I can’t believe how quickly this fast and furious little journey of mine to the Orient snuck up on me, but here I am finding myself tapping out this first “on the road” Blog entry from my Doubletree by Hilton hotel room in Beijing China! I know… seriously cool right?
For those of you who missed my earlier entry a week or so ago which previewed the basic itinerary for this working holiday trip, I’ve just kicked off a 9-day tour of some of China’s tourist hot spots thanks to Cathay Pacific and their China Experience tours.
My task this week? Meet up with my Dad, who Cathay flew up from Brisbane, and together experience and photographically document a selection of the regular and VIP tour highlights that may be accessed across the full range of packaged tours in China, offered by Cathay Pacific.
Before meeting up with Dad, who I hadn’t seen since early January this year, I had to make my way to Beijing. To kick things off, I was fortunate enough to be given access to Cathay’s Business Class Lounge at YVR last night prior to my flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong. With access to a selection of snacks, fresh fruit, wine, spirits and more, let’s just say I was a happy boy with a satisfied belly by the time I took my seat in Business Class, upstairs in the “hump” of the Boeing 747, for takeoff.
As bad luck would have it, some “Yank” didn’t show up for their flight after having already checked their bags, so we ended up pushing back from the gate over 30 minutes late due to ground staff having to locate and remove the absent passenger’s bag from the luggage hold. Not such a good start knowing that I had only a 50 minute window in Hong Kong with which to transfer to my China Air flight to Beijing. Eek!
A few interesting movies, some great new tunes on my iPod (do yourself a favour and check out The Black Key’s new offering “Brother”) a little sleep and plenty of great food and beverages (served by “Joy”, my flight attendant) later, we had completed our 13 hour journey to Hong Kong. Despite our Aussie captain’s half-promise to make up the time we lost while being delayed in Vancouver, we arrived about 35 minutes late giving me an impossible 15 minutes to find the right China Air check-in desk, check-in and run to the right departure gate – all in one of the biggest airports in the world…
Thankfully, there was a lovely Cathay Pacific ground staffer waiting for me at the end of the ramp who helped wipe the look of panic off my face with news that my connecting flight was 40 minutes late and that she was there to escort me to my Beijing flight – *phew*.
Anyway, cutting a long story short, a few hours later I touched down in Beijing, met up with our Beijing guide, Jessica, and attempted to stay awake during a rather speedy and long (the airport is miles out of town) ride to our hotel. As Dad had arrived much earlier in the day, he was fast asleep until I crashed through the door at something like 2am. Normally I would feel pretty guilty about that kind of thing, but I was drained… so a quick hug and hello and my head hit the pillow, knowing it would have to be vertical again in a little over 4 hours, in time to embark on the first full day of our tour!