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China Adventures: Beijing to GuiYang and Back

Discussion in 'Trip Experiences' started by Shawn White, Dec 5, 2014.

  1. Shawn White

    Shawn White Hangar Silver Member I

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    December 3-5, 2014

    This last week I had an exciting opportunity to go on a quick, two-day trip down to Gui Yang, in Southwestern China. I was traveling with my dad, who was going as part of a charity program by Legend Holdings and Lenovo. They have been sponsoring and running a high school to provide quality education to low-income students who are unable to pay for higher eduction. (There is free, public education, but only up till 9th grade.) 2014 was their 10th Year Anniversary, so besides the giant program they already had planned, they also invited my dad and I to fly down to GuiYang and give a 2-hour presentation on English study methods and tips, and also a big section on dreams, passions, and life goals. I was super excited when I was somehow roped into the deal to go along also, since I've never been out to that part of China, and I figured another two flights might be a fun experience. We were on a VERY tight schedule though, since we were both taking days off from school/work, so we left early morning on Wednesday and were back by Thursday night to go to school the next day on Friday.
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    Our first flight going there was with Air China CA1462, flying directly from Beijing to GuiYang, for just over 3 hours, on the A320 (B-9926). On the way to the airport we got stuck in terrible rush-hour traffic, but we did make it to the airport around 90 minutes early. I was freaked out that all the good seats would already be assigned, but I guess all the other passengers were late also, since we got choice window seats, comfortably near the front. After check-in we still had some time, so we stopped by the Chinese Burger King. The food and the prices are pretty similar to anywhere else, with a normal meal costing around $3-10.
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    After eating we took the train one stop over to the "D" section of Terminal 3, where most of the domestic and local flights are. We went through security, and I was very proud to successfully get my tiny pocket-knife with pliers through, camouflaged in a giant case of Gopro mounts, spare lenses, and coins. My joy was short lived when it got confiscated on the flight back. :(
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  2. AeroDon

    AeroDon Administrator

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    Shawn,
    I really like your trip experiences. Keep them coming.
     
  3. Shawn White

    Shawn White Hangar Silver Member I

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    Flights out of T3 are always preferable over ones from T2, just because of all the extra restaurants, cafes, shops, and great views of the runway. Without actually stopping for too long, I happened to get a whole bunch of lucky shots, spotting the Air China 747-8i, Xiamen Airlines 787-8, Hainan Airlines 787-8, as well as the China Southern A380-8, and a bunch of "normal" planes. _MG_4169.JPG

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    The flight began boarding an hour late, but I didn't even notice the time until later on the flight, just because we only got to the gate like 5 minutes before the original time, so one hour was just enough time for pictures and a quick nap. We got seats 12K and 12L, just in front of the wing and engine. We had to wait in line for about 20 minutes before we could take off, but after that it was a pretty smooth flight. We actually had a break in the smog, and I had a clear view of the ground for the majority of the flight! You won't know how rare an opportunity this is until you have flown into Beijing or another Smogged city on a "normal" day. :)

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    As we climbed to cruising altitude, I spotted a famous section of the Great Wall that I had previously visited, and it was very fun to be able to recognize it! After the takeoff I figured that I wouldn't be shooting anything on the ground, so I packed my Canon (18-135mm lens) back into bag, just so I wouldn't have to hold it the whole flight; I kept my GoPro and Ipod with me just for the wide angle shots out the window, and a few cabin shots.
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    Above and Below: The same section of the Great Wall, from two different perspectives.
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    When we got on the plane, I was trying hard to notice any specialties on the plane, since I was curious how different it would feel from the 737 we'd be flying the next day. The two things I did really notice were how quiet the flight was (both because it was an Airbus and since we were in front of the engines) and, unfortunately, how tiny the windows were. Their size was really not impressive, and I kind of had to crane my neck down to look out.
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    Half-way through the flight, they served lunch, which this time included some weird delicacies like herbal jelly and spicy tofu, and pickled crunchy stuff. I highly regret trying them. :eek: Guizhou's climate is much more humid and wet, so as we got nearer the cloud layers started to thicken. When we finally came in to land we couldn't see anything outside. Once we finally touched down, we could see just how close the mountains were, and that was quite a sight. We went through the airport very quickly since we didn't have any checked luggage, and we proceeded off to the hotel to get ready for the rest of the events planned.
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    That evening we had dinner with all the teachers and heads of the programs, and we got to try a lot local dishes, as well as their Baijiu: a useful ingredient for DIY bomb-maker's due to the 63% alcohol levels! The next 36 hours were a fast blur of action, going back and forth from short naps, meeting important people I had never met before, preparing powerpoint slides, taking Selfie pictures with around 200 different Chinese students, and finally giving a presentation in front of 500 people. It was lot's of fun, but I was ready to collapse after about the first 12 hours of the action. The program went great, and everyone enjoyed the activities. Most of the Chinese performances earlier on were very interesting, but still relatively formal and stiff, with people singing, dancing, and giving speeches, so we tried to make our presentation as exciting and lively as possible. At times we might have gone rather off-topic from the original plan, but everyone had fun, and I think it was a great experience for everyone involved, definitely including myself.
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    We finished our last powerpoint at about 4:30pm, and we immediately went from the stage to the van, since we had the return flight booked for 7:20pm, and we were a good 50km away from the airport (travelling through the mountains by the way).
     

