6 Things to do when entering China for the first time

beijing-palace-gate

From someone who didnt

I came into China on the Air Asia flight D72626 which lands at Chengdu Shuangilu International Airport from Kuala Lumpur. It lands just before 11pm…..

1.Check the temperature prior to leaving and have a jacket if that temperature is in the 6 degree area…it can be really chilly in a t-shirt and shorts..

2. Check where the airport is and what the best way might be to get from the airport to the accommodation you booked

3. Actually have some accommodation booked, particularly when your flights landing at 11pm at an airport, and country for that matter, that you have never been before

4. Have some sort of map…

5. have some of the local currency

6.Dont forget to buy that phrase book before you leave, it will be handy when you land late at night and theres a limited staff on shift and none that speak english….particularly when you have no accommodation booked, no money and no idea…

Theres no spreading out across seats and having an airport nap, which I considered as an option to get around my non-existent trip preparation, theres just no seats! It is really not that sort of airport. Hmmmm, theres an Internet cafe….i could just book 7 hours of Internet time, tie my bag to my leg and sleep in that comfy looking chair……

Fortunately for me I was lucky enough to find a airport officer that could understand that I needed somewhere to stay…he asked me to take a seat and started making calls. After a few calls, he turned to me with a stay seated hand gesture and said ‘someone coming’…Hmmmm, is this the bit where I get locked up? Do they lock people up for stupidity in China, possibly…

Ten minutes later a guy turned up, waiving and smiling, who then led me up stairs and outside where we jumped into an old car. Yep, i was hurtling down a dark road in a foreign country late on a cold misty night with someone who I couldnt communicate with.

Occasionally the driver would turn to me giving a little smile, which was kinda comforting as it wasnt a ‘im going to get paid’ smile, I could actually see that he felt under pressure somewhat to resolve my problem. I wonder what the airport official had said…

Some way down a highway and off again we ended up a hotel where there was someone waiting to greet me with a big hello in english, I thought phew, ok this is good. But unfortunately, he had the same level of english as I have of mandarin, we can both just say hello…

I took about another half an hour to stumble our way through pictures and hand waiving to to get through the fact that I didnt have any Yuan, not enough US dollars, and ringgits (i still had some malaysian money) were useless, and my credit card may have well as been a plastic ruler…

Time went on as various discussions, that i couldnt understand, broke out between the now four or five people who were perhaps all amused at the dumb foreigner in front of them! At one point one of the girls at the reception desk started speaking in a raised voice, and i heard the word ‘hollywood’….oh no…they think i’m american……

Luckily the driver had a flash of brilliance and looked at my card, then rang someone, who then rang back and then he looked at me and laughed and said ‘ATM’, ‘yes’ I said with a big smile and off we went in the car to the ATM….

With the 300rmb ($50 aud) handed over I was shown to the room….. yes $50, at midnight they came to the airport picked me up, then drove me to ATM, and gave me a room with a decent bed, shower… I really appreciate what they had done…and their honesty…

As I settled in the room I really started to consider the stupidity of what I was doing or at least the stupidity of things I hadnt done or planned! I needed to find somewhere where i felt safe, comfortable and could focus on getting orientated.

Fortunately that night I managed to get my laptop connected to someones wifi network long enough to find a hotel in Chengdu that handled international visitors, had english speaking staff and a high star rating to protect (star ratings are issued by the government). I found the Tibet Hotel Chengdu, tomorrow I would go there….