A $1,200 Cup Of Hot Chocolate

November 12th, 2009 by Rich Christiansen
I have spent the last 3 days in Beijing, China and arrived in Japan this evening.  I have concluded that:  Free market system blended with Communism = Chaos!

As I write this post,  I have:
  • No fresh underwear
  • No toothbrush
  • No comb
  • No medicines
  • No dress clothes
  • No shoes
  • No sales material
  • No gifts for our clients
  • Nada … Nothing
All 6 of our bags are somewhere between Beijing, China and Paris, France.  This has been a perfect ending to a perfectly insane day.  Could I share with you how my day went?
Today our flight was scheduled for 11:15 am.  When we woke up at 6:00 am it had snowed and Beijing was a complete mess.  The night before I had 2 custom suits tailored that were to be delivered to the hotel by 6:00 am – Nothing at 6:00, nothing at 7:00, nothing at 8:00.  Our scheduled bus was supposed to arrive at 8:00.  We packed all our cool knock-off stuff in the extra knock-off luggage we purchased at the Silk Market and there we sat in the lobby of the hotel.   No transportation and no suits.
Finally at 8:30 am the mini van arrived.  Now the key decision:  do we leave our new custom tailored suits behind and get to the airport or risk missing the flight and wait?  Being a bit of a gambler,  I gave it another 10 minutes and the bet paid off.  In rushed the tailor holding our suits.  We stuffed them in one of our suitcases and off we raced.
First dodge of a bullet.
If the roads held up, no problem, we would still make it.  But when we got to the highway, the freeway was at a stand still.  The driver turned off the highway and started taking back roads. Still crazy slow, but at least we were moving.   When he got to the  turn on point back to the airport express way,  the police had shut down the exit.  There we sat for 30 minutes with the freeway running fine right above us.   We were now one hour before our plane departure time.  We knew we would miss the flight.
Just when we gave up the police with no warning let us through and off we went.   The driver spoke no english at all,  so we called the hotel and they translated with the driver how long it would take him to get to the airport.  He said 40 minutes…  This was past the time of our flight departure.
Despair.  We then caught a break – the drive took 20 minutes, so 20 minutes left to flight leaving.  We rush in and get in line and the supervisor states, “Because of weather the planes are delayed by 6 hours.”   OK, we can live with it.  We fight and push through the extra fees they are attempting to charge us and make our way through immigration and customs.  My partner Curtis Blair wants to go to the gate, but I say, lets stop for a hot chocolate – we have 6 hours right?  We stop to buy a hot chocolate.   When we get to the gate,  they get angry with us and say we missed the plane.  The plane just pushed back and we watch our plane  going out to fly.  They say they changed the delay and even though they told us 6 hour delay, our fault for not being at the gate.
We then had a complete mess of reversing our direction and undoing customs and immigration.   The long and short of it, we ended up paying $1,300 more for a flight on China Air to Tokyo.  Upon landing we discovered the joyful news that ALL of our luggage was on its way to Paris!
And how was your day?

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