I left home in Tampere on Sunday noon, my plan was to arrive in the university on early Monday evening. Ha! This is what we in Finland would call “a Chinese tale”.
My planned itinerary was Helsinki-Beijing, then after 2 hours layover, to Fukuoka, and from there a 2 hours bus ride to APU. Everything started out fine; even though my special meal request had not gone through to Air China for some reason, the co-operating Finnair flight attendant was kind enough to get me some fruit, bread and nuts from the first class. We arrived in Beijing on time, and I went through few customs and immigrations checks before finding out that the flight to Fukuoka had been delayed due to a typhoon. I was bounced back and forth in Beijing airport, since the staff had different opinions about whether I needed to check my bag or not, and God knows what else. The flight was from domestic terminal, though Fukuoka is in Japan, which was kind of odd to me.
Takeoff to Fukuoka was finally at 12:30, almost 4 hours late of schedule. After few hours in the air, I was surprised to be landing in a Chinese city called Dalian. Apparently it was a pit stop on the way, no one just had mentioned about it. We were sitting on the plane for few hours, not going anywhere, not knowing what was going on. No one bothered to explain anything, either. Eventually, we were told that all flights were cancelled due to the typhoon – we were then taken to a hotel in the city, where they gave us rooms for a few hours. After a Chinese dinner, we had to go back to the airport, to be flown to – drumroll – Beijing! Few people were rather upset, myself included, since to me going back to Beijing was taking a step backwards. We had no idea how and when to get to Fukuoka, since in the Air China staff in Dalian was just rather reluctant to answer, or understand, any questions that were asked.
We arrived back in Beijing around 9pm, after which it was a race to the service counter to sort out the flights. No way of getting straight to Fukuoka the following day, the best option seemed to be through Tokyo. The plane was scheduled to leave 8:30 am, which would allow 2 hours layover before the flight to Fukuoka. Had this plan worked (sorry for the spoiler, of course there had to be additional twists!), I would have only missed the mandatory orientation, but made it to the complimentary dinner party in Tuesday evening. Around 1 am, when everyone from the flight had sorted out their itineraries, everyone non-Japanese was transported to a hotel to enjoy a nice 4 hours before coming back to the airport in the morning. (The Japanese people had to stay at the airport, racist!)
In the morning, we found out that the flight to Tokyo was delayed, giving us barely an hour window to get to the Fukuoka flight. Ha! Of course, our flight was late, and we landed approximately at the same time the Fukuoka flight took off. Thank God at this point we were already in Japan, which was clearly visible: everyone going to Fukuoka was greeted and assisted to the right direction when getting off the plane, we (me and few other students) were taken to the immigration office to get our alien cards, and we were smoothly re-scheduled to the next possible flight, which a) was ANA in stead of Air China, and b) was the biggest and neatest plane of all the ones I sat on.
In Fukuoka, I was happy and tired to finally be at the home stretch of the trip. There was someone waiting for me and another girl going to study in the same school, so getting on the right bus after an hours’ wait was fairly easy. I was very lucky to have Kristina with me on the same flight, with the same direction, since I would probably have lost my marbles if I had been in this situation by myself. There was also other people helping us, which made everything more endurable.
In stead of arriving to APU on Monday evening, it was late Tuesday night (no dinner no more), before I finally got to open the door to my very own home for the next five months. (Pictures of that later on!)