I was looking forward to our Chinese trip—the journey, not so much.
These days, flying is a pain. Keeping Mark (and my in-laws) busy and happy added a new dimension to hell, and we were going to be stuck above ground for 14 hours, plus the Ottawa-Toronto flight. Ugh.
We met my in-laws at Ottawa’s airport, went through security and waited for the Toronto-bound noon flight. It was much quieter than at Christmas and Mark had fun watching the “bateaux” landing (anything that moves is a “boat” now, to him).
Once in Toronto, we rushed to our terminal and my in-laws joined the huge line-up of Chinese passengers waiting for the boarding call. Problem was, we had a good two-hour wait time. My in-laws wanted to go in the priority line with Mark but I put my foot down: “look, the plane is right here, we are not going to miss the flight, it won’t leave without us. I am not spending an extra hour on the ground inside the plane with Mark,” I explained.
When we finally boarded (right on time), we had a nice surprise: there were two free seats in the rows in front of us. Since Mark isn’t two yet, he travels for free but he has to sit with me. My mother-in-law moved to the row in front of us—I think she was secretly happy to be left alone—and Mark sat between Feng and I. Perfect.
Mark isn’t scared of flying, which I guess is a good thing. He doesn’t cry nor fuss… but he moves a lot. We managed to put him to sleep for a few hours (four or five?) and I dozed off as well. I can’t tell you what we did for the rest of the flight, time in the air goes by at its own weird pace, but somehow we made it.
It was a pretty quiet an uneventful flight considering the crowd of Chinese people—I guess I’m stereotyping, but Chinese can be pretty rowdy, especially when they drink!—and the long journey. I just wish the passenger behind us hadn’t been sick every hour or so… oh, and the food was crap. Come on, Air Canada, convenience store-style cup noodles?!
We took the Arctic route and then flew above Russia, Mongolia, and eventually landed in Beijing. Goodbye Canadian blue sky… it was hazy, we could barely see the ground until the very end.
Once at Beijing Airport—a very modern bee hive—we went through immigration and picked up our backpacks. It was about 6 a.m. Ottawa time, so we had been traveling for almost 24 hours by then—needless to say, we were all sweaty, hungry and tired. Mark was great, though, he wasn’t complaining.
My father-in-law insisted to get a taxi from the airport to the hotel, so we queued for 30 minutes to get one. We somehow fit the luggage in the tiny car and off we went. For the first 15 minutes, there was no traffic and it was just the perfect ride—Mark had fallen asleep on me and I was finally breathing Beijing’s unique atmosphere.
Then we got stuck in the traffic. Like, really stuck. Mark woke up, Feng and his dad started arguing, and we decided to take the subway. His dad stayed in the taxi, we got off with the backpacks, the stroller and Mark who seemed to find the situation absolutely hilarious.
We took the subway all the way to the hotel, including multiple transfer and a one-kilometre walk from the station in Qian Men. It was crazy. It was fun, actually.
We still made it before my father-in-law.
Once the room opened and the backpack down, I didn’t know where to start. We needed to eat, wash and sleep—and fast.
I took Mark in the shower with me, rinsed us both (and flooded the bathroom), put on clean clothes and we went to look for food. Beijing people eat rather early and most restaurants were closed but we managed to find a place that was still open and wolfed down noodles and spicy eggplants.
We bought water, took another shower and finally all passed out in bed.