This is my experience in Beijing, China in the Summer of 2009.
If you came to this webpage first, it's better if you
start from the beginning of the story.
Saturday, August 1
Flight to USA
Didn't get enough sleep last night. Partly because I spent some time
packing my stuff for the airport. Partly because I had a bad stomach ache.
I just have to watch what I eat and not eat a lot.
Anyway, I wanted to see Susan off at the train station.
We took a taxi from the hotel. Traffic was as heavy as I remember
it from last time. It took a good 45 minutes to get there.
I got back to the hotel a little before 1pm and
had only an hour before I had to checkout.
Fortunately, my hotel room was still connected to the Interet.
I handled a few support calls and called a few friends to say goodbye.
The hour was way too short.
I checkout of the hotel at 2pm but my ride to the airport arrives at 5pm.
So I have time to kill.
I decide to go to the hotel's business center to use their internet.
Their ethernet internet service was incredibly expensive! They wanted $3 RMB PER MINUTE
without any cap! That's $180RMB per hour! (Over $26USD per hour!) When I mentioned I was a hotel guest.
The business center lady suggested I try their wifi connection which was $90RMB per hour or
$120RMB for 24 hours.
I went for the 24 hour plan since I was going to be there for over 2 hours.
Still expensive but bearable.
As an aside, I meet Mac King and Mike Caveney at the business center.
They were the MCs at the two stage shows.
Where else but Beijing? :)
Serena Chu, another local tour guide, was my ride to the airport.
She eventually showed up at the hotel but was late. I had called her cell phone number
(which Steve gave me) but the person who answered
wasn't Serena(!) I was just about to call Steve when
Serena showed up. The "cell phone" number
turned out to be her office phone!
Anyway, the ride to the airport was long and uneventful.
Except it was raining. I napped a little along the way.
When we get to the Beijing airport, Serena led me to the correct
Air China counter for my flight. I checked in my bags
and got my air ticket. I could not get a window or aisle
seat. Then I had to go through a number of different counters.
Let me enumerate.
I went to the health counter where I had to verify
I was healthy on a form (swine flu control was a problem here).
Serena could not follow me through here so I said goodbye to her.
Then I went through a departure counter because I
had to fill out a departure card here. (I guess filling out this card
is an English competency test of sorts) Then I went through a security counter
where they look at your face, match it with your passport and air ticket.
Then finally I went through the x-ray machine line. I had to take out my
laptop this time but didn`t have to take out any liquids!
I was hungry now and ate at this nice comfortable
Japanese restaurant. Ordered the beef udon noodle soup. Hmmmm.
Then I took the airport's monorail to my gate E53.
Beijing Airport's Wifi Still Does Not Work!
Again at Terminal 3, the SSID t3wlan says it`s encrypted. But when you try to enter
a password, the damn thing says there is no encryption! So no password is needed.
But the signal won't connect.
It behaves the same way as before when I first arrived in China back on July 13th.
Piece of shit.
Air China's Poor Customer Service
At Gate E53. You have to go downstairs to the first floor
but this gate is so
small and crowded! There are not many seats and the standing
area is small.
Most people are just standing around or sitting
on the floor. There's no ventilation.
Why pack a full flight
into a small waiting space?
This is just bad
There are so MANY OTHER GATES in Terminal 3 that are EMPTY,
SPACIOUS and have PLENTY OF SEATS! Why pack people into this confined gate?
There is no excuse for this. Terminal 3 is HUGE and mostly EMPTY.
Gate E53 was really like being in a third world country.
I see they are doubling
up on the Air China and United Air flights to LAX.
So passengers from both flights are sharing the same plane!
All the more reason to have this flight in a larger gate.
The flight was also delayed over an hour but they didn`t make
an announcement at the gate. They just kept us
waiting, waiting, waiting, without saying anything.
We're standing there with no ventilation. It was terrible.
Tell your customers what`s
going on! Is that so much to ask?
On the flight back to LAX. I`m going to be using PST
from now on since we will be arriving to LAX in a few hours.
Scheduled to land around 7:30pm.
I sat in the middle section consisting of 4 seats. I was
in one middle seat, the other middle seat was empty.
Sitting next to me on the aisle was a friendly
blonde girl named Stephanie from CT. She helped
make this flight bearable. She was in China for 3 months(!)
taking summer classes. The other person sitting in
the other aisle seat was a friendly guy named Kevin.
Landing at LAX soon. I should mention that I still don't
have a proper wristwatch! In fact, I went through the
entire 3 weeks in China without one!
I thought I would buy one in China but I never did! :)