German Christmas (Part 2) – Shanghai Pudong Airport; So Close But Yet So Far

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you had a lovely time with your families or holidaying in the tropics (my plan for next year if I can afford it).

Missed out on Part 1? Find it here.

Here is the biggest irony; the bus arrives at Terminal 1 at 8.47 and all I manage is a hysterical giggle at the fact that I almost went loony over nothing. It’s not until we pull into the stop that I realize I have absolutely no idea which terminal I am supposed to be in. Frantically ripping the paper out of bag while chucking my phone with Mr. Li on it into bag, I read Terminal 2 on my paper and relax. I even think of having a celebratory pee when I get into T2. Oh, what a fool I am.

I arrive at the second terminal just to find my flight is not on the black board. Frantic jogging to the information desk and it is revealed to me that the information on my booking is incorrect. I now have to drag my suitcase back to T1. Luckily it’s only ten minutes.

I arrive in T1 feeling quite toasty with my thick winter jacket and run straight to check-in area A, where China Eastern is located according to the huge sign that jumps out at you upon stepping off the escalator. It’s when I turn the corner and there are no people queuing up that I am sure something’s wrong. Of course, this is just the check-in counter for domestic flights. Please storm back half way in the same direction you came from.

At least I am burning all my calories from non-dinner. I wonder if anyone ever missed their flight after arriving three hours prior and spending the entire time lost in the airport. So much for my Shanghai orientation skills.

As I stand in what I am hoping is the right check-in queue – there is a comfortingly large number of foreigners and I even heard some Germans; also I asked one of the staff, but who knows what issue will come up next – I overhear a conversation between a British girl and her mum.

“So do you think it’s going to be like a real holiday?” asks the child.
“No,” replies mum. “We will just be rushing about trying to see everyone.”

I cannot help but smile at how on the money that remark is. Going back home for most of us, whose countries of origin are so far away, is just a big rush from one family member to the next friend. Don’t get me wrong, no one’s complaining, and I love nothing more than to see my dear friends and family. But it is hard work. Once the holiday is over, you find yourself thinking

“I’m going to need a holiday after that holiday.”

In my back and forth storming session I discover a Subway. Subway’s great! I wanted to get me a nice Sub for dinner recently and it wasn’t till the lady at the counter had sliced up my Parmesan encrusted bread, she informs me there is no cheese left. Subway, without cheese??? Hell, no! “Forget it.” I announce and storm off to cheesier pastures.

IF I manage to check in, the celebratory pee might turn into a celebratory Sub. But careful, we don’t want to start getting optimistic, now do we?

Pudong Airport Check-In – Four times a charm

I KNEW IT! As I confidently walk up to the check-in counter, the lady behind the desk tells me

“This is the wrong check-in area, you should go to J.”

“BUT I WAS TOLD TO CHECK IN HERE!” I shout at the woman in a panic-stricken voice.

“By who?” She asks.

“By your own colleagues!” I shout back.

All I manage is a hearty “For Christ’s Sake!!!”, then I storm off in the direction of area J.

As it turns out, asking two airport employees where the China Eastern flight check-in for Frankfurt is, will get you the wrong answer. Also, I soon notice that pretty much every foreigner in the previous queue has suffered the same fate as I, including the aforementioned Germans.

All around me I hear swear words in any European language one can imagine from French to Italian, while I curse into my phone in a very un-lady-like fashion. Mr Li on the other end of the line compliments me that my Chinese swearing has improved a lot recently. I guess that’s something.

The tension is tangible as people are dropping passports and falling over their children. Luckily, neither dad nor daughter were harmed in this unfortunate incident.

As I stand in the queue I notice that in the line behind me there are three European-Chinese couples in a row behind each other, almost naturally all Chinese women and Western men. But at least cross-cultural couplings such as these are becoming increasingly common.

So are AMWF couples tells me Rachel, a lovely British girl, who used to work for my company until she returned to the UK with her Chinese husband. They have the cutest little son and I spent half the day today sending Mr Li the sweetest pictures of him. Another cool thing about Chinese partners – they don’t freak out if you mention babies. Completely forgot that on my list.

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