Chinese New Year, the biggest holiday season in China. The cities are empty, millions travel to their hometowns, schools are shut down for over a month and a half, pollution is no longer the threat to you as it once was… What normal people and societies call “spring break,” was a good time to get out of China while everyone else did. It was time to give my lungs a break and be thankful for this massive holiday. Thank you, Chinese New Year! Now, first stop: Belgium.
My first flight was absolutely miserable. Unfortunately, when traveling on a budget you may have to sacrifice a couple layovers here-and-there. TRAVELING 101. So to make it home I had to do the following: Chengdu – Beijing – Prague – Belgium. I had about 1 hour 40 minutes to make each transfer. I will say it did go pretty smooth for the most part; being able to stretch your legs between each one was nice, and being able to grab a bag of M&M’s was a perk too.
Chengdu – Beijing
But of course, China will be China, and nothing went as planned from the beginning. My first flight from Chengdu was delayed an hour due to the smog. At this point, I already knew my luggage was gone… since I had to pick it up in Beijing, which is the biggest waste of time. You have to go out of security, grab your bags, and then go back through. Doing all of that on top of a delay was not going to happen. It was time to accept my fate. My luggage was for sure lost.
I was lucky enough to meet another Belgian family sitting behind me who had the same itinerary, and unfortunate fate as me. I was glad I met them, so I didn’t have to suffer alone. Once we landed in Beijing the nightmare became a reality. There was an airport employee from Hainan airlines waiting for us once we got off the plane. He instantly told us we would have to leave our luggage behind if we wanted to catch the next flight. He promised it would be at our homes within two days… bye, bye luggage.
If there is anything I’ve learned from the Chinese culture, it’s that you shouldn’t believe everything they promise. My luggage finally arrived 5 days later.
But hey, I’m not complaining, at least we got to catch the next flight. On the way, a little airport shuttle was flying through the airstrip/runway trying to get these 5 foreigners to their next flight. Pretty interesting way to get off the plane, the Hainan airline guy literally held our hand while running to our check-in. We had to write down all our contact information, sprint to the closing gate that they were holding open for us. In the end, I’m glad we made it on time. I was on my way. Fuck the smog that caused this drama.
Beijing – Prague
The flight from Beijing to Prague took about 10 hours. I have to say, the food was better than the typically dreaded economy airplane food. Royal Air Maroc and Hainan airlines are my two favorite airlines when it comes to food. Yes, I’m really talking about the food, not the service! Usually, I prefer traveling with KLM but the Chines New Year does have disadvantages. Traveling in this period is much more expensive. So, this crappy itinerary was my plan B.
After one more transfer in Prague (which went smoothly) I finally got to Belgium where my dad met me at the airport.
This was the start to a short but awesome visit in Belgium!