A Letter to Family and Friends: Thurs 28th August 2008
|Kookaburra at Mt. Glorious to the north of Brisbane|
Well, I have arrived in China. Of Course by the time you get this I will have been here a week or more but I will explain that a little later.
As you know, my journey in July from China to Australia went OK until I landed in Sydney and 'hit a brick wall'. My flight to Brisbane got changed 3 times and I arrived in Brisbane 2 hours before my luggage.
With that in Mind, and knowing that the return trip from Brisbane to Shanghai had me arriving in Sydney only one hour before the flight to China, I twice phoned Qantas to check if I was actually going to make my connection. 'Oh yes!' they said: 'Everything is running smoothly now!'
Well! Firstly, we left Brisbane a little late, and arrived at Sydney at the same time that the flight to China was boarding - BUT - we still had to get from the Domestic to International Terminal. This we did via an 'across the tarmac bus' that allowed us to bypass security. Unfortunately we still had to pass through 'Customs' and the line for that was horrendous.
|Tin Can Bay Esturine Dolphins come in for hand feeding|
While standing there I heard a public announcement calling names of people for my flight. I panicked and went under the rope and jumped the queue and announced, 'That is my flight that they are calling'. The young customs officer (a woman) said: 'Why are you so late?' I replied: 'My flight just got in!' - 'Well next time you should organise yourself better to be here with plenty of time because we don't care if you miss your flight!'
|His beak holds more than his belly can that pelican|
I felt like screaming - '#%$^' You! Maybe Qantas should organise their booking schedules better!'
Anyway, I ran like hell to the plane (with no time to stop at Duty Free) and as I got to the entrance of the plane (but without entering it), I stopped, put down my computer, back pack and overcoat, and just bent over trying to regain my breath.
A Male Steward came off the plane and walked over to me and said: "It's alright! We aren't going to leave without you! Calm down! Catch your breath!"
The 'So and So' was right. It was still another 30 minutes before we took off!
The flight went well! The Service was Great! I had a Chinese sailor sitting beside me all the way and we chatted in a mix of Chinese and English. The view of the Desert, of the Gulf of Carpentaria and of the Arafura Sea were great; and of course as usual, I could not fall asleep on the plane.
It doesn't matter! It is not important! Do not Worry!
So what if we left Australia late! So what if I could not sleep on the plane. Not a problem, because we arrived in Shanghai ON TIME!
Yeah! You Beauty! I had arrived in China and not some other country due to another Qantas malfunction! I had arrived on Time! I arrived safely! Now all I had to do was grab my bags and find my driver!
Well finding the Driver wasn't difficult - he was holding a very big sign with my name on it. Finding my luggage however was a completely different story!
You could actually pick who transferred from Brisbane flight QF505 to Shanghai flight QF129. We were all the ones still standing at the baggage collection after the conveyor belt stopped running. (To be honest, I was lucky enough to score one of my two bags.)
Well - missing one bag doesn't really matter does it! After all it was probably still in Sydney and would be sent on the next flight! It wasn't as if I didn't appreciate that fact, it was just that I was travelling to a place 4 to 5 hours by road from Shanghai airport.
|Egyptians submitting to the Will of Allah as the tide comes in to drown their stuck car at Rainbow Beach|
Anyway, by the time I exited the secure area at the airport and met my driver, I had been in the terminal about an hour and a half. Typical Chinese that they are, neither the Driver nor the teacher who accompanied him were the slightest bit bothered by the fact that they had waited so long and that we still had a long way to go.
I had been up since 2am China Time, and here it was about 8:30pm China time, and I'm ready for a 4-5 hour car trip. You would think I could finally sleep yes?
|Islands in the Arafura Sea off the coast of the Northern Territory|
After a while of talking in the car and stopping for a bite to eat, Mr. Zhou, the Chinese teacher, closed his eyes and that was it. He was out like a light. I on the other hand was watching the driver through his rear view mirror. He seemed to be blinking an awful lot and his driving was a little erratic. Not that that is unusual in China, but when you are on the highway and you have 3 or 4 lanes to choose from and very little traffic, you would think that you could drive in at least one or two of those lanes for more than 500 meters at a time.
Needless to say, I could not fall asleep in the car. At about one in the morning (Tuesday 26th August) I was delivered safely - "sans baggage" to my door.
I slept about 8 hours and then got up, and spent the rest of the day alternating between sleeping, unpacking and washing the clothes in the baggage I had previously sent from Suzhou, and cleaning the apartment. At around 7pm I phoned my coordinator to inquire about my luggage and she informed me that it would arrive the following day - Wednesday 27th.
By Wednesday morning, I had recovered enough from my jet lag to take stock of my situation. I had no gas to cook with; a microwave that made loud noises and flashed flames; there was no water in the toilet to flush it with; I had no Internet connection; but I did have a TV that functioned but which defied my ability to operate it.
I didn't know what to do with myself and could not leave the apartment lest my baggage arrive from Shanghai Airport and I wasn't there. Apart from a quick trip at 9:45am to the supermarket around the corner, I spent the whole day bored out of my brain.
At about 4:30pm, I went to a public phone (my house phone didn't work) and I called my coordinator again to ascertain the situation with regard to my luggage. She informed me that the luggage had arrived at 10am and because I hadn't answered my phone, it had been left with some teachers to look after.
So there you have it - I haven't even started my new job yet and everything is snafu!
Well that is all I have to report at the moment. I hope that this email finds you all well!
Thursday 28th August.
(P.S. I am told that I will have Internet connected in September. So don't hold your breath waiting for this email!)
|Queensland: Great one day and Perfect the next - Tin Can Bay|
|Noosa Heads, Rainbow Beach, Tin Can Bay, Sunshine Coast Queensland|
Larger and/or different photos at A Holiday in Queensland Australia
R.P.BenDedek is the pseudonym of the Author of 'The King's Calendar: The Secret of Qumran' (http://www.kingscalendar.com/), and is a guest columnist at Magic City Morning Star News. An Australian, he currently teaches Conversational English in China.
Photographic Stories from China at Kingscalendar
"The King's Calendar" is a chronological study of the historical books of the Bible (Kings and Chronicles), Josephus, Seder Olam Rabbah, and the (Essene) Damascus Document of The Dead Sea Scrolls.