I have been pondering how I was going to start my first blog from China and then the words came to me, “You guys are not going to believe this.” The day was filled with ups and downs but ultimately ended on a very disappointing note. So let me get started. We left Salt Lake on time and had a good flight to San Fran. After getting seated in San Fransisco we were told there was a problem with our seats as they had overbooked. Lucky for us, Mark and I were moved up to First Class which was wonderful so we had a great flight to Beijing. When we landed a medical crew came on board wearing goggles and huge masks on their faces. They took everyone’s temperature with a device held in front of your forehead and luckily everyone was healthy on our flight so we were able to leave the plane. As we walked down the hallways another temperature check was taken like someone was taking your picture and 5 people in front of us were pulled aside. Even being healthy made the walk a little nerve wracking. We picked up our bags and rechecked them to fly to Harbin to attend a wedding for Mark’s co-worker. A Burger King was discovered and I decided to enjoy my last western meal for awhile. Almost all the sandwiches listed said spicy but I got just the regular. It was delicious even though it was really 2:00 am. US time.
I was all set to board the plane for our next 2 hour flight and have a nice long rest. You are all probably thinking this sounds okay. The flight was okay until it was time to land in Harbin which was having a terrible storm so after circling a few times we landed 30 minutes away at the next closest airport. We sat on the plane for 2 hours when they decided to try to get to Harbin again. Just as we were getting ready to land for the second time, I could just feel the change as we started going up at a very fast pace instead of down. We then returned back to the nearest airport and were told that was it for the night. It was now 11:00pm. China time so I had been up around 30 hours. I was surprised at how calm everyone stayed as they paraded us off the airplane into shuttle buses to take us to a hotel for the night. It was very difficult at times since we had no clue of what was happening and no one was really saying anything. After arriving at the hotel and standing in line we were given a key to a room and basically told the plane would leave some time in the morning. Luckily for us Mark was able to find a small store at the hotel which they opened up so he could get his water. Once in the room we discovered the air conditioning did not really work, and I would not walk around in bare feet, but the sheets were clean so we were happy to go to sleep after traveling over 30 hours.
A wake up call came at 7:00 to say breakfast was ready so Mark and I showered and we headed down. We obviously arrived after the crowd so there were not too many choices. I had a small bowl of rice which was about all I could take. It did look like they had served hard boiled eggs, and water melon, so we headed to the store so I could buy a breakfast for a Champion as Matt would say. Who would have thought blueberry chips could taste so good. I was pleased to get my fruit in.
Mark and I packed up our carry on (thank goodness I packed some clothes in my carry on) and headed down to the lobby just to wait to hear when we would leave. After sitting for an hour we were told the plane would leave at 10:00 which is when the wedding was taking place. So at that point we knew we were going to miss the wedding but hoped we would get there for the reception to follow. We drove back to the airport and once again I was surprised how quiet everyone was as we walked thru the airport to the board the plane. While in line we met a family from China who has been living in DC. for the last 10 years so they were able to translate the news to us. After waiting for 40 minutes we were told the plane was delayed due to weather and they had no idea when it would leave. At that point we knew we would miss the whole celebration. Here I thought I only had problems flying home from China. Needless to say it was very depressing so we just sat to wait it out.
While waiting we noticed an old couple carrying these very heavy cartons around, so our new friends asked what they had and they were very happy to share some fruit with us. I have never seen this fruit and no one knew the English translation so they called it a Chinese plum. It was delicious. The old couple did not want their pictures taken but finally agreed.
Now a few hours had passed and the natives were getting restless and the yelling started which is what I expected hours ago. It actually got a little scary as I half expected a riot to start. The people just wanted to fly they didn’t care that it wasn’t safe. After 3 more hours we were told the flight would leave and we loaded on the buses to go to the plane. While I was standing on the bus this young man ran around me obviously trying to get away from the security for arguing, and one of the flight attendants took my boarding pass ( still don’t know why) so I said to Mark, “this just isn’t fun anymore.” At that point I got my boarding pass back and we got back on the plane. The flight back to Harbin was uneventful, so I just tried to think happy thoughts about living in China since this was not the start I was hoping for. I was happy as they were able to land the plane (4:00 pm.), and we were able to get to our nice hotel. The Shangri-La really is quite nice and I am starting to feel happy to be back again in China.
We changed and went over to visit with the bride and groom which I will write about tomorrow. Still have some jet lag going on. Will be happy to sleep on a nice soft bed.