After 4 months of waiting, I was finally able to set foot in the country that I wanted to visit the most.
Thanks to Cebu Pacific Air, I was able to experience the culturally rich Chinese capital of Beijing. Also, thanks to them, I was able to experience a 19-hour delay in flight and my sister was able to experience having her luggage lost. Anyway, I’ll discuss that later at the end of this post.
We rushed to Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 at around 5:50 in the afternoon. Our flight was supposed to leave by 7:30 PM. Early birds we’re definitely not. Thank goodness that traffic going to the airport was light. By 6:20 PM, we were already in NAIA.
My sister and Arman told me that we have to pay a travel tax, something that I didn’t have to do when I went to Jakarta. That’s weird. I guess Cebu Pacific removes that from their fares to make it seem like their fares are cheaper. I wasn’t too happy about the travel tax since I only have 6,000 PhP in pocket money. After paying the travel tax, we headed to the check-in counters. The line there was pretty long and it was moving quite slowly. We then paid the airport tax and passed through immigration.
Our flight got delayed by an hour. It was a blessing in disguise though since we forgot to have our money changed. I was able to exchange only half of my pocket money to RMB (Chinese Yuan) since the foreign exchange booth only had 445 RMB. One booboo I made was that I forgot to have the other half of my pocket money exchanged for US Dollars. So yeah, I went to Beijing with only 445 RMB at hand. Thank God my sister lent me some when we got there.
I tried sleeping inside the airplane but the seats were just too uncomfortable – the seats were tough plus there wasn’t enough legroom. Oh well, I shouldn’t expect much since Cebu Pacific is a low-cost carrier. Also, I was very excited so I guess that added to me not being sleepy. The flight to Beijing was 4 and a half hours long.
We arrived in Beijing at around 1:45 in the morning. At first I thought we were in their new terminal but I saw a sign that is welcoming us to Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 2. It still looks new that’s why I thought it was the new one built for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
We breezed through customs and immigration. Their customer services was fantastic, they’d even ask for your feedback after passing through their immigration. How I wish good service is also a priority in Manila.
I really messed up (or I thought I did) when I didn’t fully read an e-mail my sister sent me a day before our flight. I thought she just copied me in an e-mail about the transfer from the airport to our hotel. Apparently, she was asking me to respond on her behalf. Goodness. We had no choice but to ride a cab outside the airport.
When we were outside, I can already feel that my sister was a little mad that I didn’t respond to the e-mail. Because of that, I felt that I should be the one to take charge of getting us from the airport to the hotel. We walked to the queue of cabs outside and instantly a group of cab drivers were talking to us. One offered to take us to the hotel. I asked him how much and he said it would be metered. My sister and Arman said it was okay so we followed the guy. He lead us to a van with no marks of being a cab at all. I suddenly recalled that I read somewhere in PinoyExchange to avoid such vans. I told my sister this so we told the driver that we’re not interested anymore. While walking away, he shouted he’d take us there for only 200 RMB. So much for being metered.
We just decided to fall in line behind a bunch of other people who are waiting for a cab. I’ve read that official Beijing taxis have a 京B at the start of their license plates so I told my sister about it. When we got a cab, we told the driver that we’ll be going to Novotel Beijing. At first we thought that the driver knew where our hotel was. Apparently, he didn’t. He asked if I had the address written so I gave him the one that I printed. I thought it was already okay after that but…
Our driver suddenly pulled over and asked another driver for directions. At that point, Arman told me to use my Mandarin skills.
Just a tip, if you’re going to China, do study Mandarin. Even just the basics. It sure helped us a lot when we were going around.
Anyway, so I went down the cab and talked to the driver. I told him – in Mandarin – the address of our hotel.
yi hao chong wen men xi da jie, dong cheng qu (No. 1 Chongwenmen West Street, Dong Cheng District)
I swear, it was such a big hooray moment for me when I saw in his eyes that he understood what I told him. I should’ve done that in the first place. Not bad for someone who’s just self-studying Mandarin, eh? My sister and Arman were pretty amazed as well. He took a U-turn and went straight. Goodness, we were originally going the opposite way! In just 15 minutes, we were already outside Novotel. I asked the driver – in Mandarin (haha, I’m really proud of it) – how much our fare was. He paid for the toll fee so we had to return that one as well. In total, we paid him 113 RMB. Arman said it was a good thing that we didn’t get the airport-hotel transfer since it would’ve cost us 350 RMB.
So that’s our journey to Beijing. I’d be writing a journal entry on our brief stay in the amazing capital of China as well as our not so wonderful experience with Cebu Pacific on our way back to Manila.