Posted by Emily Block | 0 comments

Hong Kong to China

I guess the title is a little misleading considering I spend about two hours in Hong Kong before I flew off to Beijing, China.  

I spent the morning packing for my China/Tibet trip and exploring the mall that was right off the ship with Andrea.  It was probably the fanciest mall I have ever and will ever visit!  There were all the name brands like Gucci the other ones...for KIDS!  What kid needs a whole Gucci store to pick out clothes from?!?!  I don't think I bought anything other than some nasty KFC for lunch (it was the only thing I could afford! haha).

Then it was time to leave on my whirlwind trip around Tibet and China.  I started off almost missing the bus because I got behind struggling with my wheelchair on stairs.  Finally someone helped me and I made it to the bus just in time.  Whew!

I took some pictures as we drove through Hong Kong, but as most bus pictures tend to do, they didn't turn out very well.  There were many impressive bridges, buildings, and construction projects going on.

Airports in a wheelchair are always a challenge.  That kind of gets multiplied when I don't speak the language.  I got on the plane after a bit of minor complications.  I wasn't allowed to wheel my own wheelchair through the airport and the person who took over the wheelchair pushing was late.  STill, I got on the plane!  

And what a plane it was!  The thing was HUGE!  So huge that I could hardly tell when we took off or landed.  Each seat had it's own TV complete with movies, TV shows, and even games!  I watched a movie about a kid and a dolphin which was cute.  I would have certainly loved it when I was little!

We had a stop along the way, get off the plane and wait for it to be cleaned.  It was nice to stretch out legs and get some dodgy ice cream from one of the airport stores.  There were pea and corn flavored popsicles that no one was brave enough to try.  

The last flight was a short one and then we were in Beijing!  I was greeted off the plane with an airport wheelchair.  I was a little worried because I'm used to getting my own chair at this point, but they said I could go pick that up in baggage claim.  Whew.  

Although when I did pick it up in baggage claim, I saw that poor Benny (my wheelchair) was mangled.  :0(  There was no way that I could even sit in the chair, let alone get it to move.  I got very calm at that point which is a sign that I should be very stressed. 

It looked way worse in person.  

 The next four hours or so were spent banging my head against a brick wall.  Ok not really, but that was what it felt like. Things started off well.  The guy who wheeled me to baggage claim took me to an office for damaged baggage.  They started to fill out a damage report and then we started discussing (in a few words in English and hand gestures) what to do.  That was when the problem started.  They wanted me to take the broken wheelchair and get it fixed somewhere in the city and then drive the hour back and give them the receipt to get reimbursed.  This was not even remotely a possibility for me.  I was only in Beijing for a day and that day was booked with the tour.  They the offered to give me $70 and have me go.  That also wasn't a good option because I still wouldn't have a functional wheelchair.  I don't think people were understanding that this wasn't just a piece of luggage for me.  It was my freedom, my legs, my ability to participate in the tour.   Then they said that they couldn't do anything because there were no wheelchair repair places in China.  I stared at the guy who told me that with narrowed eyes and said, "So I'm the only one in China with a wheelchair?"  He laughed and walked away.  Then one of the group leaders and I sat in a room for a few hours going back and forth with the story changing and mostly being ignored.  We kept asking what we were waiting for and it was alway something different.  They were waiting for the manager, or the repair man, or...who knows. From the beginning I kept telling them that they probably could fix it there being an airport with lots of tools.  At around 9:00 they once again told me I had to wait another hour to find out how long I would wait after that for who knows what.  I basically got fed up at this point and told them that I was going home and they were going to get me a functional wheelchair.  One of the male guides translated this for me and poof! things started to happen.  If I were pessimistic I would say that the other leader/guide and I were being ignored because we were women.  They decided to let me rent a wheelchair for the next day and my male guide, who I got to know as Henry (the Awesome), would stay for whatever it was we were waiting past 10:00 for.  Turns out they were able to kind of repair it.  They put the seat on backwards and it doesn't fully open, but at least I got it back and I can sit in it without falling out now.  (I ended up getting it back the next night) But bloody hell that tested my patience!  Not to mention that everyone in my group was held up in a bus for hours waiting for me.  They finally got to leave about an hour before me and I took a bus all to myself back.  I think it is a testament to human nature that no one held that against me.

When I finally got to the hotel I was SO happy to see Andrea was there with her group too!  I had been really calm throughout the whole thing, and then I relaxed and melted a bit.  She gave me a big hug and commiserated on my crazy evening.  My luck continued to get better when I got to my room and found that it was REALLY nice and I had a great roommate.

It was a cozy place to sleep and recharge.  :0)


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