I've purchased all my tickets so far using Southwest Airline rapid rewards points. For the Seoul to Sydney leg, a China Souther Airlines ticket was tens of thousands of points less than the rest; so I jumped on it without really looking at the connection times... Only later did I notice I had signed up for a 15 hour overnight layover in Guangzhou China. I wasn't really looking forward to that since I was sure I couldn't leave the airport without getting a Visa. Even with the layover the price was good enough I couldn't really complain.
So after a short last night in Daegu I headed off for an airport adventure. Normally I have no trouble sleeping on airplanes and I probably should have tried to sleep some, but I was busy and didn't feel tired yet. By the time we landed in Guangzhou I was starting to think a nap in a quiet corner of the international terminal would suit me just fine.
The customs agent took one look at my departure ticket and told me 15 hours was too long to stay in the airport and they would provide a hotel and a special transit Visa for free. Bureaucracy is bureaucracy no matter the country so it took well over an hour, some patience, and my own dedicated assistent to get my 15 hour Visa approved and the hotel booked. Now I had a new dilemma though. I was plenty tired enough to just sleep all evening, but I also had a free evening China. I checked with my security assistent to make sure I could actually leave the hotel and was told I could do whatever I wanted as long as I was on the plane out the next morning. Then she put me on a bus for the hotel.
As we headed farther and farther from the airport past the China Southern hotel and into less manicured areas I had a few moments concern that this might all be some kind of elaborate prank on the dumb American. After all I'd never even heard of an airline or airport providing free hotels for people with planned layovers before. But we eventually got to the hotel and it looked a really nice. I checked in, they gave me a key and I headed for my room. I arrived on my floor to discover it under construction. Then I found my room to discover the door open and construction material on the floor. The beds were made and looked nicer than an airport floor so I wasn't going to complain. I tried my key in the door. It didn't work. I went back to the fornt desk. The clerk said "Oh, sorry, I'll get you a new room", grabed a key card from the pile at random, and hands its to me...
|Not quite the airport floor I was expecting.|
|Not exactly washing in the bathroom sink here either.|
|Much more interesting than the bed.|
|I need to get back in practice on self portraits. This the best picture I took of me in China...|
|I think I'll have Chinese tonight.|
|Not the food I was expecting.|
The owner wandered off to do something and I realized the only other people in the bar were speaking English. I invited myself to their table and they welcomed me over. So, an Aussie, a Kiwi, and an American were sitting in a Chinese bar... I'd normally expect that to be followed with a joke, but all that followed was talking and drinking. They drank beer and I drank water. A few hours passed, the owner closed down the bar and joined us. He started giving them free beer and I kept drinking water. I think I had five bottles. Sometime after midnight they started adding vodka to the beer... We kept talking. At 1:30, I went to bed. Don't ever get into a drinking contest with an Australian... (I did have a 5 am wake up call to get back to the airport and theirs were not until around noon.)
I probably would have gotten more sleep on the floor of the airport. But I managed to get up for my flight and made it to Sydney without a problem. It certainly wasn't the evening I was expecting. However, I was right, I don't have any regrets about not getting enough sleep the night I was in China. I'll probably never remember the nights I got plenty of sleep.