Wow! So when I said that I was looking for adventure, high stress airport drama isn't entirely what I had in mind!
My flight from Sydney airport was very easy, it left on time and I was sitting next to a handsome young Italian guy named Matteo who spoke excellent english with a very pleasant accent. We got on pretty well and had a very nice time chatting about travelling, it made the first 12 or so hours go past remarkably quickly! He was getting off at Shanghai and so after helping me work out where I needed to go for my connecting flight I left him there and made way to Beijing.
This is really where the problems began... my flight to Beijing was delayed because of bad weather. We didn't have an estimated time of departure and I kept adding up how much time it was going to leave me with to get my next flight to Khabarovsk. We finally left at about 11.35 and I thought that would leave me with about 20 minutes to get my connecting flight. Needless to say I was panicking. When we finally arrived in Beijing at 2am we had to catch a bus from the plane to the terminals and by the time I made it up to the check-in desks my flight had already left.
All I wanted to do was cry at that point and so I found the nearest bathrooms and went into a cubicle and just burst into tears. The airport was practically deserted so I probably could have had my minor breakdown in the main section, but no! I tried to make a phone call to Dad and it wasn't going through so I was starting to panic even more but eventually I got through and woke him up about 4am Canberra time to tell him what was happening, I just needed to talk it through a little I guess (thanks Dad!)
After I composed myself I went back to the Siberia Airlines desk to see what they could do but they said because it was Air China who the delay was with it was them that I would need to get to fix the problem. They didn't get in till 0530 and it was about 0230 at this point. So, I sat on the floor at Beijing airport and waited.
To cut a very, very long and boring story short I waited for hours and hours, started going a little stir crazy and was sent all around the airport to look for baggage and be helped by different people who spoke broken english and eventually was set up at a hotel until I could get the next flight straight to Vladivostok without the connection through Kharbarovsk at 0200 the next day.
Thankfully there were no major dramas with getting the next flight, just waiting in lots more lines and I arrived in Vladivostok at 0900 July 4 - just shy of 24 hours late. I was able to contact the tour people regarding the delay and they rearranged my airport transfer so there was someone there to pick me up.
After a long drive from the airport I finally made it to the hotel and found Kairsten! I only had an hour before we had to check out again so I had a super quick shower and we had a big catch up about what we'd gone through. It was so nice to have someone to talk to about it! It was pouring with rain in Vladivostok so we attempted to walk around but were getting quite soaked so we ended up going back to the hotel and hanging out in the foyer to dry off. I ended up passing out on the couches and slept for a good 2 and a half hours all up. A driver picked us up from the foyer and took us to the train station at about 2100 where we met a nice French girl, Anais, who was also catching the train to Irkutsk and waited.
We're in Irkutsk at the moment but I won't write about the train trip just now, it's probably a bit much for you to read already! I will however let you know that the train trip includes handsome stranger number 2 so stay tuned - it'll be a good one!
From Russia with love,