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Summer 2007 - Malaysia XVI

Seriously, don't fly Air China

-17 °C
View Summer Vacation 2007 on agc_cwm's travel map.

Good gracious, that was money well spent. We got our call, showered and rushed to the gate, only to learn that there had been further delays and it'd be at least another hour before boarding. Really miffed, I wondered if we could get back in to our room for another hour, and then we tried to get comfortable on the benches next to the Chinese national badminton team (in KL for the world championships). There was another security check before we were led into another waiting area prior to boarding. When we finally got on the plane, we tried to settle in for some sleep. But about 30 minutes after takeoff, they served the meal. Dinner type food. At breakfast time. Because I want to eat fried rice at 6am. I left mine on my tray table and tried to get some sleep before I touched it. Well, when I actually did fall asleep, my arms fell down off my chest and into my glass of water, spilling it everywhere. At this point I decided to try to eat my food before I ended up wearing it. I got a few bites down before my stomach turned and I made the decision to stop. I ate my fruit salad and called it done.

Well at least there was a film on the flight. Unfortunately it was in Mandarin, and we didn't have headphones anyway, so no matter. We tried to sort out what we should do about the connection while on board but they had no information to give us about flights or anything. Unfortunately, this is what we expected of Air China, but we were still frustrated. So when we finally arrived in Beijing, we rushed off the plane to try to find some information. There were some ground staff there at the gate helping with connections, but for some reason unknown to us or anyone we asked, we were not on the list of passengers heading to Osaka. So we missed the first flight we could have possibly taken back to Osaka. We were M-A-D. I was keeping it together a little better than Andrew at this point. He was really irritated. And Andrew doesn't get mad, but boy did he blow a gasket at the people at the transit desk. Those people didn't seem to think that a five and a half hour delay might cause people to miss connecting flights. It was like that possibility never occurred to them. Yeah, I know, right?!

So we put up an awful stink and they called some other lady to deal with us, and she proceeded to put us on the 16:20 flight. We said if we had to stay in Beijing all day, then we at least wanted a meal. She said she couldn't do that, and then took us on a wild goose chase around the airport, through a couple of immigration checks and down to the baggage carousels where she said our bags would be brought to us. After standing around there for about fifteen minutes, and realizing they were probably just jerking us around for putting up a stink, I went off to find our bags. I found them; our flight had long since been cleared out, and our bags were going around with a flight from Hong Kong. With much effort, I hauled the packs over to a trolley, and went to find Andrew and the lady again. They were headed towards me, and we were on our way to somewhere else; a ticket counter apparently. We went through a couple more security checks and got up to the ticket counter through a crowd of people. I mean it was bedlam up there. At this point we decided to ask to speak to a manager. Looking increasing annoyed with us, she led us through yet another security check to the check-in desks. We had noticed earlier on a departure board that there was a flight to Osaka at 14:55. When we got to the check-in, we inquired about this flight. They busied themselves ignoring us while trying to book us a ticket. We voiced our complaints about how we had been treated in the past twelve hours. The manager made no apologies, saying he doesn't control all the employees, and gave us a phone number to call and make our grievances be known; he was obviously not about to deal with us any more than he had to.

Well, they did managed to get us on the earlier flight. And lucky for us, it was an ANA flight and not and Air China one. It didn't matter that we didn't get that upgrade was asked for; not flying Air China was upgrade enough. We raced to the gate, as boarding as about to close (we did have to cut into the immigration line; sorry to all those people behind us). We got on the plane, and were so happy to be in a comfortable seat at the front of economy class, with personal TVs, good food, and friendly service in a familiar language. Not that I understand Japanese, but at least it's familiar. The flight was very comfortable. We watched Shrek the Third (meh). We arrived in Osaka, and it was hot, as we expected. We got through immigration in record time (we got a lot of looks from the tourists waiting in the really long line; because we have re-entry permits, we can go through the residents line. Apparently we don't look Japanese. Who knew?), but when we got to customs, the guy searched our bags. I don't think he believed that we didn't buy any souvenirs. We really didn't; all we bought were spices and postcards and books. Well, it didn't hold us back long, and out we went to catch a bus back to NIshinomiya. From there we opted to take a taxi, deciding to spare the rush hour passengers the indignity of getting hit with our packs. We arrived at our apartment at about 19:30, when we should have arrived at least six hours earlier. It takes a trip to the Beijing airport to make you miss the courteous service and friendly smiles you get in Japan.

I suppose perhaps, at some point, we'll make a return trip to China and see more than the airport, and I hope to be proven wrong. But for now, we've decided never again to transit through Beijing (we'll opt for Hong Kong or Singapore next time). But a return trip to Malaysia is definitely in the works. There is so much in Sabah that we didn't get to see, and there are so many other parts of the country worth checking out (including some more time in KL). Hope to see you again soon, Malaysia! But for now, I need to buy a spice grinder for those bags of cumin and coriander seed.

Posted by agc_cwm 05:41 Archived in Malaysia

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