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  4. Lord Leighton

    Lord Leighton Hangar Gold Member I

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    Good Job Shawn! Quite an opportunity for a young man yer age! Enjoy! Funny how ya learn twice by teaching huh! :)
     
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  5. Shawn White

    Shawn White Hangar Silver Member I

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    By the time we got to the airport, we had about 1 hour left till our flight was scheduled to take off! Thankfully though, the airport wasn't too hard to get through, and since the flight wasn't totally full, there were still a bunch of free seats. For the return flight we were flying with China Southern (CZ3653), and we got seats 50A and C. Once we got to our gate, we looked at the clock and decided we still had 15 minutes till boarding, so my dad and I went to find some food. First I ordered some sort of cheese noodles, and they said they didn't have that; then I ordered a bacon sandwich, and they said that was out also. Finally I was like "So what do you have???" The only dish they apparently were cooking at the time was beef noodle soup, so we got two bowls of that. About the moment after we had sat down and payed they announced that our flight was boarding. Agghhh. That was about the worst meal I ever ate. Anywhere. They way overcharged us, the noodles tasted terrible, and we tried to scarf down the boiling food in about 5 minutes. Yeah, it was rather painful. After that traumatic experience we ran back towards our gate, all the while listening to the announcements that the gate was about to close... We were the last two people to get on the plane, and the cabin crew literally closed the door as soon as we walked in. #toocloseforcomfort #gunkynoodlesoup.
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    By this time I had gotten about 10 hours of sleep in the previous 48 hours, so I was pretty wiped. I really didn't do much on the flight back, and I kind of just sat there with a "Blah" look, staring mystified at the seat in front of me. I did happen to notice though, that the 737-700/800 was somewhat nicer than our earlier A320. China Southern's plane looked a bit older and worn, and their colors were horrendous, but the plane itself was very comfortable. The windows were about an inch bigger all-around, the seats felt maybe half an inch wider, and there was noticeably more legroom. Other than that, the flight was about the same as the earlier one. I really tried to take some pictures, but the lighting (or the lack of) wouldn't allow it. I tried everything possible, but in the end you still really couldn't see much. For any other photo-geeks, I was shooting on the highest ISO 6400, with the biggest Aperture of f3.5, and with a shutter speed of just 1/2 a sec, but yeah, that still didn't work very much.
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    We flew into Beijing a few minutes before our scheduled 10:40pm, but then spent over 40 minutes going on a rodeo around the airport. I wasn't sure if we got lost or what, but we landed near the back of T3, zig-zagged across, and finally parked way behind T2. Then we got off and took a shuttle bus in another big circle back around to the front of T2. I was just like "WHY???? I NEED SLEEP!!!!" _MG_4332.JPG

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    In the end we did finally make it home, and it ended up being a good end to a great trip. I had a fun time flying and shooting pictures, and it was also a growing experience getting to see a totally different world. I talked to so many different people and heard stories about what life there is like. Many of the students we gave the presentation to came from families who made less than $1000/year, and many family members never went more than 2 hours away from their city because they couldn't afford to travel. Even after whatever they had gone through every single person who I talked to was still positive, enthusiastic, and excited about their future. During a break between events a group of three students invited me to play birdie/badminton with them, and about minutes later there was a line of 300 people waiting to rotate in and play against me. Lot's of small moments like that made the trip really special, and totally worth the sleep lost. I also added another couple miles to my frequent flier cards; maybe at some point I'll finally get a free upgrade or something. :D
     
  6. Everett 757

    Everett 757 Hangar Silver Member VI

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    Excellent! Thanks Shawn, for posting this!
     
  7. Shawn White

    Shawn White Hangar Silver Member I

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    Thanks! It's fun posting them.
     
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  8. Sam

    Sam Administrator Staff Member

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    Shawn, Thanks for sharing your trip experiences.
     
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