Upon arriving at London City Airport, I realised it was dwarfed by it’s counterpart, Heathrow Airport. However, this was a great advantage as navigating the airport proved much easier than the previous year.
The first plane ride, from London to Geneva was rather comfortable yet short. In contrast, the continuous thundering of the the engines of the 10 hour flight from Geneva to Beijing prevented any sort of lengthy sleep.
Instantly after exiting the safety of the cool, breezy airport, we found ourselves drenched in sweat and standing in awe at the sweltering heat. Due to asking for help from information desks and getting help from the occasional English speaking Chinese passer by, we found our way to the correct station for the speed train with little fuss or trouble. Once explained briefly, we deemed the Beijing tube to be very modern, fast and easy to use.
Nevertheless, our near-perfect travels came to a halt when we found out that the passport number on my pre-booked train ticket was in fact incorrect. After attempting to communicate with the Chinese ticket officers we decided that our best bet was explaining the situation to the person that checks your ticket as you go in the train waiting room. Ten painful and anxious minutes later we were about to abandon our futile quest of getting a message across when suddenly English words surged out of the queue of people waiting for their tickets to be checked.
Our saviour of the day pushed through the irritated crowd and asked us what the problem was. Fast track almost one hour of discussing and explaining, and we found our way into a waiting room. Since we were on the same train and same carriage as our helper (for the bullet train you pre-book your seat), our helper explained the situation to the train employees on our departure, we exchanged our gratitude for all the help given.
With an average speed of 300km/h, it only took us three hours to reach Zhengzhou. There we were met with the same teacher I had had the previous year when I had gone to China. He took us to the car that would take us to the Kung Fu school. On the way we stopped to get some food and I ate my first proper Chinese meal. To start things off I ordered a typical and common noodle soup. When driving through cities in China trying to take in the size is enough to give you a migraine – well that and the heat. Colossal grey, dull buildings force you to blink several times to verify what your seeing.
There are many positives associated to China but driving is certainly not one of them – cars dodge in and out of each other, honking their horns in frustration. Another aspect of China which is very noticeable is the rapidity at which new constructions are built. As a result of the long day of traveling, I slept for a large majority of the car journey. Once in DengFeng I woke up and despite having been here just less than 365 days ago, I could hardly recognise the place. New, sleek and dark grey buildings surrounded the school like an impregnable fortress.