7:00: wrench self out of bed; shed a tear for heated mattress pad
8:00: pull out of motel parking lot with husband in passenger seat (lock up your children!!)
8:00 – 10:30: drive to Queenstown. Ooooo and Ahhhh over landscape. Consciously bid adieu to wide open spaces and fresh mountain air. Redeem self by driving just to the edge of Queenstown without being pulled over or totally terrifying husband (pat self on back for giving him a book about Beijing to distract him).
10:30 – 12:30: wander around Queenstown, taking in skitown vibe, admiring various adventure sports on offer. Eat delicious lunch.
12:30 – 13:00: return rental car. Discover check-in doesn’t open until around 2pm. Note there is just about nothing in Queenstown airport.
14:00 – 15:00: check-in for 3:30pm flight. Continue sitting around airport. Go through “security” and wonder why no one has asked you for ID. Discover there is nothing but chairs past security.
15:30 – 18:00: fly to Auckland. Land in international terminal due to equipment’s international flight later that evening, then get bused back to the domestic terminal. Collect luggage and walk 15 minutes back to international terminal. Determine check-in not yet open for 10:00pm flight.
18:00 – 18:45: eat dinner in airport bar. Say hello to husband’s boss and fiancé who happen to also be waiting for a (different) flight to China.
18:45 – 19:15: check-in. No seriously. It takes forever because their systems are down and the poor check-in desk people are having PROBLEMS. Be grateful you showed up really early as you watch the line grow.
19:15 – 21:00: wait around. Go through security. Spend last currency on candy. Decide to use credit card to check email while husband goes to gate. Bid final adieu/good riddance to Facebook
21:10: visit ladies room one last time before boarding. Miss the man getting escorted to the plane by two police officers.
21:20 – 23:30(ish): board plane, depart, yippee. Be irrationally stressed out by turbulence and the people walking all about, ignoring the seatbelt sign which is clearly still on. Eat meal and watch stupid movie with husband, downing two glasses of wine to calm the frigging flip down about turbulence and the apparent irrelevance of the seatbelt sign.
23:30 - ???: Try to catch some zzzzzs. Wake up every time plane enters a turbulent zone. Kick husband’s feet to get him to move them out of YOUR FOOT AREA GODDAMNIT CUDDLING TIME IS NOT ON THE PLANE.
Almost 4 hours into flight: turn on automap, note that we’ve been flying almost four hours and figure you must have slept. Try to get more comfortable. Hah! Hah! Turn on a Harry Potter movie to distract you from turbulence and get lulled back to sleep.
Over 6 hours into flight: turn on automap, note that we’ve been flying over six hours and figure you must have slept. Curse seat. Take vow to Never Travel Ever Again unless you win the lottery and can have a seat-bed. Kick husband.
10+hours into flight: kick husband some more. Be excited that the automap now tells you there are less than 3 hours left. Turn on another Harry Potter movie. Doze. Look at sunrise over Philippines.
11+ hours into flight: lights come up. Have weird breakfast. Continue watching Harry Potter. Pat husband’s arm and hope he slept through the kicking.
12 hours into flight: watch informative video about Guangzhou. Third-largest city in China! Wonder if check-in desk lady knew what she was talking about re: it’s a small airport, you’ll be fine with your connection.
7:00 am, local time (11 am NZ time): land in Guangzhou. Marvel at what seems to be a really early landing, since you think you’re supposed to land at 8:00 and leave on your connecting flight to Beijing at 10:00. Meet China Southern employee with a Beijing sign at the gate.
7:10 – 7:20: follow lady through airport, with husband and one other Chinese passenger. After using washroom, the other helpful Chinese passenger asks if we have ‘Chinese money’ yet, because if we do, we can take the bus to our next plane and maybe make it.
Look at boarding pass printed in Auckland (for the first time, for some reason). See boarding time of 7:20 am, for an 8:00 am flight.
7:20 – 7:40: RUN THROUGH ENORMOUS AIRPORT. GO THROUGH EXPRESS SECURITY LINE. DO NOT PASS GO. TAKE TWO SEPARATE CARTS THROUGH CHAOTIC CROWDS. RELY ON NICE CHINESE PASSENGER TO PAY FOR YOU AND HUSBAND TO GO ON ONE. FEEL LIKE AN ASSHOLE. DO NOT COLLECT $100 OR 100 YUAN. JUST KEEP RUNNING YOU FAT STUPID TOURISTS!!!
7:45: Get to the gate at last call, and board plane. Hope bags make it with you.
8:10: leave Guangzhou. Confirm that itinerary said 8:00am flight all along, and wonder how the hell both you and husband could have it so wrong but be grateful, since it would have just been one more thing to worry about when you were busy worrying about turbulence.
10:40ish – 11:00: land in Beijing, collect bags, find taxi. Thank lucky stars hotel happens to be in travel book with some kind of version of a Chinese name and address to give to taxi driver. Stare at yellow-ish, thick air and wonder if it’s all smog or a mix of fog + smog. Miss New Zealand just a bit.
12:00(ish): arrive in hotel. Be thankful for awesome internet deal and super clean, stylin’, close to tourist things hotel. Feel as though your brain is sitting about three feet away from body and your voice coming from somewhere over there, too. Shower and try to nap, but give up and go for a walk instead.