Monday, October 6, 2014

Starkey Mission to China, 2014 - Day 1

The Journey to Kunming

Rosaline and I were picked up at our homes around 9 am this morning and
made it to the Toronto airport without incident where we met up with David (who works in our Burlington office and whom I was meeting for the first time). The flight to Shanghai, while extremely long and uncomfortable (the incessantly whining child behind me and no sleep did not help), was largely uneventful as well.

Our first surprise came as we tried to check in for our connecting flight to Kunming. We
were told that our tickets booked through our travel agent were invalid and that we would
have to buy new ones. Suspecting a scam, I called the travel agent hotline, and they
sort of corroborated the "invalid ticket" story, indicating that they should not have been
booked the way they were. In the end, we had to shell out close to $650 Canadian for
three flights from Shanghai to Kunming. After the long flight from Toronto to Shanghai
(over 14 hours), this was not a welcome hitch in our plans.

One interesting event however was my sighting the doppelganger of my sister-in-law in
baggage claim (who incidently was also on our flight from Toronto).

Finally on the way to Kunming, we had another 4 hours to go and we managed to
sneak in some uncomfortable sleep on the plane. When we arrived in Kunming, we
were surprised to find that we were met by an individual right on the jetway holding a
sign with our names on it. We were shuttled off in a private bus and ushered into a VIP
waiting room where we met Susan from Starkey, China.

We were offered refreshments and they dispatched people to collect our bags for us from baggage claim (which in retrospect was a wonderful gesture but not the best idea as it took another 30-40 minutes to get our bags). Once we had our bags we were put on a bus for the 40-minute ride to the hotel.

By the time we arrived at the hotel we were exhausted. At this point we'd been traveling
for about 27 hours and just wanted to shower and sleep! The hotel was another
unexpected surprise. I think it is safe to say that the Intercontinental Kunming is the
nicest hotel in Kunming, and the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in. The rooms are
gorgeous and comfortable, and I was happy to hear that we'd be there for the next five
nights, and all of the fittings while we were in Kunming would be done on site! After
sending a couple of emails and setting my alarm for approximately 5 hours later (it was
looking like it was going to be a rough first day...) I completely crashed.

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