We woke early to finish our packing. We also had plans to quickly head into the Forbidden City to see what we could see in about an hour, but first, I checked our flights. Flight from Beijing to Shanghai at 2pm? Check. Flight from Shanghai to Sydney? Ummmmm.....
It wasn't there! Cue panic.
I went downstairs and called China Eastern Air (they had a "speak to someone who speaks English option) - our 8pm flight had been cancelled and they had very kindly put us on the 23:55pm flight. That's right - 5 minutes to midnight, also commonly called the "red eye". At least we weren't stranded in Shanghai - we just had to spend quite a few hours exploring Pudong International Airport!
This sorting out of flights took a while and so we just ditched the Forbidden City idea and got in our pre-booked Honda Odyssey with all our luggage at 11am, to sit in some nasty Beijing traffic for the hour it took to travel 17km to the airport.
We figured out where to check in after a couple of false attempts. It was with some concern that we waved goodbye to our luggage that was supposedly checked all the way through to Sydney!
When we went through security did the full-body pat-down (all four of us). The lady who did mine was confused by the bullet-shaped item in my pants pocket. I tried to explain it was for "lady things" when finally the penny dropped and recognition lit up her face. They generally don't use such things in China. It was kind of funny!
And so to find something to eat - the only restaurant in the airport had some interesting choices - I only managed one photo before someone starting shouting at me (which meant "no photos!").
|I'm pretty sure I managed to find some chicken instead.|
The hour-long flight from Beijing to Shanghai wasn't too bad - we didn't get anything to eat, but I didn't mind too much.
Have I mentioned that they love their rules in China? You had better make sure there's no "dabbling" going on:
|So of course, the thing to do is "dabble"!!!|
Pudong International Airport at Shanghai is huge!
By now, it was nearly 6pm, so we decided to have our last meal in Asia. Video Boy must have been feeling homesick, because he ordered spaghetti bolognaise, which he proclaimed as being "the best."
We had a heap of time to kill before our flight, so we decided that because we missed the bullet train in Beijing, we'd have a go on the Maglev Train in Shanghai. It takes you from the airport into Shanghai (30km) in 7 minutes and 20 seconds and reaches speeds in excess of up to 431km/hr (268mph!!).
|Trying to buy tickets|
Our trip only went up to 300 km/hr - but that was plenty fast enough for me!!
We had intended just to ride the train into Shanghai, stay on board and then come back. But no. In non-existent English, the guard insisted we had to get off. This is despite all the people queued up to get on board - just right there. No. We had to get off, go down the escalators, out the turnstiles, back in the turnstiles, up the escalators and then wait for the next train because the one we were on had left already. Chinese bureaucracy.
|You don't want to get in the way of a train travelling at 300 km/hr. Just sayin'.|
Back at Shanghai Airport, we settled in for a long wait for our flight home. Luckily, there were excellent shops, where we shopped much more successfully for souvenirs than we did in Beijing. There were also great charging stations, which was handy before the flight. The time went relatively quickly, although we didn't board until after midnight.
This was easily the longest flight I've ever been on. Being squished in cattle-class for a 10 hour flight whilst being sick is not my idea of a fun time. The babies on board were none-too-thrilled either, judging by their crying. Thank goodness for eye-masks and ear-plugs, which I had packed four weeks ago in anticipation of this moment. A weird "dinner" at 2am (5am Sydney time) and then attempt at sleep. Video Boy managed the best of all of us. Teenage boys, huh?
And so, after 4 weeks, 6 countries, and a 26 hour trip home, we arrived at Sydney Airport! And more importantly, our luggage was there, which is more than I can say for Panda Girl who wandered off to go to the toilet. There we were, tired, cranky and looking for a lost daughter in Sydney Airport. She eventually turned up....grrrr.
My sister-in-law very kindly waited for us to get through customs in a final big queue (it was amazing the stuff people tried to get in without declaring) and took us back to her place where she had kindly minded our car. After a cup of tea, it was in the car for the 3 hour drive home.
It was amazing to smell the eucalyptus in the park on the pit-stop on the way home! It was stunning to smell the ocean when we got home! It was great to see all the trees! The dog was so excited to see us (he was minded by a lovely friend who also house-sitted). The house seemed super-tidy and soooo big! And we had Aloe Vera tissues!!! Bliss! And no queues.
It was a great trip and I'm so glad I could share it with you and hope you enjoyed it too. I think, looking back, that it was a great experience that we all can look back on with fond memories. It has certainly whetted our appetite for further travels (budget permitting!). But travel also makes you appreciate what you have at home - fresh air, open space, all your "stuff", the internet!
Give us a bit of time to recover, but I'm sure we'll find another good deal to go somewhere else exciting and I'm hoping I'm still blogging and will able to share it with you :-)