And so my travels have begun, and not without spurts of adrenalin and the long arms of Vodacom striking back. Online check-in, no problem. Booking in, no problem. Baggage weight 29kg, no problem but possibly very problematic in Beijing. Customs, no problem. Currency exchange, first problem!! They need proof of residence – inside customs! Print statement from their computer, but it only reflects PO Box address. No problem, will exchange in Dubai. So I arrive at Dubai airport, hand over my cash for exchange, next hitch! Half my cash still old R200 notes and they don’t accept them. OK, pay rest with card but now have to look after SA cash in UB! And Vodacom roaming – not on your life! So much for activating it…..
But the send off was great. Thanks Lani, Mariaan and Kobus! Had entertaining passenger next to me on flight, watched a crappy movie (don’t know why I finished it, I could have changed channels) and did not sleep at all. Going to catch up with me!
And now I am sitting next to an uncommunicative Chinese lady, with a moustach, (they are a weird lot), holding my pee in and working on a headache.
On the bright side, met up with fellow riders Barbs, Monde and vets Peter, Helen without the help of Vodacom. Unfortunately we are spread out all over the plane, so will have to catch up some more in Beijing. And they offered to spread my extra 9kg over baggage weight amongst them – might have to saw the saddle in half!!
So now I have the choice to either do acrobatics over or wake up my fellow pasenger. Welcome to Beijing!
8.55pm local time and it is now again dark outside the plane. My next door neighbour traveller actually has such a pretty smile and speaks English! Great opening for bugging her a few times to visit the loo or have a chat to Barbs 4 seats behind me. On the aircraft location map we are now just south of Ulanbaatar – can’t we just turn towards it? Still a 4 hour stop over at Beijing!!!!
Beijing – my goodness, customs was hectic. Extra forms to fill in, and the way they check you out to verify your passport wants to make you confess to something you haven’t done! The 9kg baggage over weight cleared itself out, as Barbs and my luggage were booked straight through. Never cross a bridge before you get there….
Kulula in disguise!! Small plane, small seats and a 1 hour and 50 min flight. We were now all floundering a bit on the energy side, I had not slept in nearly 2 days now. But one always reaches ones destination, albeit with a wee problem. The 9kg problem mushroomed into a our luggage did not arrive problem! But we were tired and really did not care much, so quite chipper we filled in more forms, described our luggage by way of a sort of luggage and color chart, organized a taxi through the customs guy and set off for our hotel. Ah, we were back in familiar territory. Potholes, dangerous swerving to avoid both traffic and potholes, shot suspension groaning at the onslaught. But here we were in UB, very old and very new mixed everywhere, a steering wheel covered with beads and a right hand drive car in the right side lane. Hotel room a very welcome sight – shower, breakfast and then bed for a short while. Need to do some shopping still this pm, oh and try to get our luggage.