Stranded in Beijing, China
Out of all my travel horror stories, this has to be in my top 2 and it ain’t number 2! My friends and I were traveling to Thailand. Thailand was a dream vacation of mine. I’ve been wanting to visit Thailand for the past 4 years and finally got the opportunity to go! The trip was booked through the Groupon app. This was one of the few trips that I did not book and organize independently. It is also part of the reason I prefer to do all the booking on my own. We had our flights booked on airChina. This included a 13 hour flight to Beijing with a 3 hour layover, then 5 hours to Bangkok, Thailand. My friends and I made it to JFK very excited for our trip. After we got through T.S.A, we were ready for this adventure to begin. We were supposed to only have 1 hour of waiting at the terminal before boarding. 1 hour turned into 3 hours. Our flight was delayed without any explanation. There were no announcements or information about what was going on or when we should expect to board. Once finally on the plane, the disappointment continued. The food was terrible and there were no vegetarian options. They told us that if we want vegetarian, we would have had to ordered in advance. For those of you who don’t know, I am pescatarian. I don’t eat red meat at all. When I travel, I prefer to stick to eating vegetarian food depending on where I am. I don’t have a strict diet and I am adventurous so I do at least try different things. I basically just lived off of bread and fruit during this long flight. We had finally made it to Beijing and were notified that our connecting flight to Bangkok was gone and we’ll have to wait until the next day for the next flight at 7pm. That was exactly 24hrs from when we got there. Although disappointed, I was excited thinking that we’d at least get to explore Beijing and go see the Great Wall of China! I thought wrong.
The hotel in the middle of no where in China
AirChina put everyone into a hotel for the meantime while we wait. We ended up on a bus that drove us almost an hour away from the airport. They initially told us that only 2 people can go to a room and that 1 of us would have to go in a room with someone else (there were 3 of us together). None of us was willing to do that so we convinced them to let us stay in the same room. The room was so dirty! The sheets had some mysterious stains on them and there was mold all in the bathroom. It was disgusting! I used the plane blanket that I kept and laid on top of it instead of the sheets. Once we got settled in, it was time to go find food for dinner. Everything in the hotel was closed! We did find a little market in there, but it was cash only. I decided to just exchange a little bit of cash so I can buy some noodles. The next day was worse when it comes to food. We were served free breakfast, which was nice. The options were different, but I was willing to give it a try. I didn’t like any of the buns and other random food they had, so I ended up just eating bread and boiled eggs. While we were leaving the breakfast area, people were pointing at us and taking pictures of us. Some people even stopped us to take pictures with them. People in China apparently aren’t used to seeing Black people around. Although I wasn’t offended and we were mostly complimented, it still felt weird like we were circus animals. We tried finding Uber rides and finding places to eat or something to do. We were really in the middle of nowhere and I couldn’t even get service! There was a sign in the lobby that said, “Foreigners cannot leave hotel”. Things were just getting really creepy. To pass the time we played Uno in the lobby lounge area. One of the hotel workers came over to us and said that card playing was not allowed. So there went our entertainment for the wait. We decided to go find some lunch in the meantime. We found a restaurant in the hotel that seemed interesting. AirChina also gave us a discount with them so we decided to check out the menu. The selections on the menu didn’t even look edible. This was our final straw we had to get the heck out of there! We went to the front desk to ask when the next shuttle to the airport was leaving. No one knew english very well and neither of us can speak mandarin. We used our google translate app to communicate. They told us the next shuttle leaves at 12p.m. It was about 11:50. We ran so fast to our rooms to pack up our stuff and get out of there. My friend Marvline ran track in high school and college so she was way ahead not playing any games. We all made it in time! We made it to the airport and had about 5-6 hours to hang out there. We found some food that was good enough to fill our bellies. We were just so happy to not be at that hotel anymore. People were also staring and pointing at us in the airport, but it didn’t even bother us! Once we finally boarded that plane to Thailand, we were ecstatic! Unfortunately, we missed an entire day of our itinerary. We were able to make the most of it though. I do want to go back so that I can experience more of Bangkok.
Ways this could have been avoided
- Book airline ticket separately! When booking trips with agencies and looking for the cheapest options, they will give you the cheapest flight they can find. The cheapest flights tend to have layovers that are too long or are with airlines that offer poor service.
- When looking for a flight don’t automatically choose the cheapest flight. You should pay attention to the layover in the details. Sometimes you can end up having 2 layovers in a flight. While flying to places that are far away it is best to book a flight that is straight through to guarantee that you will reach your destination on time.
- This is probably the most important thing that I can tell you in this subject. ALWAYS READ AIRLINE REVIEWS. Why is this so important? Previous customers experiences can give you an idea of what to expect when you fly with a certain company. Just because someone leaves a bad review doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t book that airline. This just gives you a basis for how business is done with them, things you should expect, and help you decide if they are ideal for what you are looking for.
Thank you for reading about my tips to avoid being stranded in an unwanted situation like I did. I hope you found this helpful and enjoyed my story. Please feel free to contact me either by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media. Leave comments below with any thoughts and questions you may have!