Layover in China (inbound)


The best laid plans
We arrived in Kunming at around 1:30AM. By that time, all public transportation had stopped. We had checked online for the taxi rates from the airport to the hotel and with the hotel to see if they had a pick-up service. With taxi rates being about 30RMB, the hotel's pick up service seemed exorbitant at 85RMB.
We had also printed out the name of the Hotel in both English and Chinese, along with a map - again, in Chinese - with directions to the hotel, just in case. We thought we were so well-prepared...
funny sign at airport in Kunming
What?! And in case that makes you want to run for the hills, you're already headed in the right direction!
Getting to the Hotel
So we started lining up with everyone else at the taxi stands and quickly realized that Darwin's theory of "Survival of the Fittest" holds true here. I'm not sure we really survived... You'll need both arms (or at least elbows) free to fight off the people trying to get past you. Lining up isn't a tradition here. As we were waiting for our turn, 'random' people kept coming to us offering to take us wherever we wanted for 120RMB. Let me remind you, that's FOUR times the price mentioned online. Granted, that's only about $20 for 2 people, but it's a 15-minute ride, and it's the principle. 
We waited "in line" for about 15-20minutes and when we were finally at the front of the line, the queue suddenly disintegrated as everybody rushed forward to claim a taxi as their own. The security guards there did nothing to stop them or reestablish any kind of order. So we tried desperately to find an empty cab, but they were all taken. And when we did finally find empty cabs, they couldn't understand what we were saying and brushed off the paper with the Hotel name written on it, laughing at our pitiful attempts to pronounce something correctly in Chinese. At this point, we were the only foreigners left. The other 2 foreigners who had arrived with us had decided to go with a 'private' driver. The only words spoken in English were the prices they were charging: 120RMB. Isn't the point of a taxi to pay the price on the meter and not have to haggle?

We finally got a taxi driver to understand where we wanted to go and to take us there for 100RMB. At this point, we'd been waiting for about 45minutes and were honestly too tired to care. He herded us to his taxi, and to our big surprise, there were already 2 other people in it. The taxi driver wedged our bags into the trunk, which was so full he couldn't even close it, and ushers us to quickly get in. We cram ourselves in and the other 2 Chinese passengers sound just as upset as we are. The mysterious metal grid that encircled the driver's seat suddenly made sense to me. Protection against aggravated passengers perhaps?
I was shocked by what had just happened, although on the plus side, there was no discrimination between the locals and the tourists. We were all treated equally badly, although I don't know how much they paid.
Maybe local preference played a role in determining who he dropped off first. So in the end, what should have been  a 15-minute ride ended up being more like 35-40minutes.

The Hotel
We were so glad to finally put our bags down in our hotel room. Somewhere around 3:30AM. 
First thing in the morning, we asked the hotel staff if there was a shuttle bus service: 25RMB to the airport, 20 minutes. And that's exactly what we did.
We arrived at the airport (which, like the main one in Beijing, was brand now but already had leaks in the roof), checked in and were off. We should've done that on the way in.

Good bye, China. 24 hours was more than enough.

Read about the layover on the way out here!

5km from the airport
Route 2B
25RMB one way
to airport: 5:00-23:00

from airport: 8:00-3:00


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