Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Beijing experiences I

I have never been to Beijing before the Olympics so there is no reference for me to compare how much the capital city has changed. Post-Olympics era is a widely discussed topic in all walks of life, the financial analyst, the politicians and I am interested to see if the civilization has been up lifted along with the modern infrastructure.

The Beijing Capital International Airport is a huge monster. After the immigration check (T3E), passengers reclaim their luggage by a 5 minute ride on a shuttle train that takes passengers to the other side of the terminal (T3C). There are 3 terminals in the airport. Terminal 1 (T1) serves domestic flights of Hainan Airlines, and T2 and T3 serve airlines worldwide. It is advised to find out at which terminal your filght is via the airport website before departure. The airport express shuttles passengers to the Sanyuanqiao (line 10) and Dongzhimen (line 2) subway station, 25RMB; about a 20mins ride, where the passengers can transfer themselves around the city center by a mass subway network. Buses to Xidan, Beijing Railway Station, Gongzhufen, Fanzhuang, Zhongguancun and some other locations are also avaliable at a cost of 16RMB, operating time: 05:30 ~21:00, every 15 mins interval. We took a cab to the Xiqiao Novotel hotel, 85RMB+10RMB toll fee; 45 mins.

I checked into the 4 star Xiqiao Novotel Hotel around 17:30 and the reception gave me a card key that couldn't open my room. I dragged my luggage to the elevator trying to go back to change the key. An elevator door opened and a staff was in it, I was happy that I could ask him to take care of the key problem instead of going down by myself with all my luggage. I said to him "excuse me, ..." before I could finish my sentence he closed the door leaving me alone in the empty hallway, speechless. I got a new card for my room, this time it worked then I realized that the reception didn't give me back my reservation documents in which was contained my e-tickets for the flights and a hotel reservation in Macau while I was settling down. I called the reception and asked for the documents back, the guy who picked up the phone told me impatiently that he didn't know what I was talking about and seemed not intent in helping me to find the documents. I went down to the reception again and asked the staff to look for the documents, that's when they started to look for the paper. It 's perplexing to see a well equipped 4 star hotel have such lousy services. My friends were glad that none of these incidences happended to them but what they didn't know was something bigger coming when they were checking out. To secure potential expenses, the hotel asked for a 500RMB deposit on credit card. When checking out, they asked to cancel the deposit. The reception didn't return the credit card to my friends after checking out; a few hours later when my friends went back to the hotel to reclaim their luggage, the concierge failed to convey the message from the reception to my friends. It was not until they landed in Taiwan and realized the credit card was lost. She registered the loss of the card and text messaged me to go back to the hotel to find the card for her.

We had an appointment with my boss in his hotel lobby at 19:00. It took us more than one hour to go to the hotel. By the time we arrived, he was pissed. He yelled at us" it should be you guys waiting here for me not the other way around" Well, it's wrong being late but considering our arrival time and the time spent in metro, we didn't think we deserved that. After all, someone picked him up directly from the airport and helped him checking into the hotel, but we didn't have that kind of privilege.

The trip started all wrong in the first place, nobody was in the mood to go out and around after dinner. On our first night in Beijing we went to bed early.

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