We’ve arrived! Immigration was a breeze: the easiest yet. All the desks were manned and open. Very efficient. About 20 in all for residents and visitors combined and absolutely no queues. Has anyone ever seen Heathrow open all the desks?? Maybe they’re saving them for a busy day :-)
When we filled in our visa application in Singapore we had to state where we were intending to visit and what our occupation is as certain trades are not allowed in. We’d already fibbed as we didn’t think it best to say ‘Unemployed’ so we put ‘Bank Clerk’ and I gave Goldman’s address and my old desk phone number J So I’m expecting to be grilled about why we’re in China and I’m ready to say “I’ve come to see the Giant Pandas” and the happy smiling Chinese man simply puts a pen tick on my visa, stamps my passport with the date and smiles as he hands back my passport! Easy peasy! Fastest immigration yet!
Also worth a mention was the interactive feedback panel on the counter – five faces ranging from big smiles for “Greatly Satisfied” to upset face for “Greatly Dissatisfied” and you were encouraged to push the face that you felt. I happily squished the Greatly Satisfied button as I skipped away from the desk. Ben and I later wondered if there was a spot prize at the end of the shift for the border guard with the best rating and hence they were so smiley and quick. If anyone knows anyone who works at a UK airport please suggest this! And preferably before we return into LHR :-)
The next excitement was found at the baggage carousel. Now please correct me if I’ve been mislead but is there not an unspoken code amongst Westerners that if you’re first to the baggage carousel with your trolley then that is YOUR space and someone can only squeeze up to the belt temporarily to retrieve their bag as it passes and must then move back…!!??? Well not the case here in China. I was outsmarted by a man shorter than me who executed a deft Bend & Snap maneuver. If you’ve seen Legally Blonde you’ll know what I mean. He bent past me towards the belt reaching for his luggage (or so I thought) and without picking anything up he snapped back up swinging his hips left and knocking me clean out of the way. And he didn’t even blink. Not a sign of acknowledgment that I had been standing there. I know that Asian queuing is a new concept to us English and Ben and I are getting the hang of that but purlease he barged me out the way!
So Ben switched with me and when his rucksack came off the belt he whacked it into the guy’s leg…accidentally of course :-)
For those of you unfamiliar with Asian queuing, if you can’t smell the shampoo on the person in fronts head then you are not in the queue and someone will very quickly stand in front of you. They will also step around you in a roped queue if you have not filled every available space and if you try to hold onto the rope with one hand you must not let go to scratch your nose else they’re round you before you get your fingers to your face!
Unfortunately whilst I used to be an extremely considerate person and would hold open doors for others and would know who had been waiting in a shop before me it’s wasted here, you snooze, you lose, and this morning Ben said I cut up an old lady waiting to pass through a door way. Like I said, you snooze you lose here.
We’re checked into our Hostel but again it’s more of a hotel and very nice at that for 20 GBP a night. Looking forward to exploring Beijing tomorrow.