too weak a signal to handle that…