Saturday, March 14, 2009

Guangzhou: The First Mishap

As usual, I was asleep in the airplane, and the next thing I saw was the terminal building of Bayun International Airport in Guangzhou. I was groggy, but I managed to wash my face and pick my bag at the fastest time that I could because I needed an internet connection badly.

Before taking off, I decided to stay at the Novotel Baiyun Airport, which cost around P4,000 a night based on my research on Agoda.com. I was just tired. I also decided to take a flight to Lijiang, my first destination which was also the furthest. I was going to work my way backwards. I came up to the lobby of the posh Novotel and asked for the cheapest room. They told me the rooms were booked. I only had the choice of a VIP Suite or a Business Room.


I was taken aback at first. I decided to take out my laptop and hope that there was wifi in the lobby. There was, but only for check-in guests. The thought of heading onwards to the city center popped out several times, but I leaned towards getting the room. I was really tired, a bit angry at myself for not making the booking before I left for China. And besides I wanted to take a morning flight to wherever, so I settled in a Business Room, at 900 RMB, around P6,000.


The picture above describes the first mishap of my trip. Yes, what a room. It was in fact a very luxurious room. The glass bath wall that had an electronic curtain, the several toiletries "freebies" and the very comfortable bed. I laughed at myself for getting the room while I took down my backpack. But I didn't waste time, I had to start planning. I took out my laptop, and logged on to Elong.net and Ctrip.com, two of the biggest and most reliable China tour websites that offered cheap domestic air tickets. You see, in China, you cannot book a flight online just like what we do in CEBPAC. Especially when you're a foreigner with a foreign credit card, booking flights online is a pain. And that's just what happened to me for the next 4 hours.

I logged on to elong and had my 2nd mishap. The flight to Lijiang was fully booked, leaving me with the business class option. Now, I just won't splurge on that, so I took out my map of China and revisited my preferred destinations. After calculating costs and plotting routes, and deciding on what I really wanted to do, I finally came up with a route.


I decided to fly from Guangzhou to Guilin, 400 RMB one way. Getting the tickets at 1AM was an ordeal. I had to call the 24-hour service several times, trying to make the booking. I also had to submit a photocopy of my passport, visa and credit card. Good thing I had these prepared earlier. What I didn't prepare was a confirmation form, which must be faxed or emailed with my signature. I used my digital signature, but they didn't allow it. So I had to take a photo of the form (which again I printed out earlier for any emergency) that I filled out by hand and emailed that to them. At 2AM, I got my ticket to Guilin.


The flight to Guilin was at 10AM, so after a breakfast in the executive lounge of the hotel, I headed straight to the check in desk. It was already 9AM, quickly searched for the desk of China Southern Airlines Counter no. 43. When I got there, there was no line, and no attendant. I panicked, for I read signs of the counters closing 45 minutes before departure. I came exactly 45 minutes before. It turned out that there was a line for all China Southern passengers, which also included my destination. That was a major relief.

I checked in, moved into immigration and security checks easily. When I got to the gate, boarding began, so I walked straight in the plane. I was stressed with all the wrong things happening so far, but so relieved to be on the plane. And as usual, I dozed off, waking up landing on the foggy Guilin runway an hour later.

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