Tuesday December 2nd/3rd
Before the trip to China came up I had been planning to write a CGA exam in the fall. I didn't want to miss out on China so I contacted CGA for options and they said they have offices in China! I arranged to write December 3rd in Beijing. The flight from Xi'an is pretty quick and cheap ($150 including all fees!).
To help with preparation the local construction company decided to run their operations eighteen hours per day. December 2nd I wake up after yet another not-so-restful night, shower and eat a 2 minute breakfast, say goodbye to Rod and grab a taxi. The taxi driver seemingly agrees to take me to Xian airport.
Now you need to know that the week prior to departing I had one of Rod's coworkers write a number of things in Chinese characters in my handy yellow book, including Xi'an and Beijing airport, hotel address, and subway directions. As I am sitting in the back seat of the taxi studying, the taxi driver starts asking me some questions, none of which I understand. Although it is quite apparent I cannot understand a word for some reason this isn't a deterrant to asking more. The cabbie then decides to detour, go down some side street in a ghetto god knows where and starts sighing and moaning. I am getting a little nervous at this point, so I decide to call Rod's co-worker who insisted I could call her for anything. Naturally her phone is off. I then call Rod, he doesn't answer. Ok he's in the shower; I then call a few minutes later and he answers. I explain the situation and he assures me he will start calling co-workers and will have someone to talk to this taxi driver shortly.
I only have one other phone number so I give it a shot. I call my friend Christina the one who made us dumplings. She picks up! Her English is limited, but sufficient for the task at hand. She speaks to the taxi driver and then tells me that he needs to know which terminal. I figure this out after a few minutes and success! I then pay my bill plus the additional ten Yuan for crossing a check point of some sort. This is a new one and I am a little surprised at it, but whatever works.
During the taxi trip two of Rods coworkers call me to make sure I am ok and help out, plus my friend Christina called me again. It isn't useful at this point but it does make me feel like I have some sort of a support network going. I find the ticket counter, make it through customs, wait an extra hour or so at the airport for some reason (possibly weather), and then fly to Beijing, get a taxi and make it to the hotel.
Upon check in I am surprised to hear that they want a deposit of 400 Yuan. OK, not a lot of money but I do feel like they are taking a little bit of advantage of me. It seems rather odd this wasn't something we knew up front! I call Rod, he talks to Chris, she gets them to lower it to 300 yuan. According to Chris this is normal. Rod and I figure we've rented in Beijing more than she has and this is not in fact normal. Our experience has been that giving a credit card is sufficient, just like in North America. Anyway, I finally get to my room. It is quite nice. Next is to go out alone and buy lunch. I find a nearby western Chinese restaurant and eat really good sphagetti.
After that it's study, study, study. As bedtime comes there is the sound of drilling from a nearby room! Luckily this is stopped shortly thereafter. I get the best nights sleep in weeks! It's actually quiet!!
On December 3rd I wake up rather later than planned. For some reason the alarm didn't go off! Oh well, I needed the sleep. A bit more study and then it's time to go write the exam. A local instructor meets me at the designated meeting spot and drives me over to the exam hall. I write the exam and it seems like I'm doing OK (phew!). Unfortunately CGA is not exactly fast about giving you the result: we will find out the final result in 2 months!
After the exam, I go to restaurant across the street and eat chicken curry, drink beer, relax a little, and then take the airport express subway to terminal 2 (which you need to figure out is also terminal 1). The express is both faster and cheaper than a taxi. It costs 25yuan, and takes about 25 minutes. I give Rod a call to reassure him I have not as yet been captured by banditos and am ok, currently waiting on plane to fly back to Xi'an. I get home without further incident.
My first time travelling alone, and in a country where they don't speak English! Pavan's big trip!! :)