In November, we had a short trip to Beijing as part of the Malaysian Prime Minister’s official visit. Our visit was specifically related to PM’s high speed train site visit in Beijing. We arrived on Tuesday 1st November, and went back to Malaysia on Friday 4th Nov. Despite the short duration, this is by far the most eventful trip that I’ve had.
Tuesday 1st November 2016
My problems started during check in at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). My MAS flight to Beijing has a transit in Hong Kong.
- Flight: Cathay Pacific (code share with MAS & China Air)
- First leg: KL – Hong Kong CX1728 (MAS)
- Second leg: Hong Kong – Beijing CX6116 (China Air)
The counter girl (who happened to be new) said I can’t check in my luggage all the way to Beijing. She insisted that I need to collect it at Hong Kong, and re-checkin for Beijing. I told her I’ve never heard of such a thing as normally you can check it into your final destination (especially since it’s a code-share flight). She said no and checked it in for Hong Kong. Later I asked another counter and the guy was shocked. He said of course you can check it in all the way to Beijing! Needless to say the girl was scolded, and tried to change my bag’s destination at the sorting bay. She said “they’re are working on it”. Somehow as I boarded the flight I had a feeling that my problems are not over.
As we arrived in Hong Kong, there was a Cathay Pacific staff waiting for me. He informed me that they were informed of my luggage situation. They’ll find it and re-transfer it to Beijing. It won’t be on the same flight, but it will be sent “as soon as they find it”. I told the guy I can wait a few hours in Beijing, but it shouldn’t exceed 1 day. He said it shouldn’t be a problem. Well ..
Anyway, my China Air flight to Beijing was surprisingly OK. I’ve heard of stories of people taking China Air (like how it’s overly packed), but mine was rather OK. My travel agent had requested a “halal meal” for me. Because of that, I received my meal first! The rest of the passengers had to wait for the food trolley to pass by them.
When we arrived in Beijing, as expected, my bag wasn’t there. I had to fill in a missing luggage form, and they told me the bag will arrive “sometime tomorrow”. It was late in the evening, and I only had 1 spare shirt in my bag. It sucks by good thing there is no official meetings scheduled tomorrow, so I won’t be needing my suit.
We arrived at the hotel around 10:30PM. We stayed at the Park Hyatt Beijing. My room was a Park King. The superb room made up for not having my luggage with me. I had a new found appreciation for hotel toiletries as this time I really needed it! They even provided a Yukata (Japanese sleeping robe) which was extremely useful in my situation.
Wednesday 2nd November 2016
I woke up early and had a look outside the window. While the view was great, the infamous Beijing pollution was clearly apparent. At the time, the Air Quality Index (AQI) reading was 185! For comparison, back in Kuala Lumpur it was just 30. In Malaysia, if it reaches 100, schools are closed!
I went for breakfast at China Grill restaurant, located at the top floor of the hotel. It was meant to offer diners a nice 360-degree view of Beijing, but given the high AQI, you could hardly see anything.
After breakfast, I asked the receptionist to call China Air to enquire on my luggage. I was somewhat expecting for the bag to arrive this morning, but to my disappointment, China Air said the bag will only arrive in Beijing at 5PM, and most likely reach the hotel at 12 midnight. I was shocked! The receptionist said this is “completely normal”. Putting this incident aside, I decided to went on with the day.
We met a local counterpart and he took us for lunch meeting at Yan Lan Lou. It is of the many halal restaurants in Beijing serving a certain famous dish (I can’t recall the name now). Food was decent.
After lunch, we had some time to spare so our host suggested that we visit the Summer Palace. Historically, imperial palaces have been built in the area as early as 12th century. It was the Qing Dynasty (18th century) that developed the area into the Summer Palace as we know it today. It serves as luxurious garden for the royal families to rest and entertain their guests. Emperor Qianlong (1735CE-1796CE) oversaw the development of the impressive gardens and large water features that are now known as the landmarks of the Summer Palace.
The Summer Palace is also known for replicating interesting places from other parts in China. Emperor Qianlong visited Suzhou in 1762CE and was impressed with the architecture, that he ordered the replication of the street in Beijing (photo above).
In the evening, we had a dinner meeting with a few people from the Chinese railway industry. The dinner was at Hongbinlou Restaurant, the same halal restaurant that we went back in June (blog post here).
Hospitality by the Chinese, and the food served, was excellent. There was a fish dish that I find very interesting. Our host described with intricate detail on how the dish was prepared.
Later when we got back to the hotel around 10PM, I asked the receptionist again on the status of my luggage. The officer made a telephone call, and informed me the bag is on the way and will arrive before midnight. True enough, just before 12 midnight, my bag finally arrived. It was such a relief! This whole incident has taught me to always have enough spares (clothing and other essentials) in my carry on bag. A great reminder even to a frequent traveler like myself!
Related Posts: Short trip to Beijing Part 1, Part 2