Tag Archives: “This is China”

Travel Woes – update

We finally took off and arrived in Beijing at 3.00am.  However, none of the passengers on our flight had their luggage, including me.  I had travelled in jeans, t-shirt and flip flops – not the attire for business meetings!  I thought that my bag would make it the next day, but no such luck.  I was in Beijing for a large customer conference and many of our very Senior Executives had travelled to China to attend this.  I had met some colleagues in the convention hotel bar and to my dismay, most of these Execs were in the same bar.  I am now at the end of Day 2 wearing the same outfit (and flip flops) and not exactly dressed for Executive interaction.  However, after explaining my predicament, no-one held it against me!

Still no sign of my bag and Cathay Pacific were so unhelpful with no opinion on where my bag was, never mind when it would be delivered.  So, off to the mall for some shopping for me.  Everything was so expensive and I needed so much for just a few days – make up, toiletries, underwear, shoes and a couple of outfits.  The worst thing was not being able to find any shoes that fit me and I do not have big feet!!  I ended up spending 3 times more than I have ever spent on a pair of shoes.  Even worse…… they are so uncomfortable and I am not sure I will wear them very much!!!!

Finally, on Day 4 (at 2.00am, so just about Day 4) there is a knock on my hotel door to let me know that my bag has been delivered.  Thank goodness, my feet would have some relief with my favourite comfy shoes.

Perhaps this is a lesson to not check a bag when travelling. 🙂

Travel woes

This has certainly been an interesting 24 hours.  I flew from Shanghai to Hong Kong yesterday afternoon.  The flight was delayed because of a Typhoon in the Hong Kong area.  When we finally arrived, we were parked out on the tarmac and the flight crew had to give everyone plastic macs to de-plane, which we did into a T8 gale and fierce rain!  It took over an hour for my luggage to come through on the carousel and then I got told that the wait for taxi’s would be over 2 hours.  I decided to brave the train system and 1 hour after that, finally made it to the hotel – 1.30am!

This morning I got a message from the customer that I was suppposed to be meeting, that we were now cancelled because of the Typhoon (everything shuts down in Hong Kong when it gets to a T8+ status, and it reached a T10 last night).  I am only in Hong Kong for that meeting!!!!  The rain was so heavy last night that it sounded like hail against my 28th floor hotel room windows.  The wind was howling and shaking the building…….

I decide to work from the hotel room this morning and then I get a text from the airline informing me that my flight to Beijing this afternoon has been cancelled.  I immediately call our Travel Help desk and they re-book me on a later flight but I decide that I will probably have more luck at the airport (with prior USA experience of being a seasoned air traveller).  Little did I know that the experience of being a frequent flier in the USA does NOT compare to Asia.  At least in America, they are quick to give updates and do that frequently to calm the angry, travel weary person. 

As soon as I arrived at the airport I was booked onto a 3.15pm flight (along with a travelling colleague).  However, as soon as we had moved through security and customs clearance we saw that our flight was cancelled.  (We both have checked bags on that flight).  I have been sitting in Hong Kong airport all afternoon and been transferred to 2 different flights (I have no idea where my bag is at this point).  The desk is so unhelpful because the Airport Authority here do not update their systems!!!!!  So, none of the helpful American style updates here!  Michele and I have been to the desk twice each so far and get different stories each time!  I have witnessed the worst in human behavior with extreme yelling, screaming, crying and threatening physical abuse.  I have to admire the staff across the board for keeping their cool in the midst of all that anger and emotion – these are the times when it must really suck to be in customer service. 

We decided to camp out in DragonAir’s club lounge thinking we would not see so much of the yelling and screaming, but it doesn’t matter where you go, there will always be obnoxious people.

I don’t think I will make it out of here tonight.  I am contemplating booking myself into a hotel and trying again tomorrow.  What a wasted trip all round……

More interesting shopping

Owen took this photo on a recent shopping trip.  The children’s paddling pool is in the middle of the fish section, filled with fresh fish, turtles and frogs.  The woman sitting next to the pool was catching fish with her bare hands.  Fresh fish for dinner has a different meaning here!

Fish, frog or turtle for dinner?

Fish, frog or turtle for dinner?

Furniture moving – the Chinese way

When we first moved into our home here, we had organized for the landlord to rent us some furniture until our container arrived.  The day before our shipment was due to be delivered, we needed all the furniture taken away so we would have room for our own stuff.  Owen assumed that they would show up with a truck, but this is actually how they moved everything:

Sofa - on a bicycle!

Sofa – on a bicycle!

Table, 4 chairs, 2 bedside tables - on a bicycle

Table, 4 chairs, 2 bedside tables – on a bicycle

All the bicycles are lined up ready to remove the rest of the rented furniture – lamps, beds, armchairs, chest of drawers……  Absolutely amazing!

Dragon Boat Festival

The ancient cultural holiday of the Dragon Boat Festival occurs on the 5th day of the 5th Chinese lunar month.  For the western calendar, this fell on June 23rd this year and Friday was a holiday – a lovely long weekend.  As legend has it, the festival began when a famous exiled poet named Qu Yuan, drowned himself in a river in 277 B.C.   Local people did not want to see Qu’s body eaten by the fish so they started throwing food, such as Zongzi, into the river, and some fisherman began racing their boats out to save him.    Chinese citizens now throw bamboo leaves filled with cooked rice into the water.  Therefore the fish could eat the rice rather than their hero poet.  Over the years this has turned into the custom of eating tzungtzu and rice dumplings.  The tradition has continued year after year to honor Qu Yuan, and the constant beat of the drums, and paddles splashing into the water, are sounds that have marked this time of year in China for centuries.  The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated by boat races in the shape of dragons.  Competing teams row their boats forward to a drumbeat racing to reach the finish end first. 

 The celebration is a time for protection from evil and disease for the rest of the year.  It is done so by different practices such as hanging healthy herbs on the front door, drinking nutritious concoctions, and displaying portraits of evil’s nemesis, Chung Kuei.  If one manages to stand an egg on it’s end at exactly 12:00 noon, the following year will be a lucky one.

Dragon Boat Festival in Shanghai

Dragon Boat Festival in Shanghai

Juggling Act

I am not very good at Juggling.  This week, Owen is back in the UK and I am trying to juggle being a mum full time and work full time.  It just doesn’t work and I am failing at both.

In the continuing on-going saga of the medical coverage here, Owen has had to return to the UK at very short notice to meet with his UK Doctors.  We have International Medical insurance for our time in China and are also registered with an International Medical facility here.  At first glance, this is state of the art, with modern equipment, English speaking Doctors and staff, clean facilities and very professional looking surroundings.  However, it is almost impossible to get a straight answer and the answer can change from week to week.  Consequently, information we were given on our look/see visit in December has proven to be false and has left Owen unable to get some of the medication that he takes to alleviate the back pain he continually suffers with.  So, it is back to the UK for Owen this week.  I hope he comes back……..

Meanwhile, I am juggling school bus stop drop off, pick up, dinner, laundry, homework, remembering and planning for all the different school activities, commuting, meetings, deadlines, projects and conference calls.  For only 4 days. 

Luckily, the Ex-pat community really do support one another.  My meeting ran late yesterday and I was cutting it fine to get back in time for the school bus drop off.  1 quick text and my mind was put at rest with an immediate offer to collect them and keep them until I got there (I was 5 minutes late!)

This week I feel like a total failure at everything.  I really don’t know how single mothers cope – to my mind it is impossible to do it all.  I am so grateful for such a supportive husband who takes care of so much that I often take for granted.  Never again!!!!!!!


Lost in translation

I passed this sign and the spelling made me laugh: