To avoid hassling anyone from having to drop me off at the airport (which is over an hour away from home) and any other associated costs such as petrol, toll & parking; I decided to book return pickup with Hoang Do shuttle services. It’s really affordable and they’re very reliable. Be sure to check out their website or give them a call if you just want to make your own solo way to the airport from home &/or from airport to home.
So my flight departed from Sydney International Airport on the 29th April at 10.30am that morning and I didn’t arrive in Beijing until 11pm that night, Beijing time (Australian time 1am). This flight had a technical stopover at Nanjing, so the flight from Sydney to Nanjing only took 10 hours. The flight from Nanjing to Beijing was 2 hours so a total of approximately 12-13 hours from Sydney to Beijing.
A stopover at Nanjing actually got me a little worried because I was afraid I wouldn’t know where to go etc. But thankfully for technical stopovers, it’s the same plane you were initially on. Luckily on my flight, I was next to a guy from Beijing who studied Commerce at the same uni as myself for the last 2 years so he was able to speak conversational English and help me out. I pretty much followed him and he helped translate what the officials were saying! To the guy who helped me out- thank you so much!
As I arrived at Beijing, I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and really nervous at the same time. I mean, I was alone and couldn’t fluently speak to anyone. So you get off the plane via stairs, and then a shuttle bus takes you to the actual airport. Your first experience on China buses in Beijing will definitely start from here. It was literally packed with back to back and butt to butt- like sardines! It was crazy!
At least the long flight (worst part of the trip) was over!
As I waited at the luggage pickup, I was getting a little worried because only a few had circulated. Then it was done, and no one was around the luggage pickup area for this flight. I tried to ask the officials there but they obviously didn’t understand English. I was directed out of the arrivals area and found myself at the exit gate and still didn’t have my luggage. Luckily I found my tour guide who had been organised to pick me up. I advised that I still hadn’t retrieved my luggage yet and so he interpreted this to the officials who led me in and I finally found the other luggage pickup stand! So I found mine, went through security checks, and then out!
I arrived at my hotel at about 12.30am (also organised by the tour). Days Inn Joiest Beijing is a pretty big hotel from the outside, but being a 3 star, I wasn’t expecting much. Beware- this hotel only offers wifi in the lobby! The last thing I needed. Being in Beijing alone and not being able to sleep till after 12, it definitely would’ve been heaps better if I had wifi in my room!
The room carpet had stains so it wasn’t clean and the room was really stuffy. For some reason the aircon controller didn’t work so I couldn’t turn the temperature down for it to be a little cooler. I didn’t bother bringing this up at the front desk because they wouldn’t know how to speak English anyways. The bathroom was really small but overall it was ok. It was fine in size because I was staying by myself.
If I were to come back to Beijing, I wouldn’t stay here again. Wifi is a necessity in all hotel rooms these days so not being able to provide this was definitely a let down.
As it was really humid in the hotel room, my skin was quick to react to this and got really red which wasn’t good. To make it worse I never had proper dinner but that’s only my fault on my behalf because I didn’t bother going out eating at restaurants alone and thought it was too much trouble trying to order in Chinese. I definitely think if you’re going to China, be prepared to face a million people of which only maybe 1% speak conversational English, so my best advice- learn some conversational Mandarin! It will definitely help. I know I only knew several lines but it sure did help me, and when you successfully communicate with the locals, it’s definitely satisfying 🙂