Finally it's time to leave! On April 17, 2018, our neighbour drives us to the airport early in the morning. Our bike boxes, which Markus and I have already brought to the airport on Sunday, are waiting to be taken out of the luggage storage and shipped! The baggage check-in with our huge bicycle boxes runs smoothly. The employee of Singapore Airlines is very accommodating. He asks us how heavy approximately our bicycles weigh (about 25kg including the box), but the scale shows only 15kg... great for us the scales shows some kilos less! Accordingly the cost for additional luggage is within our budget.
Our first stopover is Singapore. The flight to Singapore is very pleasant, as it is not fully booked. We have the middle 4 seats of a row all for ourselves! What a luxury!
In Singapore we have a stop of 11h. That gives us enough time to visit our friends, take a shower and a nap at their home and have lunch together. Early in the afternoon we drive back to the airport, relaxed and happy.
While waiting for boarding the flight to Xi'An we start realizing that we are flying to China. Several Chinese travel groups are waiting as well. It is unusually noisy and hectic. Some Chinese passengers quickly eat their noodles or snacks while waiting in the queue for or do some last minute shopping at the duty free. Moreover they are dressed in a different way than we are used to see in international airports or in Europe. They seem to have their own Asian style.
The flight to Xi'An takes another 5½ h. We are trapped in a narrow row of seats. Unfortunately Singapore Airlines offered only this codeshare flight to Xi’An. The only advantages we have compared to the other passengers are a blanket and some kind of not really tasty food. Even though we had planned to sleep a bit during the flight it is mission impossible. The other passengers chatter, tell stories, exchange pictures or watch movies at full volume. That leaves the two of us with our worries and the question: will our luggage and especially our bikes arrive in Xi'An?
Shortly before 23.00 we land according to the time schedule. We walk through the passport control without having to answer any questions and receive our entry stamp. The first hurdle has been cleared! We can travel for the next 90 days in China! Great! The only thing missing is our luggage. Shortly after the belt of the baggage claim has started moving, our bike bags are coming. That's a good sign, after all we can expect our bikes to be here as well!. But where will they be delivered? They definitely don't fit on the baggage reclaim belt! After a few attempts we find a person in charge who takes care of our request. We don't have to wait long before our huge bike boxes are brought in. You hardly can imagine, how relieved we are! After all the luggage including our bike boxes were scanned (the bikes hardly fitted into the scanner) we definitely arrived in China! Our adventure can begin.
Luckily we have booked our first overnight stay close to the airport. At first we consider taking a taxi to get to the hotel. But how shall we manage to store those two big boxes in a car? There is one simple solution to this challenge: We decide to unpack our bicycles right on the spot, assemble the wheel and the pedals, and ride to the hotel by bike. We quickly find some bystanders who watch every movement we do, study our bikes carefully, are curious and want to know what our bikes cost.
Everything is going smoothly and we are almost ready to leave, except for the one little mistake I make. I start to pump the tire, which works well at first. When removing the pump, however, all air escapes..... Does this really have to happen right now? Next time I better hand this task over to the bike expert Markus! He can definitely do this better than I and he also has more power. Finally we are ready to hang our bike bags on the bikes, mount our bike lamps and pedal the first 3km in China until we finally reach our hotel. It's already 1.30, time to sleep.