Guangzhou to Shanghai
On January 22nd I got a phone call from front desk about 3:30 in the afternoon. My last covid test came back negative. They asked if I could vacate my room by 9am.
Brief moment of panic as when I asked the week before they told me I could leave on January 23 in the afternoon. Why the panic? Well, my boyfriend booked me a flight for 9pm that night. After a few phone calls to the boyfriend, my flight was rebooked for 12:50pm on the 23rd.
The next day, I took my suitcases and ventured downstairs. It was a quick and painless check out at the front desk. Hand over the room key card and then you are directed out the front door to another desk, where a security guard sat, bubble tea in hand and asked for my room number and name. After they locate your results, you sign a document saying you have completed your quarantine and you are free to go.
Now the wait for the Didi to the airport. Yes, a Didi! Guangzhou seemed a bit relaxed. People were walking past the hotel without masks. Something I noticed while on my way to the airport, was the lack of mask wearing in public.
One I arrived at the Airport, it was chaos. There was a massive bottleneck around one of the two doors opened for arrivals. A mass of people not wearing masks trying to download the QR code to enter the airport (people only wore masks inside the building).
There are no English speaking employees so I used a translation app to notify them that while I do have wechat, I couldn’t open the code as it would not take my passport as an I.D. The employees were a bit flustered as the app seemed to have many issues and several people were unable to load it properly.
In case you are resident permit free, as I am, there was a desk where they copied your passport and visa information, took your phone number and flight information and send you inside. Also a quick temperature check is done.
I was able to locate a currency exchange as I needed to pay for an extra bag, roughly 400RMB ($78 cad approx.) It was a simple check in process, I used a ticket machine, put one bag in the self service baggage drop off and then headed over to the excess baggage counter.
After they weigh your bag, you are given a slip to take over to the excess baggage cashier (check the booth number on the slip they give you). Once paid, your slip is stamped and you can go back to the counter and get your boarding pass.
Keep in mind that during this process, everyone ignored the social distancing circles and the airport staff were not really enforcing it.
Now, head over to the security check, wait in line, get another temperature check, unload all electronic devices. Don’t forget to toss your hand sanitizer if it has alcohol written on it, mine was removed as it said 80% alcohol. The staff said it was a fire hazard.
Now I headed off to find my boarding gate and get that delicious coffee I was craving for the last two weeks.
Guangzhou Baiyan Airport uses a touchless boarding system where you scan your passport first, followed by your boarding pass. After you step pass the machine, a staff memory (not in PPE) pumps a very generous amount of sanitizer into your hand.
Heading to the airplane, people are taking selfies without masks outside the door to the plane and staff are not in PPE. I was lucky to get a row to myself. My flight served hot food but I was uncomfortable eating with 100 other people at the same time.
Arrival at Pudong International Airport
As my arrival in China, once the airplane landed we are allowed to disembark. It was not row by row and many people were rushing to get off.
Before you can reach the baggage claim, you need to download Shanghai’s health code. It was another bottleneck of people scrambling to get the code and not a lot of staff to direct you. I flagged down an employee who told me to head over to the sign in desk, which is hidden behind a kiosk. I provided my information, they took my temperature and asked for my local address (hotel, apartment). Once everything was recorded, I was handed a sheet of paper with a stamp.
I headed back to the bottleneck, as the only foreigner, staff easily found me and told me to walk though a roped off passage where two staff in PPE took the sheet and took my temperature again.
Now I was free to pick up my baggage. I messaged my boyfriend who was waiting outside to say I was finally coming out. He drove me to my hotel, where I was again asked for a health code. The staff didn’t speak any English but my boyfriend translated for me. I showed them my negative covid results, signed another document with my contact information (and my boyfriends-they wanted to be able to speak Mandarin).
After this, I was finally allowed to head up to my room.