The following is part 2 instalment of an autobiographical short story by Badger from Ireland.
Having never been in a plane, and not afraid, but very excited, I arrived at Heathrow airport. Big buzz as many people very excited, stressed and many just confused. I was in plenty of time so I went and had lunch. Later when the gate opened , I made my way to the plane, the butterflies in my stomach were mounting, I was fit to burst. Up the steps and into the aircraft to be greeted by lovely smiling faces, I find my seat and look around, very nice and a bit plush. Screen on the chair in front of me, a window seat and not a soul beside me,heaven! Then came the safety announcements, and a short time later we started moving, taxing towards the runway, we took our turn and arrived at the start. Now I love fast cars and their acceleration, and of course I did not know what to expect, then off we went down the runway, j e s u s, c h r i s t WOW what a thrill, I just love that feeling of Power! Off the ground and up into the air, I had tears of joy, and recounting this, I have them again.
Well after the excitement of taking off we were up in the clouds and then above them, it was surreal, so beautiful and somehow, heavenly, now I started to fiddle with the gadget in front of me, oh my god, I can watch many films, play music and go on the internet. I thought I would leave that one, so it was music and films all the way, interrupted by lunch,afternoon tea, dinner and a snack late in the evening, then some sleep. Next morning, it was breakfast, every meal was lovely and was enough to sustain you, the crew were incredible, and made sure that your every need was catered for. 18 hours, how on earth does a plane carry enough fuel and all those passengers and baggage, all that way and stay in the air, absolutely incredible!
By this time I was getting a bit restless, I was a bit fed up of sitting down, then we got the announcement that we were approaching Hong Kong. As we came down for landing the levels of excitement started to build again. Looking out the window I could see all the skyscrapers and buildings packed close together, we circled around the city and began our final descent, until touchdown. We were on terra firma.
We were guided from the plane into the entrance, I was looking around in excitement with the knowledge that this young lady was waiting for me, or at least I hoped she was, then it struck me, what if she wasn't? I had never given that a thought, still I could sort that if it happened. Entering the building, still looking around, I noticed a number of people standing with placards of passenger names. I did not take any notice as I knew where I was supposed to go to get my internal flight into the Centre of China, so I was looking for the channel to allow me to proceed to my next flight. Then my subconscious came into play and I was aware that I needed to look behind me. There it was , my name written on a placard being held by a pretty Chinese lady. I told her that I was the person she was looking for and she said we must hurry as my connecting flight was soon. So we ran through the crowds, rushed through a huge crowd of people waiting to go through security, my passport was quickly checked and through we went, out of breath. The poor girl was scarlet in colour, she told me to wait and went to her desk, a few minutes later she came back and apologised, as my plane had been delayed, and would be an hour late, well at least I was in the right place and did not have to wait in the queue at security.
While I was waiting I strolled around the airport, a beautiful modern building, ultra clean and extremely efficient, keeping an eye on the arrivals board until at last in it came. So through the boarding gate and onto the smaller plane, greeted by smiling faces again, and off we went for a 2 hour flight to Wuhan, in the centre of China. No sooner in the air and I got a second breakfast, wow! This time there were no clouds and of course we were at a lower altitude, so I could see the landscape and villages and towns we passed over. We landed, then I had a start. What about my luggage on the other plane, my god I did not collect it! So off I went to the information desk to tell them my problem. I could see it was amusing to them, and they explained it would have been transferred and I should go to the collection point and pick it up. I travelled light, with only one bag as I knew I had limited weight allowance and I might want to bring back some items.
So I joined the queue at the security point and waited my turn,, now only 3/4 of an hour late I was wondering if she would still be here waiting? My mind was working overtime, when I arrived at the booth to show my passport, the man in the booth looked at me. I smiled at him to try to encourage him to let me through, his gaze went to my passport and then his computer screen, he picked up his phone and within half a minute I had a soldier guiding me to a chair near some offices. He gestured me to sit, and stood by me as a guard, his manner was very professional and calm, and I felt no threat. I noticed how smart he was in his uniform, I waited for 15 minutes, and an official came out and gave me my passport and was very polite and apologised for the delay and that I could proceed on my journey. I was so impressed by the method of this process, so polite and professional.
I recounted my experience at school with the project and wanted to see a tea garden while I was here, also I had been told of some negative things about the food and the animal care here, but I was going to keep an open mind and judge what I experience. So passport safely stowed away, baggage in hand, or at least being pulled behind me off I went to the arrivals lounge.
Sorry next instalment soon, must eat !