Amsterdam Travel Blog› entry 1 of 24 › view all entries
At long last it's take off day again. After weeks of counting the days and preparing, we get to leave today for a fascinating trip to Tibet and Nepal. In order to get the necessary permints to get into Tibet, we first have to fly to Chengdu, so there are still two days in mainland China on the program.
This time I don't have to travel on my own. My best friend Ils is coming along. We leave from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport and plan to go by train. As there are often problems on the Dutch railway net, we plan to leave well in advance. And thank goodness we did! Because of a severe storm the night before several lines are not operating and those that do have delays. Luckily the Benelux Express is running but already upon departure in Mechelen there are 10 minutes of delay on the board.
The short track between Mechelen and Antwerp I go on my own. Then in Antwerp Ils gets on board and the adventure can really begin. Along the way to Schiphol we make even more delay. Even though we took this possibility into account, it still makes me a little nervous. It wouldn't be the first time that Dutch railways left me stranded...
It strikes us that the train is full of orange clad people. The Netherlands are playing the final of the World Cup tonight against Spain and apparently plenty of fans are heading for Amsterdam to go and see the game on big screens. We'll be up in the air by the time the game will be played and are curious how that will affect the atmosphere on board.
Fortunately the train recovers much of the delay further on route and we reach Schiphol airport pretty much according to schedule.
We didn't spot any fellow travellers yet so we decide to hang around a little longer and grab something to eat at one of the many cafes. An hour later there is still no-one to be seen and we head for the Fox travel counter. The lady ticks our names off the list and then we are welcome to go through passport control. We'll meet our fellow travellers in Chengdu, no need for them to wait for them here.
With still about 3 hours to kill we head for Starbucks for a last frappucino and muffin.
When power is restored again, we decide to get a bottle of water to take on board but this turns out to be a mission impossible. None of the little shops we try is willing to seal the bottle into a plastic bag. This puzzles me as last October this was still perfetly possible at Schiphol. I see however vending machines at the gates (after carry-on luggage check) so we can probably still get water from there. But when we finally get to the machine, there is only coca cola inside. Bummer! I do not understand how it is impossible to get to any water at all between hand luggage check and take off.
Luckily our flight leaves on schedule and then finally drinks are served. I browse through KLM's personal entertainment system and decide upon Slumdog Millionaire as I still haven't seen this much talked about film. It turns out to be a good choice. I truly love the film!
For some odd reason I cannot stand airplane food. Already the mere smell of it makes me sick. So I always make sure to eat well before take off and carry plenty of snacks for the actual flight. I skip the hot meal but ask hot water for my instant soup. To my surprise the friendly flight attendant offers to take the package of instant soup and prepare it in a bigger cup. Few minutes later she returns with a mug of damping soup and a fresh roll. Now that's what I call service!
After the movie, the cabin lights dim and the crew prepares for the night. Time to take my sleeping pill. I cannot say I had a good sleep, but at least I manage to doze off for a few hours. I vaguely remember something of the pilots announcing that Holland lost the final... but I quickly doze off again. I'm still drowsy when breakfast is served again and according to my habit I let it pass by.
When the plane makes its final decent into Chengdu, the view from the window is dull and very grey. China in the perpetual Summer drizzle! Let's hope the sky will still clear up a little on my brief visit here.