Starting off to China over seven seas
My first attempt to visit China converted to traveling to China over seven seas! The flight to the Far East was divided into three parts – from Belgrade to Abu Dhabi, then from Abu Dhabi to Jakarta and from Jakarta to Hong Kong and finally by coach to Shenzhen, China. At the time, the tickets were much cheaper than those for China directly. The estimated travel time was 21 hours. If you score a good ticket, you will travel at best for 15 hours. But, that was just the plan, the karma of my trip was completely different!
Landing the first airport
The first airport I landed was Abu Dhabi. Everything was unfamiliar to me and since the transfer time was short, I had to concentrate and follow the signs. It’s a well-organized airport and I got to the gate on time. I realized that I would enjoy a nice walk through its attractive shopping area but, that I left for some other occasion. Three months later, I was there again and I highly recommend you not to miss the chance to buy something. Have a look on https://www.abudhabiairport.ae/en/shop-dine-and-unwind/shop/pure-gold
As I somehow reached Jakarta and was already on the plane for 15 hours, the airport staff surprised me by the unpleasant surprise. Boarding the next flight had already started and I missed this one! They greeted me nicely and announced that for the next 6 hours I could stay at either the hotel or the lounge. I chose the lounge where there was a rich buffet table. At the moment I thought that even though I felt tired, maybe I was trying to go see Jakarta. But, this situation was new to me. My luggage was huge and I had no idea about the visa regime. So the thought of spending time at the airport seemed to me to be the best. Going to a hotel in such a short time was futile!
The first hint of Asia on my way to China over seven seas
Soekarno Hatta, Jakarta International Airport is extremely retro and, unlike many, the complete ambiance is the 1980s style. In many ways, it reminded me of the Moscow Hotel in Belgrade. For me, these were the good old days! Aunts in borosans (locally made comfortable shoes) with a neatly folded cloth over their hand-formed the backbone of the hospitality staff at the hotel and served the casual and deliberate passers-by very kindly. As a reminder that this is still happening in 2014, there was wifi and the ability to relax in an armchair with a laptop on my knees. You could fall asleep if you feel tired and self-suggestive enough.
The kind servant of the small body and the smiley face took my passport. He went to do whatever it took to board me on the next flight. The other one took me to the aforementioned lounge with a buffet table. I curiously approached the elaborated table and stuffed the plate with everything. Food in this part of the globe always starts with rice or pasta. The rest are many additions in the form of very spicy meat or vegetables. Then I settled into my worm armchair. While I was eating delicious and fragrant food I watched the situation in the salon…Totally silly trip! At that moment, I realized that I was about 6000 km from my own country! Alone as part of a big children’s puzzle trying to push it into place. Everything around me was full of differences. Races, ways of dress, behavior, smell!
Napping, internet surfing, and brainstorming
Since I called home and said what happened, I lost my attention and I fell asleep. Distracted by the impressions and subconscious images of my vivid recent days, my dream quickly betrayed me. So, I spent the rest of my time listening to music and read some details about my potential new home. Shenzhen in southeast China on the border with Hong Kong! The internet pictures of my future residence completely amazed me by the scenes! Glittering advertisements reflecting on the surface of the river on which the city lies! imposing buildings that stand out in height or size, population corresponding to one and a half in Serbia! I was wondering if these were just great photos or a really realistic sight? Slowly I realized that my “traveling China over seven seas” is happening for real!
One step forward, two steps back
Although it didn’t seem possible, it had been four and a half hours since I arrived in Jakarta and again a small, kind man appeared in front of me. In his humble English, with a strong accent, he invited me to board: “Madam, please follow me, I take you to your plane …”. That’s when I found out the intriguing information – so I’m not going directly to Hong Kong! There was no connection, so they took me on a plane to Kuala Lumpur, and from Kuala Lumpur, I have to fly to Hong Kong.
Will my traveling to China over seven seas ever end?
Walking in disbelief behind my assigned companion, I tried to calculate when I would get to Hong Kong. I realized that I would be able to boast the story that in about 30 hours I was able to visit five Asian airports! So my “visiting China the first time” was potentially postponed for another 15 hours. Now, lost in huge time differences, after waiting in line for boarding, I found myself in a crowded plane to Kuala Lumpur.
Flight to another airport was nowhere near as comfortable as the previous two. As I listened for the third time to the captain’s greetings and directions for leaving the plane in 4-5 languages, I slowly fell into a coma. While closing my eyes, I noticed that my companion was some strange hippie creature who had decided to lift his legs into the seats and put them under his butt. For sure, not thinking much about the rules of good behavior and the smell of his socks of dubious color…
P.S. While you are waiting for the “Traveling to China over seven seas” second part, have a look at some tips and tricks about traveling to China solo for the first time: http://www.natasakuzele.com/china-shenzhen-the-first-time-going-solo/
Next time: Hong Kong finally!