Friday, October 31, 2008

CUTI CUTI ASIA SHENZHEN (HONG KONG) June 19-24, 2008 (Day 1)

June 19, 2008 (Thursday)
LCCT – Shenzhen - Flight AK88

We had to rush even with our best effort to be as early as possible. I hate being late and I hate rushing but it happened. Nothing we could do about it as it was Airasia’s checkin counter mess. I knew why we were rushed to the plane because Mr Fenandez recently came out to announce that they will compensate all flyers if they were delayed. With small children how can we move that fast? Luckily, even we did not get seats next to one another at least close enough to each other. I just wanted to read and sleep as soon as I was on board but Mar and hunger distracted me. Both Along and Baqir were fast asleep the minute they were seated. That’s because they had been staying up the whole night. One of my colleagues in the office recently remarked that Airasia is not ready for international flight and having had the first hand experience I guess she has a point. Another thing that disturbed me was the kiasu behaviour of most of the passengers. Yes, we know we did not have our seat assigned but do we have to be like children to board. I am not about to insult them but it was as if that was their first time on a plane. All the decency and courtesy suddenly just went out of the windows when we were ready to board. I hope time will change that.

On a short flight I normally like to have an isle seat so I just settled myself next to two China nationals. When I decided to sit there they sort of made sound complaint and I said to them in English that, ‘I bought my ticket legally as well you know and may picked any seat that I wish because Mr Fanendez decided you all had to fight for them.’ Obviously with their limited English they did not have a clue to what I said and I just smiled at them. My agenda as soon as we boarded was to read and maybe doze off in preparation for the days in China, Mar’s was to order her favourite hotdogs, Baqir and Ghazi their lunch but they were fast asleep already so I let them sleep. It was a short 4 hour flight where the takeoff was lousy.

Since I was in the isle seat I could not see Shenzhen’s bright city lights when we approached to land but by the glimpsed I judged it to be quite a big city. Everyone was excited and we landed safely at around 2030. It was a breeze to get through the immigration where the only small incident was when the immigration lady attending to my travel documents being OA. Of course I had my US visa and just returned from the US and having the Visa does not mean I am a US citizen. Still she found it necessary to notify her superior that I had a US visa. On hearing her explanation her supervisor just gave a dry smile as if just to please her. Maybe she was just that type of person. Of course all these were conducted in Chinese and my guess would not be that far from the truth.

After that was the hard part – how to figure out the best way to go to our hotel. My instinct said taxi but I needed to explore other alternatives, if there was any. I asked the lady at the tourist bus ticket counter and she misunderstood my question. Then I asked one airport security guy he replied to me in Chinese. Well he tried his best to be helpful, I salute him for that, and in the end both of us sort of agreed that the best way is to take taxi. For us it meant three taxis. With that I pull out the small hotel map with the hotel name in Chinese and get everyone to wait at the taxi stand. I showed the first driver our destination and he understood immediately and I asked Ngah, Tariq and family to take the first one. I showed the map to the second driver and he was confused, how could that be the hotel name was in Chinese, and when the first driver saw us struggling with the second driver he came over to explain and he did the same with the third driver. With that off we went into Shenzhen’s night. From inside the taxi I could see Shenzhen was very dry and no sign of rain at all let alone flood as reported in other part of southern China. I was worried that we will end up with a wet holiday but by all indications thus far was encouraging.

Early on we realized that taxi driver would want to rule the road in Shenzhen and their best friend is the horn. As they kept on blaring the horn at every opportunity. The drive was fast and smooth it was just like from KLIA to KL, from the kampong area into the city. Observing the traffic on the highway I could fit in straight away and I will enjoy it as well because in Shenzhen even the trucks and busses were ‘mencilok’, jumping, from lane to lane. Shenzhen as a city began to take shape as we rode in and it was definitely a big city where development had been rapid. It was too early to get my bearing but I did recognize certain areas from my first short visit.

To our surprise our taxi was the first one to arrive and I straight away check ourselves in. We had to wait for a while before the others to arrive. I was worried for a while there and was calling everyone to make sure they were on the way. Tired and smelly we staggered to our room and was surprised to find out that it was actually not a three rooms apartment. I went down to the counter to enquire and with their limited English they said that the apartment that I booked was actually 3 bed apartment not a 3 bedrooms apartment. I just laughed in their face when I heard the explanation. I had no choice as they ddi not have a three rooms actually so we decided, all 13 of us, to squeeze into the two bedroom apartment. After all it is just going to be a place for us to sleep. With our luggage in the room I announced that we were going out for dinner. We were lucky when we came in I saw the word Muslim on one of the restaurant’s door nearby and we walked there. The night was quite humid that should have warned us for the days ahead. But we were too happy to be derailed by things like the weather. The dinner was ok and I could guess we could only last for two days on that kind of food. The taste and the ingredients used were not for our palate. But because we were hungry we just ate. I paid around 200 yuan for the meal that was roughly around RM100. When we came in there was already a Malay family eating and I say Malay because the lady was wearing tudung and they looked Malay. When they were finished they were good enough to come over to our table to say hello and chat. They were actually from Brunei and would be leaving Shenzhen the next day. She shared about her, mostly, shopping experience, and when we said that we will be staying for five days she excitedly exclaimed lamanya! Well that is relative for a shopping mad individuals and it may not be enough he he. And before they left they warned us about pickpockets as well as Yuan conman. If we were to use a 100 yuan bill they will switch it with a fake one and tell us our bill is fake. So my advice is not to use 100 yuan bill in any small outlet and only use them in big shopping complex. Even then please be careful.

I thought we were going to walk to check out the rest of the place there but everyone was tired. Tired? It was only a 4 hour flight and they were tired. Since we were going to have an early morning I relented. All of us accept those watching the EURO 08 went to sleep early. The room came with a free broadband internet and I spent some time surfing and reading my emails.

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