Day 2 I managed to sleep most of the flight and once I woke up, we were less than an hour from Dubai. I used my complimentary inflight data to check my emails and post something in one of my Facebook groups. I then read for a bit and soon we were starting our decent into Dubai. In the end we were only about an hour late into Dubai. Things worked like clockwork. It did not take long to get off the plane. We quickly used the bathroom and then went through security. There was only a short line and we were through security a few minutes later. At the other side, we checked the screens for our departure gate. I did not like what I saw. Our departure gate was on concourse C, which is the old terminal 1. My very first flight with Emirates was still from terminal 1 and this is nowhere near as nice as terminal 3. It is also a bit of a hike. We had to walk halfway through concourse B, down and escalator and though a tunnel. The tunnel was quite interesting though as they had photos displayed on the wall showing how Dubai changed since the 70s. I had seen something similar before, but it will never cease to amaze me. We went to find a seat near our next gate. I was still trying to find the Arabic coffee pot charm for my Pandora bracelet. Even with the delay, I figured would have more time this time then on the way back. I also wanted to get both of us something to drink. We had walked through quite a large duty free area on the way to the gate, but I was out of luck on both counts. So I headed back over to concourse B. There is a Starbucks near the escalator down to concourse C and I also knew that there is a Pandora store there. In the end I did not have to walk quite as far as the Pandora store which is the opposite end of concourse B as there was a jewellery store close by that had a Pandora counter. Better still, they had the charm I wanted. I paid for my treasure and then I backtracked. I got a white mocha Frappuccino for Graham and a green tea Frappuccino for me and then I went back to join Graham. As I walked past, I noticed that our gate was now open so I collected Graham and our hand luggage and then we went to the gate. We still had some time before boarding so I made use of the free Wi-Fi while I enjoyed my Frappuccino. At the gate, I got an idea that this would be a very different flight. I think we were the only people there that were not Chinese. Once boarding started, this went very swiftly. I think this was the quickest I have ever seen an A380 being boarded and the flight was almost completely full as well. We also were really surprised how quiet the plane was. There was just a really calm atmosphere on this flight. Graham was asleep before we were even up in the air. I browsed the entertainment system to decide what I wanted to watch later and then I read for a while. Soon they started to serve lunch. Graham passed and just had some water and a red wine. I had white wine and mango juice. I had noodle salad as an appetizer, which I did not really like so I gave up on this. The main course did hit the spot. I had grilled chicken with mushroom and pepper sauce, fried potatoes, sautéed spinach and carrots. I was a bit disappointed that they no longer have the snack boxes that used to have various crackers, cheese and sweet chili sauce in them. Instead they now give out just cheese and crackers. For dessert, I had cream cheese mousse with salted caramel and white chocolate, which again was very nice. After I had some coffee and the tray had been cleared away, I also settled down for a nap. I woke up about an hour and a half later and started reading again. Not long afterwards, the purser came to see us. I wondered what this was all about and unfortunately the news was not good. He advised us that my suitcase had not been loaded in Dubai. He handed me a card with a claims reference and also the details of which flight the suitcase would be on. He also gave me a form to fill in for the delivery details. I have to say that although I would have much preferred that all of our luggage had arrived at the same time as us, I was very impressed with how this was handled. It was a lot easier to take care of the formalities while we were a captive audience anyway rather than at the airport. He advised us to come and see him when we were getting off the plane as he would check with the ground handler on arrival at Beijing if we needed to do anything else for customs clearance. I decided to pay for Internet to see if I could get into World Tracer. World Tracer is the tracking software that most airlines use and I am only too familiar with this. I took me a little while to get in, but the description on there did not match my suitcase. I started to wonder if somehow my luggage tag got mixed up with somebody else’s luggage. I spent the rest of the flight alternating between reading, napping and checking emails and Facebook. At some stage they served an afternoon snack which was a turkey roll with mustard mayonnaise and triple chocolate cookies. The sandwich was very nice, but the cookies were a bit hard for my taste. We both had some wine and water. Not long after we had our snack, we started our descent into Beijing. Once we had landed, we realized very quickly that when it comes to getting off the plane, Chinese people seem to be even more impatient than people from other parts of the world. We were not even firmly on the ground yet when people started to get up. We took our time. The purser was waiting for us as we got off and confirmed that there were no further formalities to take care of and that we would be contacted once the suitcase had arrived in Beijing. I told him that I was not entirely sure that it was my suitcase they had in Dubai as the description did not match. My suitcase is a plain gold upright Samsonite hard-shell case. The description matched only as far as it stated that it was a hard-shell case, but it was described as a patterned horizontal American Tourister case. I agree with the purser that I would see the baggage handlers if both of our cases had arrived. When we got off the plane, we both headed for the bathroom. This was the first round of the hunt for the throne. Most public