It’s Saturday night in Hong Kong. We just touched down and have a short train ride to our hostel before we can call it a night. We are braving the Chungking Mansion for one night before moving into a nicer hotel. Hopefully we’ll be so tired it won’t matter. It feels like we’ve been flying forever.
We left for Dulles Friday morning for our United flight to Beijing. We had to go through a special check in line because we had a connecting flight out of China with another airline and no Chinese visa.
The united staff weren’t sure if we’d be allowed to exit customs to pick up our bags in the Beijing airport so we had to carry on everything. Fortunately we packed in carry-on compliant bags. The flight was around 13 hours, which was a nice surprise since it was originally listed as just under 15 hours.
When we got to the Beijing airport there were no good directions. All we knew was we had to find Hong Kong Airlines so we could check in to our next flight and get boarding passes. Looking out the windows at the airport, the smog was so thick we could barely see the afternoon sun.
We wandered aimlessly and kept getting pointed toward the international transfers line by the few security guards we could find. The line went quickly but the gentleman said we were in the wrong line. We needed to go through the 72 hour visa-free transit line instead because our flight departed out of terminal 2 and we were in terminal 3.
It was the shortest line of people in the customs area yet we were still standing in the same place long after every other line had cleared. We landed around 3-4 pm Beijing time and didn’t get through the 72 hour visa-free transit line until 6:15.
When it was our turn, the security guard stamped a temporary entry pass into our passports and waved us to go on toward terminal 2. Problem was, there were no signs for any terminals, just baggage claim and domestic transfers. Our only option was to get on a shuttle train that made one stop. When we got off we wandered towards baggage claim and found many more airport staff working this section of the airport (we could hardly find anyone to direct us before) they nodded and pointed us to continue forward when we asked about terminal 2.
Past baggage claim we found a sign announcing free transfers to terminal 1 and 2. We had to exit the airport, walk past the local buses and found the transfer bus at door 5. The bus to terminal 2 took much longer than we expected. It felt almost like we were going to another airport entirely. When we made it to terminal 2 we had to go through a preliminary checkpoint, wait in line at the airline counter to check in and get boarding passes, go through exit customs and then go through airport security before walking to our departure gate.
We made it to our gate just as boarding started at 7:25. Definitely allow for plenty of time to get through the Beijing airport if you are connecting there.
We arrived at our hostel. It’s only for one night becuase everything was booked due to the New Years holiday. It’s so late that all the shops on the first floor are closed, but there are plenty of touts still wandering around, ready to offer their direction and sales pitch to tourists. We found block E and took the elevator up to the 5th floor where our hostel was located, only to find that we needed to check in on the 3rd floor since it was after midnight.
When we rang the doorbell, a sleep man buzzed us in and had just lifted off his mattress on the floor as we filed in. Despite having reserved a triple bed private on the 5th floor with Shanghai Hostel, he gave us a key for a 2 bed double private on the 7th floor in the Canadian Hostel.
The beds are suprisingly big (actually two double mattresses, so we can fit more than comfortably) but the room isn’t much bigger than the two beds combined. The linens leave a lot to be desired with their frayed holes, yet we somehow have a flat screen TV and a telephone. And check out that strange curtain hack to allow the aircon unit to blow through. I can’t stop laughing. The Chungking Mansion is everything it was reviewed to be online. Wish us luck.
And sorry for the blurry phone pics. I’ll pull out my camera tomorrow.