Day 45: September 5th
Today was our last full day in China. We had an afternoon bus from Dali to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province. We were told by many of our fellow travelers that there was nothing too special about Kunming so we decided to just spend a night there before our flight out the next day.
The bus ride to Kunming was supposed to be around 4 hours but took closer to seven as our bus driver, who by the way was chain smoking in our air-conditioned bus decided that he didn’t want to go over 40kmph. I guess its hard to drive when one hand is occupied with your cigarette!
The drive was otherwise quite uneventful with no remarkable scenery. Its a miracle we got there safely! 🙂 We finally trudged into our hostel around 8pm. The drive had drained us. A quick dinner of noodles in the neighborhood and we were ready for bed.
Day 46: September 6th
Finally we were flying out of China today. Although we’ve had a wonderful wonderful time here, over the last few days both Bill and I have been feeling a bit restless and ready to move on. China, though beautiful and a wonderful place to travel, can get tiring. I was definitely feeling weary and ready to move on. Even though we didn’t have much of a language barrier given Bill’s mandarin skills, it is still exhausting. From trying not to get ripped off at restaurants, shops to dealing with people constantly wanting to take pictures of Bill! 🙂 Being blond attracts a LOT of attention in China. Sigh, no one wants a picture with me! 🙂 I guess having dark hair isn’t much of a novelty in these parts. Haha!
So, around 11am, Emily(who also happened to be flying out of China today), Bill and I found ourselves in a taxi to Kunming airport. Emily went her own way to Kathmandu and we had to wait a bit longer to check-in. We were flying Thai Airways to Bangkok and had an 8 hour lay over there before our flight to Milan.
So we finally get to the counter and we’re asked for the credit card that we used to book the ticket(a common practice to verify identity). The only problem was that the card we used to book this ticket.. I might add, more than six months ago when we were living in Singapore, had expired and we had a new card was completely different number. First, we had to explain that to the counter staff. Once she understood what we were saying, she said that she still needed the full card number and only then she could issue our boarding passes. We were easily able to verify our ID with our passport and other multiple photo IDs but that didn’t matter. They had their “rules” to follow. We thought this was absurd as she insisted that we call our bank in the US (a full 12 hours behind us.. which meant it was past midnight) to get our old card details. Now I don’t know about you, but normally I don’t keep track of my old credit cards that have expired and been cut up into pieces. Of course, the lady in charge refused to use her discretion to issue us our boarding passes. We finally managed to log into the airport wifi and a tense 30 minutes later managed to dig out from one of our old credit card statements, the card number!! Most receipts and invoices cross out the card number except for the last four digits. Phew! We hadn’t even boarded our flight yet and we were exhausted by all this haggling.
Finally, we board and arrive in Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. For those of you who have been here, you know how large it is. Just to give you a sense, we had to walk to our transfer counter (to get our onward boarding pass) which was 900 mts away! That’s a whole km! And the airport went even further after that!:)
We decided on board that we would get to the customer service counter at the airport(we had to walk the length of the airport again!:)) and see if we could get upgraded or get executive lounge access since we had a long layover.. may be we had a stronger case given the trouble we had in Kunming and that we were bumped off our flight from 4th Sept to the 6th of Sept(that happened a few weeks ago). It was worth a try.
I was ready to argue and be all aggressive when we got to the counter but I was pleasantly surprised when they told us that they would not only move us to the exit row, but also give us lounge access! 🙂 They were extremely kind and understanding.
So, right now, we are relaxing in the Thai Airways lounge. I’ve just had some pretty good chicken tikka(my first taste of Indian food in over a month) and on my third cup of chai. This has all worked out pretty well after all. We still have three hours to kill before our flight.. but with such comfort, I can hardly complain. 🙂
Tomorrow, we get to Milan and meet up with Bill’s parents. We’ll be spending a week in Lake Como and hiking the trails around the villages in the Cinque Terre with them. I can hardly wait! Its my first time in Europe (outside of the UK). Over the next nine weeks we will be in Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Portugal, France and England.
Stay tuned for part two of our trip.