areas in China have some Western toilets although this is not always a given. However, they are often somewhat tucked away and in the bathroom that I used at the airport there was only one Western toilet and the rest of them were the traditional squat toilets. For all my sense of adventure, I was not brave enough to try one of those. Unfortunately the person using the only stall with a Western toilet took her own sweet time. It looks like she used it as a changing cubicle as when she came out, she had an armful of clothes. Eventually it was my turn. I went back to find Graham and then we headed to immigration. I was not quite sure what to expect. As we approached immigration, we had to walk through an area first where they check body temperature with infrared cameras. We must have passed muster as nobody stopped us. Then we got in line for the immigration desks. We did not have long to wait. I was processed by a very friendly and smiley female immigration official. She checked the passport and visa, took a photo and then stamped my passport as well as my departure record. Then I was on my way. Graham was not far behind me. We were positively surprised how smoothly we had cleared immigration and we felt genuinely welcome. It may not have been quite as low-key as in Australia, but this was still one of the best immigration experiences we had. This was no more difficult than clearing the formality in let’s say Paris. Once we were through immigration, we went on a train over to the main terminal where baggage claim was. As soon as we approached the luggage carousel, I saw my suitcase come round. I quickly retrieved it from the luggage belt and checked the baggage tag against the receipt I had been given in Manchester and the baggage tag number on the card I had been given on the plane. It turned out that it was Graham’s case that was missing. This did not really match the description either so we waited a little longer just to make sure it did not turn up. Unfortunately it did not. That was not good. I was wearing my winter coat and hiking shoes on the plane, but Graham was just wearing a hoodie and sandals. We were also supposed to head for the Great Wall of China the following morning where it was likely to be below freezing. Suddenly I saw one of the things that I had looked forward the most slip away. Once we gave up waiting for Graham’s case, we went through customs. They asked me to put my case through an x-ray machine and then we headed to the exit to look for our driver. We did not have to look for very long. Shortly after we stepped out, we saw Mr Gao holding a sign with my name. We went across to him. He did not speak any English and we do not speak any Mandarin, but somehow he communicated to us that he needed the bathroom before we left. We were soon reunited and headed towards the parking structure. We soon realized that we were not in England anymore. It is amazing how many Chinese people fit in an elevator as the concept of personal space is definitely overrated in China. Mr Gao made a beeline for the already very full elevator, but when we realized that we were a little reluctant to follow him, he stepped back and we waited for the next one. I don’t think even with our reduced luggage, we would have fit in the first elevator. We were soon on our way and he directed us to the car. He quickly checked with us what hotel we were going to. I did not understand what he was saying, but I recognized the name of the hotel so nodded and repeated the name of the hotel. I have to admit that I was very concerned about the language barrier particularly in China, but I really did not needed to have worried. Things just kind of fell into place. I learned very quickly that there is a lot more to effective communication than just words. We got our first impression of China. The first rule in Beijing seems to be that traffic rules are merely there for guidance. This is very much survival of the fittest, fastest, strongest and probably the most stubborn. Lane discipline is nonexistent and everybody has a horn that they use frequently. To a lesser extent, I have seen this in Dubai, but in Beijing, they take this to the next level. The parking structure resembled a pool table with cars scattering in every direction and blocking each other in. This did not get any better when we got outside to the area leading to the ticket booth either. Mr Gao at one stage had an animated conversation with the driver in the car next to ours and then he decided to cut across all the lanes to get to a ticket booth with less cars. As chaotic as traffic in Beijing is, I never felt unsafe. Once he had paid for the parking, we were on our way and had a smooth run to the hotel. We said goodbye to Mr Gao and then went inside to check it. They were renovating the lobby so this was a little chaotic. Still, the check in process did not take long. They took photocopies of our passports. In China, hotels have to register all guests with the local police station within 24 hours of arrival. Then we were given our key and were on our way to the room. Graham got ready for bed straightaway. I spent a little time trying to see if the tour could be rescheduled. I found the phone number of the local tour operator. By then it was about 1:00 AM, but I hoped as they are quite a large company that they may have a 24 hour number especially as no opening hours are listed on their website. Unfortunately the phone did not connect. I then decided to send an email to the company in the UK that we have purchased the tour through. They are a subsidiary of Attraction Tickets Direct and I have to say, I was very impressed with them, but this did not unfold until later that night. At this moment in time we had two issues. Not only was Graham not equipped for the tour until his suitcase arrived in Beijing, but we also had no idea when we would be picked up the next morning. We had been advised that the tour guide would advise the pick-up time the evening before by 21:30, but there was no message for us at reception or on our phone. So we were not even sure if and when somebody would show up. There was nothing I could do at this point so I got ready for bed, too.