across the world over………..Voluminous echoey halls with hard floors, cool lighting & weary, foot sore travellers. I am having a couple of days away with my DH & I thought I’d share with you some of my ‘traveller’s tales’ from China………….I spent alot of my time in China, it seemed waiting, waiting, waiting……….so I wrote……this is a ‘traveller’s tale’ from my last day in China leaving from Beijing to go to Hong Kong for my flight back to Australia………my flight yet again delayed……waiting for the fog to clear, waiting for the plane to be ready, waiting for the rest of our party to catch up, waiting for a missing passenger’s luggage to come off the plane…….waiting, waiting, waiting! The third time this week I am in the press of wall to wall people. As I look around me I realize they are all the same people. I have met them a hundred times. There’s the business man/woman whose work day has been thrown into chaos by the delay, impatiently pacing up & down. On the phone to someone, explaining, apologising, juggling, harrassing staff for an answer………demanding options………. Across the way is the toddler’s mum, trying desparately to settle her little one. She is attempting to think of yet another thing she can transform into an amusment as she tries to entertain her little one & keep them from causing a disturbance. To my right are a retired couple. They are patiently & serenely taking it all in their stride. They don’t particularly have anywhere to be in a hurry – this is all just a part of the adventure of what’s left of their life. All that they have now is a time clock ticking down, which seems to be advancing at an alarming rate – any delay is a good thing for them. (Ewwwwwwwe……AND I do wish the guy with his crutch practically in my face would stop groping himself!!)………….moving on……… Beside the old couple is a teenager, lost in his own cyber world via the earbuds that have fused with his anatomy. The Group Tour people are chattering & laughing like anxious monkies. Their matching hot pink peak caps & name buttons exhort us all to ‘have a nice day’. With a change of attitude I am sure it could actually BE a nice day, however my day is already five hours old at ten in the morning & the way the day began has set the tone for it…….and it hasn’t been ‘nice’ so far! Beside me are a family………all of them sleeping and snoring. Leaning on each other, then getting uncomfortable, and leaning on me, then drifting dangerously toward the front of the seat……….waiting, waiting, waiting……..there is the late 50’s ugly Anglo Saxon guy, with the quintesential 20ish beautiful Asian (pregnant) wife…..he is mauling her like a salivating dog…….. THAT just creeps me out! Oh, and I forgot to mention the bags – the more flights that are delayed, the more people there are waiting, the more people there are, the more baggage there is, really, there is hardly room to breath……..but then it’s China – all I have wanted all week is to take a deep breath of clean air!! And still – we wait!
About an hour after the scheduled time of departure – we are shuffled on to a bus, & then eventually onto the plane….however, it was a ruse! The terminal was getting so full that the only way to clear it was so put people into planes, so here we are on the runway being served morning tea…….(it WAS a 9.30am flight & it is now 11am, so that’s probably reasonable!) The whole meal serving process takes ages, & this worries me, because obviously there are no signs of us taking off if ‘Miss China Air’ keeps coming up to people offering morning tea & drinks & we are all still allowed to use our cell phones! One and a half hours go by sitting in the plane on the run way. This is CONSIDERABLY less comfortable than being in the terminal…….apart from the ongoing challenge of me being claustrophobic……..my generously proportioned body isn’t too comfortable fitting into the cattle class seat created for someone who’s hips are the size of my upper arm! The 2 year old has lost it. He’s just screaming & sending things flying skyward…….people around are tutting & complaining, some offering words of distraction or encouragement but the littlie is on a roll…….he’s screaming for all he’s worth……..I’m over feeling taxidermed to my seat, so I get up to use the bathroom…..only to find Miss China back on her way down the isle………..this time serving LUNCH!!! I slump back into my seat with a slow groan, firmly convinced we were being used for some twisted sociological experiment I am begining to think we are NEVER going to get out. I at least have some interesting conversation – that is a redeeming part of the delay – I am seated next to a young finance professional based in Manilla, so there is some interesting discussions about climate, economic development & architecture……. & so a late morning tea rolls into a 1pm lunch………..now 3.5 hours past our scheduled take off, I now am beginning to worry that with a 3 hour flight ahead of me, my return flight back to Australia, scheduled for 7pm tonight is now in jepody. I can’t stay here another day. I must make that flight! (says SHE who has NO CONTROL what so ever over these circumstances)…….and so….again….I wait…………….
post script……..we did not arrive in Hong Kong from Beijing until 5.45pm (instead of the scheduled 12.15pm)………..it was a mad scramble to collect luggage (DON’T even ask WHY I was collecting luggage – that’s a whole other drama!) go through customs & get on to an international flight…………..I got on at 7.10pm for a 7.15pm departure – they closed the door, I sat down, put on my seat belt & we took off………to home, lovely home…….I didn’t kiss the ground……..but the air smelt like sweet purfume when I drank it in for the first time after landing.