It started as a relaxing day. With a lunch together and going to the airport. Everything fine so far. The plane left at 18 o’clock. But after two thirds of the way, we got the message that Beijing is closed because of bad weather and we go back to Xian. Great.. I planned a buffer of 5 hours to be sure to get the plane to Europe. Back in Xian, I went to the counter and asked what to do. They changed my flight to one at 23 o’clock. However, no way that I would get my flight at 1 o’clock. I changed my Air France flight to 9 o’clock, which worked via roaming on the phone after about 15 tries and cost 150 euro. Of course the cabin crew strike in France was happening as well, which made it impossible to change anything by phone in time. At least I got online support from Meng. Next going through security for the plane to Beijing again. This plane was delayed as well. So I waited until half past 12 with no info in English. Finally boarding again and arrivel at 2:30. Then picking up luggage and finding out what happens next. The system in Beijing was pretty annoying. I had to wait in the entrance hall until 6 o’clock because the international terminal won’t open until then. These were long three hours.. A coffee and two Red Bulls later, I got support from Meng who happened to be awake. So we were chatting until the terminal finally opened. That helped a lot to pass the time (great thanks for this!). Check in and passport controll were done quickly. Now it was less than two hours until boarding. The sun was shining again, awake for 22 hours. Then finally boarding the Boeing 777 and a seat I won’t have to leave for 11 hours. I still didn’t know why I got a free premium economy seat but it was relaxing in the almost empty premium compartment. The seats were not very comfortable though. The one I had in the 747 on the other direction was less fancy but much more comfortable. Air France had the most French safety instructions, good food and friendly personal. I didn’t sleep so much on the flight but better than nothing, watched three movies. The connection to Düsseldorf was on time despite the strike. But the transfer was chaotic as always at the Paris airport. I needed to pass two security checks, take a train, a bus and walk through a number of buildings until finally reaching the correct terminal. Then the last short flight to Düsseldorf. There I got picked up by my parents and the trip was finally over.
From Xian to Düsseldorf in 32 hours with maybe 3 or 4 hours of bad sleep. It was pretty tough but could have been worse.
So, after more than three weeks, I made it back to Germany and the China tour came to an end. It was an impressive and almost entirely positive experience. It’s good to have some time now to digest all the new impressions before going back to work.