Published: April 5th 2012April 5th 2012
We left this morning from Beijing after being heavilly scrutinized and having our tibet travel permit checked three times. Once on the plane it seemed like nothing could stand in our way.
We changed planes in Chengdu, some unknown huge city somewhere in western China whose only claim to fame is being a hub for transfers to Tibet, and a panda reproductive center where you can hold a baby panda for like $50.
Our flight from Chengdu was supposed to take three hours to Lhasa. I anxiously watched the TV on the plane show us inch closer to Lhasa, and I began to see the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas. I felt our plane begin its inital descent, and then a fair amount of turbulence for awhile. I noticed the computer animated airplane turn around a few minutes later, and begin heading east again. I thought this was a little odd, but brushed it off as a computer glitch.
I then saw that our estimated arrival time changed from 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes. I continued to watch the airplane head towards Chengdu. I woke Dennis up and asked him what he thought was going on. We laughed that maybe a civil war broke out in Tibet and they were turning our plane around, never thinking for one moment that our plane was in fact turned around and heading back to Chengdu.
We landed and I saw the green grass and flat landscape and thought that Lhasa was a lot different then I had imagined it to be, and then I began to think something had gone terribly wrong. An announcement was made in Chinese which later translated informed us that our plane had been diverted due to bad weather in Lhasa. SERIOUSLY!!?? Of all the possible scenarios I had envisioned, none had included this. But of course why not, it is the Himalayan mountains.
I followed the stream of people onto buses that we eventually learned were going to a hotel air china was going to put us in for the night. I met the only other "round eyes" on the flight, a Belgian family that had just recently moved to Greenville, SC. They are on a two week highlights of China tour with their two young children. Together we were able to piece together we are going to be picked up again in the morning, and try another flight at 0730. Our luggage stayed at the airport, maybe on the plane, maybe not. No one here in Chengdu speaks English.
We were given a beautiful room, much nicer than I would have ever spent on myself, and a free dinner consisting of some mystery meat I believe might have been donkey bits.
Wish me luck tomorrow, but on the bright side if the flight is delayed again, I'd love to have my photo taken with a baby panda bear!