Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day 9 – Yangshuo-Guilin-Beijing

'Twas the last day of our 9-day family reunion of sorts, and it just seemed like yesterday I was busy packing to go on this trip. Our girl woke up at 9+am, and I thought she would be eager to get up, but she instead went back to sleep till past 10:30am! So I let her have a quick breakfast as she sat with Simon Ge Ge in the room…
I was actually eyeing the corn juice for Rosabelle a few days back as the store is just next to our hotel, but when I went out, it was still closed, so I ran about 50m to another store down the road. I saw that they had cute ball-like waffles and figured it’d be great for the kids, but I needed to wait 5 minutes for it to be done, so I asked the lady to be quick as the van was already here to pick us up and my brother was arranging for check-out.

However, by the time I ran back, they were obviously all waiting already, and were actually looking for me to ask where the remote control in my room went to (they found it in the drawers later). Whenever I go to a new hotel room with Rosabelle, I will quickly keep away all breakables and ‘fun but prohibited’ things like remote controls, keyboards, computer mouse (or the occasional ash tray) etc into the drawers.

Anyway, we then made our one-hour journey to the airport and the ball waffle was a hit with the kids, especially Simon, as he loves eating waffles. So worth waiting for, heh! We reached finally and managed to all check-in together – that’s the photo of the kids waiting on the luggage bags – one blurry shot of Simon, and another blurry one of Rosabelle, haha!
The boarding time for them was 2:25pm, whilst ours was an hour later at 3:35pm, so we all cleared customs together whilst I ordered RMB58 duck noodles from the canteen – bad, bad food, which Rosabelle did not eat much of anyway, cheh! As we were waiting, we all went to take free photos with the background of a huge aeroplane – free as in 2cm types they put into keychains, and you of course pay more for 8-inch ones. After that, there were no tearful farewells as my family left, just a lot of bear hugs, heh!

After a lousy lunch, I brought Rosabelle around to the shops since we had time to waste, and as I wanted to give her some water, realized that I had left the bottle in the restaurant! So off we sped, and thankfully it was still there, or the lousy lunch would be even more terrible if I’d lost the bottle!

Soon, we made our way to our boarding gate, and there was a very long line to get on board. As I was carrying a big bag and Rosabelle, I nicely asked the service staff at the counter if I could board first so I did not have to carry her and queue for so long, but nope, they flatly turned me down, stating unless I am on business class, I need to queue up like the rest. Sheesh! I have never been rejected on this request before – how child-unfriendly!

Anyway, it was a full flight and our girl was on her best behavior, even eating some of my dinner. The flight attendant claimed that there were no child meals, and even asked if I was paying chld fare or just an add-on(!). She then told me if they have any extra adult meals, she would bring one along. I was puzzled as the ticketing person at Air China had specifically told me no meals would be served on this flight. Obviously, the attendant forgot all about us and did not bring any extra meal, much less a peanut or bread for her. I was really quite pissed but could not be bothered to confront them on the plane. Our girl even slept for 40 minutes on my lap until I had to wake her up to get off the plane, heh!

Maybe it was because of the lack of sleep, but she wasn’t Miss Congeniality when we got down, though luckily she cooperated as I got the luggage. Wayne was already waiting at the arrival hall, and she did not even allow Papa to touch/carry her. Poor Daddy… especially after he was missing her and looking forward to seeing her, I’m sure!

In the car, I made my call to Air China complaint hotline and very harshly told them how disappointed I was that their airline was so child-unfriendly, in not giving me priority access to board the plane (told them to take the cue from Singapore Airlines and even make an announcement that the elderly and children have priority), and that they did not provide meals. Even if they were providing meals at the last minute, the system should show up that there is a child, and even if it didn’t, it should show her as a child ticket holder, and even if that did not show up, the attendant should have been flexible to provide some food! The lady checked in the system that there wasn’t supposed to have been any meals served, but promised to get back to me. I ended off with a 怎么感觉你们国航不欢迎小朋友的乘客的! (Resolution: Their Chongqing office called me and was very apologetic – the crew flew from Chongqing, and the lady brought the attendant and her in-flight supervisor in to question them. The former was a newbie and did not handle the situation well – she said she should have gotten back to me, and also escalate this to the supervisor who can make the call to provide the child with a meal. The supervisor, a lady I met on board, was very friendly towards us, and asked if she could have my number and call to explain and apologise, but since it has been escalated, the office had to do the explanation instead. Well, there was nothing else I could do about it, but am just glad I highlighted it.)

When we reached home, luckily she became warm with Papa again, and even let Nainai feed her dinner (which we had late at close to 8:30pm). That night, she was surprisingly active, maybe because of the late nights for the past week, so she only went to sleep way past 12am. Heh, at least that allowed me to steal 6 hours of sleep in between as she woke up only past 6am for a feed.

Now, my family did not have it that easy – they took the flight all-ok to Guangzhou, but their 4+pm Guangzhou-Singapore flight was affected by the Shenyang snow storms (maybe the plane was coming that way), and they had to stay in a Guangzhou hotel until 10+pm that night before they were all herded to take a 1am flight home. They only managed to reach Singapore at 6am the following day, poor thing! My mum said Simon was starving and ate bowl after bowl of the dinner they provided in the hotel. China Eastern is really quite cocked-up at times, but of course the bad weather was to blame…

Post-trip, of course I miss my family, and to this day, Rosabelle will speak of the whole gang in the same breath (for example, she will say Gong Gong, Po Po, Simon Ge Ge, Gu Gu, and Uncle Boa went to金港国际...), and say she misses them at times. It is really a nice family reunion and I am sure glad I decided to go at the last-minute. It wasn’t as tedious as I thought, as Rosabelle is really fiercely independent at times and would eat/walk around on her own, didn’t need much babying, and importantly, bonded well with my family, especially my brother whom she last met in October last year (for the first time at that!). I think she has matured/grown up over the trip and I really hope she picks up my travel bug genes and be happy to see/explore the world!

I told my brother we should plan more of such travel get-aways since we are all over the place, and really look forward to the next Loh-Toh-Shi get-together, hopefully with ALL family members in tow! (Now, I’m just ambitious…)

On the same topic about flights and travels, I realized only after we got back that Rosabelle is eligible for a junior frequent flyer card, so damn the ticketing and check-in persons who did not tell me when we checked in for our Guilin-Beijing/Beijing-Guilin flights, as she’s not eligible for any points if we apply AFTER the flights. Darn this Air China…

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