Japan, China, Aircraft
16 days away
3,477 km / 2,161 miles since last post
14,317 km / 8,896 miles total
An early start for us both this morning, we had to leave the hotel around 6:20am to get the train to Shin-Osaka (only one stop). From here we could then take our reserved seats on the Kansai Express train to the airport. It was an hour long journey, and it was only half way there I realised I hadn't done a last minute check on our flight, to ensure there had been no time changes or delays. Thankfully, there had not - but I find getting to the airport stressful enough as it is, so in a strange city and using a strange train station, it all meant a lot of stress!
We arrived at the airport in good time for checking in. However, when I put my ticket in the barrier machine for the Shin-Osaka to Kansai Airport journey, it didn't let me through. The guard advised us (or we worked out - he couldn't speak English) that we needed to also show him our tickets from Osaka to Shin-Osaka. It was at that moment that I realised I had left these on the train! After a lot of back and forth of him asking for the tickets, us explaining we'd left them on the train and him not quite understanding, he let us go through. A bit of a close shave that one!
Once we had checked in our baggage and been issued our boarding passes for both flights, I finally felt I could relax a little. We spotted a Travelex counter and thought it might be wise to change up our remaining Japanese Yen for Chinese Yuan. Whilst they were happy to do this, they wouldn't allow us to use Visa to change up more currency - it was cash only for some reason!
Our plane to Hong Kong boarded promptly and it was a fairly pleasant and uneventful flight. Some slight turbulence along the way, but nothing severe. We managed to fit in watching a couple of episodes of An Idiot Abroad which helped to pass the time.
Two and a half hours later, we touched down in Hong Kong. The climate is a little different here from Osaka - the temperature outside was 26 degrees! Not that we felt much of it however as it was straight into the airport and straight through to departures for our connecting flight to Beijing.
In the airport we spotted a Travelex ATM and thought we'd try once again to get some more Chinese currency. But the machine rejected both our Visa debit cards. It was afterwards we realised that when we told HSBC we would be using our cards abroad, we failed to include Hong Kong in our list of destinations! Never mind, I'm sure we could sort it out once in Beijing.
Whilst waiting for our flight, Stu wandered off to take some pictures of the planes - there is a good view in the departure lounge of Hong Kong airport of the runways and planes on the Tarmac.
Our flight to Beijing was also fairly uneventful. We managed to fit in an episode of Prison Break from the laptop. In total it was around three hours to get to Beijing.
Once in Beijing, we were both feeling tired from the days travelling and couldn't wait to get our bags and head to the hotel. It seemed to take an age for the baggage carousel to get going. But finally, with bags in hand we headed to the taxi rank. Whilst we had read that you can get a shuttle bus then a couple of subway trains to our hotel, we knew that the taxi was only going to cost around �10 to travel 30km and it seemed reasonable enough to take the easy option.
The taxi driver couldn't read the English translation of our hotel name and address, but luckily there was a phone number he could ring to find out where it was.
It took abut half an hour in the cab. We witnessed some crazy driving along the way - they love beeping their horn all the time.
Finally, we arrived at the hotel. The taxi cost us just 104 yuan (about �10 for 20 miles) - amazing!
We were advised by the lady on reception that someone from our organised trip would be calling us this evening. In the meantime we headed up to our room. It's fairly spacious, but we are certainly a world away from the Hyatt Regency in Japan! In fact, it seems a world away from all the places we stayed in Japan. The bathroom floor looks like it hasn't seen a mop in a while, and when I poked my head around the walk-in shower I spotted a fag end on the floor - nice touch! Still, despite not being the standard we were used to in Japan, I guess it's also not the high price we were used to in Japan so there has to be some trade off. The rest of the room is ok. We knew the accommodation was going to be basic anyway. The beds seem clean and comfortable, so that is something.
The tour leader has just called and asked for Stu to visit him in his room in the hotel to fill him in on the plans for the tour. Stu returned with an itinerary for our Roam China tour and some more information. There are eight people, including us, in our tour group and apparently I am the oldest person! Our tour kicks off tomorrow with breakfast at 7:30am, then we leave the hotel for our first day out to see the Great Wall of China!