Friday, 31 December 2010

Get me out of here! (Dec 23, 2010)

It’s snowing at Heathrow. Let’s get this right: it snowed at Heathrow, all 5 inches of it, and now all the planes are stuck to the tarmac. By the looks of it , so is my airline’s website: can’t rebook our flight, can’t change our flight, can’t speak to a human being (connected to the airline) in London (or anywhere else in the UK, we’re not precious) or in the whole of China. Result: we’re not leaving Beijing on the 20th as planned. We’re staying indefinitely...

Or so it seemed until someone (ie me) had the bright idea to make use of our one consular contact. It appears the words British Embassy are the modern equivalent of Open Sesame. Within a few minutes of our call for assistance, the airline’s entire Asian operation it seems were ready to meet our every need (as I mentioned before, we’re not precious, we only had one need, to get home, preferably before Christmas day, or else, as he puts it: we’d have Peking Duck for Christmas Dinner).

I’m not complaining, compared to those who had to camp out at Heathrow over the weekend we had a lovely time. We got to stay in our nice hotel, we had a chance to revisit the Forbidden City (how many people can say that?) and we even went back to the Great Wall (a different bit of it this time: Mutianyu, it’s further away from Beijing than Badaling but well worth it). As I said, I’m not complaining about that, but there was something strangely unsettling about being stranded in limbo in a foreign city so far away from home with only a credit card between us and homelessness and starvation. Thank goodness for credit.

They got us back three days late but in the nick of time. With a day to spare. We’re very grateful. Especially for the upgrade which was devoutedly wished for but unexpected.

Note: This happy ending is the final blog entry for 2010 - wishing you all a very happy New Year and plenty of serenity and good fortune for 2011! See you then.

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