24th Jun 2012 - 26th Jun 2012
The Long Way Home
So the journey home began by wakening up at 4am on Sunday and getting a shuttle bus to the airport, we had arrived early but needed to check our luggage weight on scales, we were a little shocked to see we were over weight but we emptied out our 'maybe' pile and were good, when we got to check in though we were told it wasn't 23kg as we thought but a massive 30kg each so I retrieved the 'maybes' and still had room which was great.
We boarded our Air China flight and waved goodbye to Sydney and indeed Australia. The first leg was 10 and a half hours to Shanghai, it went in fine, watched movies, slept and ate half decent in flight meals which were surprisingly Chinese food. The service was fine, the plane was fine, cabin crew not so fine (ie. no smiles, or courtesy), no safety briefing was shown which I didn't approve of (as its one of my favourite things to do when I work myself).
In Shanghai we disembarked and went through a lengthy immigration process which seemed pointless as it looked like blind leading the blind, we were ok though it was good to stretch our legs but we had a lot of moaners with us. We moved into the transit lounge where we were delayed on departing due to bad weather in Beijing. We sat around and on plane for 2 hours before we got clearance. The flight was a short 2 hours but when we landed we found out our connecting flight to Gatwick had left without us and the other 30 odd heading with us. By this time (with time difference) it was 2am, we were given option of being put in hotel or waiting til ticket desk opened so most of us waited knowing it was first come first serve. Whilst waiting we thought 'when in Rome' and had a Thai (ha there was no Chinese food) but we accomplished eating the whole meal with chopsticks and a cold Chinese beer. So it was now half 5 and we got in the queue first, to be told the was very limited seats but we were confirmed on the 1.30pm flight but to Heathrow. Turned out only 5 of us made it on flight, others had to wait till next day or went via France or Germany, so we were lucky.
So we didn't get the visa in the end and we didn't need it (phew) but we weren't allowed to leave the airport but we had hours to kill and didn't see how anyone would know we'd left so we got on a train and subway and went to visit Beijing! We were both feeling jet lagged but we pressed on and visited Tiananmen Square, we seen the traditional Chinese buildings of the Emperors Ancestral Palace, built in the Ming Dynasty. We walked around the square and were flagged by police/army and lots of tourists- but they all looked Chinese, we were the only white people, actually we didn't see any other white people all day. I'll be honest and say I did t know too much but Shan said he'd heard of it, but wasn't till we got home we realised he knew it because of the riots on news and I didn't know because it happened when I (we) were 1 year old. But we were both so thrilled to have been sightseeing around China! It was an adds bonus and so glad we got the opportunity to do it!
We arrived back safe at the airport and checked in for our flight. We tried to email home to let our parents know our whereabouts and my fabulous friend Emma (hi Em!) who was meant to come meet us at LGW, but- China has banned all social networking sites! Had a Chinese for lunch then boarded our 11 hour flight to Heathrow. It went in a little slower but had more good food and the hosties were far better. Watched some movies like 'one day', 'we bought a zoo', 'incredibly loud and extremely close' which all brought me to tears but were good. Had some shut eye and then we were back in British soil.
We booked a nights stay at the Hilton T5, and cheekily got a discount using Shannon's airport pass. The hotel was grand, and new, the room was amazingly big and as usual the bed so big and comfy, we had a great nights sleep catching up with our jet lag and then in morning had the most amazing buffet breakfast, I had everything, even ordering off menu for a stack of pancakes, the table was overflowing- as we're our fat bellies! Afterwards we got our stuff together and caught an expensive national express bus to Gatwick. Flights to Guernsey were delayed due to fog (no change there then) but we made it and flew back to our normal lives.
Shannon's family were there to meet us and after getting settled in we headed out for 'dinner' which actually was a surprise party!! Shan's mum had kindly organised everything and lots of our friends turned up. Even my mum and dad had been invited but couldn't make it (which is fine as I'll go visit them in Scotland very soon). It was a lovely night and we were shocked as we had no clue about a party!
So now the adventure is over and it's back to reality. We will gratefully stay at Shannon's parents until we get money to rent an apartment, and we need to look for a car and jobs!
Love Shanpam xx