After waiting more than 14 months and dodging some scares about the conduct of our tour, we are finally in China! Our flight arrived in Shanghai around 30 minutes early, which gave us hope of getting to the hotel at a reasonable time - unfortunately, no such luck on that score!
After failing at the immigration fingerprint machine - it doesn’t like missing digits! - Ray had to receive some personal attention from the Border Security Officer. He was a bit nonplussed, too, but at least he could apply a bit of flexibility - AI biometrics is not yet up to human standards! After that little delay, we collected our bags, cleared customs and headed out to meet our guide.
As we walked out to the arrivals hall, we scanned the dozens of name boards being held up by various drivers, guides and greeters - our name was nowhere to be seen... So we retraced our steps and tried again; then we wandered further afield but had no more luck. We made an enquiry at the Airport Information desk, but that only resulted in a shrug and a comment to the effect of ‘you’re in a bit of trouble, then!’. By now, we were beginning to get a bit anxious and wondering if Sinorama’s troubles had caught up with us after all.
We then approached a Trip-a-Deal rep to see if he had seen a Sinorama guide - ‘oh,’ he informed us, ‘that will be the guy with the red flag’! Problem solved in an instant - we should have looked for the flag and not a name board. Suddenly, all was right with the world again!
Our guide introduced himself as Charlie and to a couple of our fellow passengers, who had also been on our flight - Barry and Marlene* from Adelaide. Charlie then informed us that we would be waiting for eight more pax from other flights before we could head to the hotel - by coach, not individual cars. After the scares of recent days, this barely registered on the inconvenience scale!
A couple of hours later, we had everyone together and set off for the hotel, which was a 75 minute drive from the airport. This gave us a chance to appreciate the scale of this city, which has a population only marginally less that that of our entire continent!
Our hotel is the Courtyard by Marriott and we are very impressed. It is easily four star and probably five. The lobby is grand and our room is large and very well-appointed. We are looking forward to exploring it a little more tomorrow, but tonight - sleep! It has been a very long day and tomorrow promises to be busy and interesting.
*Not their real names!