[Since I did not have access to my blog when I was in China, I have to update my trip only now. Enjoy the delayed posts.]
Location: Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia -> Hangzhou, China
Hello everybody, I’m now in Hangzhou, China. Today’s the first day of my East Asia (China and Taiwan) trip.
At the beginning, I didn’t thought about writing daily entries as I did on my round-the-world trip. But today’s event was so interesting (or frustrating) that I thought it would be interesting to share details about this 20-day trip.
Let’s hop over to the start of the trip, to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Mom dropped me off at AirAsia’s terminal and headed off to the shop. Our family’s kind of laissez-faire about sending off people because we seem to be travelling too much for tearful farewells. Heck, my parents only start driving to the airport to pick me up after I call them to say that I’ve arrived.
The counters were full of guests waiting for check-in. I picked one of the queues that seemed to have less people and even lesser luggage.
Of course, I have the worst of luck when it comes to queues so my line was slower than the one on my left but faster than the one on my right. (I feel good about the latter part.)
While I was waiting, my mom suddenly appeared at my side. She told me that a police officer had left the parking area so she parked illegally. She didn’t hang around for a long time and went off soon.
After checking in my 8kg luggage despite having 20kg of paid weight, I headed into the boarding room. AIrAsia’s boarding room is kind of messy since they only have number gates and everyone waits in the same place.
I didn’t realize that my flight was boarding until I heard a man yell out my destination, “HANGZHOU!” By that time, the queue has dispersed and only the rest of the absentminded guests were rushing over to pass the gate.
The majority of the passengers on my flight were tourists from mainland China. It’s great that AirAsia has started Hangzhou – Kota Kinabalu route as it brings in a lot more tourists. Still, I think that the city still needs to work more to make the place tourist-friendlier.
Anyway, back to my flight. I booked a meal for the trip to Hangzhou because it was flying at an awkward timing (4:15pm to 8:20pm!). I booked black pepper chicken since I would be eating a lot of rice for the next 20 days.
All throughout my flight, the little kid behind me kept kicking my seat. He even shut the window shutter really loudly when I had my head leaning on the wall.
I didn’t confront his parents because I’m a wimp but from the kid and his mom’s conversation, I can tell that they are actually good parents and not raising a spoiled brat.
Soon (actually, about 4 hours), we reached Hangzhou. The airport was huge and our plane needed a car with an arrow sign to lead it to its space. I only glimpsed the car when it made turns. This made me wonder if there are actually tiny cars leading planes to their right parking in all airports.
Immigration at Hangzhou airport was fast since it didn’t seem like a lot of people were around. I hurried past the customs officers since I was eager to hea
Waiting, waiting and waiting for my hotel pick up
I got out my phone and tried to call the hotel through Skype since it’s much cheaper that way. What I didn’t realize that Skype’s service was blocked in China. (I should have known this considering my previous job involved a lot of writing about the Great Firewall of China.)
I was nervous and did the next best thing: Whatsapp my mom and ask her to call the hotel. I could see from my phone record that Mom had read my note. But a long while passed and she still did not reply me.
I forwarded the hotel’s number to the Whatsapp group where I contact both my mom and my sister. Soon, my mom replied. She said she was busy fetching someone to the airport and didn’t have time to call the hotel then. She had made the call and the receptionist said that the hotel bus was already off to pick me up. This was 9:27pm.
So I waited and waited and waited. I looked at every person who walked by, to see if they would approach me and ask if I was staying at Guanghua Hotel. No one asked me even though they looked like they were there to pick someone up.
At 9:40pm, I told my family that the vehicle wasn’t there even though the hotel is supposed to be near the airport.
9:46pm I wrote Nicole’s full name on a piece of paper and hung it on my luggage. Since she made the booking, I assumed that the pick up person would know to pick me up.
9:48pm I asked my mom to call the hotel again. My sister also volunteered to call.
9:54pm Mom wrote that the reception to the hotel was bad and she couldn’t hear much. I tried calling and no one could hear me speak.
10:03pm My sister said she would call. Mom wrote back, “I just called. They said that they’ve picked someone up. I told them that you’re still at the airport. She asked if there were 3 of you. Then I said that you have been waiting since 9pm.”
10:06pm My sister wrote, “The receptionist dared say that the 2 Malaysians have checked in. Head to Gate 14. Car plate 38, silver gray car with a driver called Liu.”
So off I walked from Gate 4 to Gate 14. Even though the numbers don’t feel too far from each other, the walk was dang long. When I reached Gate 4, my heart fell. This place was a total mess with more people waiting than people arriving. I knew I wouldn’t be able to recognize anyone there. I didn’t dare walk too far out of the airport because it was unknown territory. I told my sister about the situation and she called the hotel again.
10:20pm My sister wrote to tell me to head out and a vehicle would be honking and some one would be calling out my name. I walked out and there was a van outside. The driver was honking but he wasn’t yelling my name. I gratefully got on the bus.
Even though it was only a 5-minute drive, it felt like forever. The highway was quite empty and the dark roadside was lit here and there with florescent signs announcing hotels.
Finally, the bus approached a grand hotel. It was Guanghua, the place where I will be staying for one night. The receptionists were apologetic when I checked in. I took my room card and the breakfast coupon to our floor.
The room was majestic. After 4 months of living in hostels, a grand hotel room was very unfamiliar, although very exciting. Soft comfy beds! Dim lights! Not very cold air conditioning. These were things unfamiliar to me.
Other things that were unfamiliar to me were payable items such as junk food, face towel, shampoo and even instant noodles in the room.
Another thing that I’ve never seen in a hotel room is this basket consisting of 1 box of vibrating condoms, 1 box of ladies’ underwear, 1 box of ladies’ socks, 1 box of men’s underwear and another box I didn’t see clearly.
Nicole’s flight arrive slightly after midnight. I went to the reception to tell them to send a car over. Soon, she reached and we’re about to start our adventures tomorrow!
What is the strangest thing you have seen in a hotel room?