Archives For Airport

On my last trip to Asia, the best airfare I could find had me going through Doha, Qatar, on Qatar Air. I thought it would be interesting to see a new country, so I was pleased to find an inexpensive flight, and it was booked. Would you like to see Doha?

New Sights to See | BeauSides.com

My apologies for the quality of this photo, but since it is so hot in Qatar, all of the windows to the exterior of the airport were treated to block some of the sun. I can’t imagine how hot it gets there during their summer months! Hopefully you can make out some of the tall buildings in the background. This photo doesn’t display how large an area Doha’s skyscrapers occupied, but trust me, it was expansive.

During my flight to Qatar, I found it interesting that one of the options on your personal entertainment screen was the Quran. Also, when I arrived in the Doha airport, I learned that women had a separate prayer room from men, as you can see from the sign suspended from the ceiling. Obviously I don’t know much at all about the culture in Qatar!

New Sights to See | BeauSides.com

Doha’s airport was modern and clean, and it had several play areas for children. One of the interesting observances I had while there were all of the upscale shopping options. Also, within the airport, very tall palm trees were growing. One person told me that most of the hourly workers at the Doha airport were people from Syria. I don’t know if that was true or not, but the person that told me this has traveled extensively, so I believed him.


So far my trip was going well. But you will need to read my blog scheduled for the 15th of June to see if my good fortune continued!

Recently I was traveling to China, and I had a layover in Newark, NJ. While I was in the airport, I saw a couple of things that were once very popular, but I hadn’t seen them used in a very long time. Can you guess what they were?

When Was the Last Time You Saw These Things in Use?

Not only did I see a shoeshine stand that was in use, but there was actually a line of people waiting to have their shoes polished! Man, I can’t remember the last time I witnessed a line at this type of a business, even if it wasn’t in an airport.

Shortly after feeling good about seeing the old shoeshine place having a thriving business, I saw the opposite. Near the shoeshine stand, I saw a wall full of pay phones. I think the cell phone industry and technology have had a huge impact on the use of pay phones. I had to wonder why those pay phones were still mounted on the walls. Maybe if someone left their cell phone at home before they started their trip, or were just entering the country, they may want to use the pay phones, but I think most people defer to their cell phone.

When Was the Last Time You Saw These Things in Use?

It was good to see that not all of our culture is obsolete!

Some don’t know this, but Beijing actually has two public airports. Everyone has heard of Beijing Capital Airport on the northeast side of town, which has the huge new terminal built to handle the influx of travelers for the 2008 Olympics. But did you know there was also another airport on the south side of Beijing?

Did You Know Beijing Has Two Airports?

The southern airport is called Nan Yuan Fei Jie Chong, and it was once a military airport. When I first started using that airport several years ago it had some amazing charm to it. One of the most interesting things about it was how a tractor with a flatbed trailer would haul the luggage, unloaded by hand, to a barn. The people would walk into the barn, and then the tractor would bring in the luggage. From there, you would exit into a parking lot, where you would argue and negotiate prices with a group of taxi drivers. Believe it or not, it really was a lot of fun going back and forth with those guys. It would always end with laughter, a couple of pats on the back, and a thumbs up.  Another interesting thing about this airport was how you would see old military plans parked around the airport.

Now this airport has undergone massive renovations, and unfortunately, it has lost some of the charm it once had. Your luggage now comes into the terminal on a conveyor belt, so no more barn and tractor. Also, most of the vintage military plans have been moved. Additionally, there is an orderly system of getting a taxi now, and you don’t have to negotiate with the taxi drivers.

The terminal itself is now much larger and more modern. There are several gates now where there was once only a couple, and there are many shops within the airport where there once were none that I remember. Ahhh, I guess this is progress!

Did You Know Beijing Has Two Airports?

One of the more interesting things that is still consistent with the updated facility is the loading process. You still exit the terminal’s gate, get on a bus, and drive on the tarmac where you board your plane via portable steps! It truly is an interesting process to enjoy!

Have you ever been to either of the airports in Beijing?

What do you do after flying across 12 time zones and you have to wait on a connecting flight as you try to stay awake? I like to walk around the airport and look for interesting sights. Something that I can consistently find at the Beijing Capital Airport is unique paint jobs on the aircraft taxing around the buildings!

Interesting Paint Jobs at the Beijing Airport - Air China

Often I can find new designs or bold colors, like the aircraft above. Then again, I may find some interesting logo or flags.

Interesting Paint Jobs at the Beijing Airport

I have seen planes painted to look like a dragon, and I have seen another painted canary yellow, which really caught my eye.

Interesting Paint Jobs at the Beijing Airport

Yes, I can find some interesting paint jobs! And I apologize for the quality of the photos — they are taken through a window, and the air quality in Beijing can be an issue at times.

As I watch the planes take off and land, I think about how many pounds of thrust the engines must produce to get that much weight going fast enough for the required lift to take place to get the plane off the ground. Fascinating to me, but some travelers never want to think about that aspect of their flight’s safety.

What do you find most interesting about air travel today?

There are sights to see almost everywhere we look, even at an airport in a country where you have visited many times. If you have followed my blog posts, you will know that I not only encourage people to travel, but to have a camera ready when they do travel.

So, there I was standing in the security line at the airport when I noticed the most unique backpack I think I have ever seen being carried by an adult! It truly caught me by surprise, and since I am a dog lover, I liked it very much! Check it out below!

unexpected-sights-backpack

Another image that caught my eye not long after getting through the security line at the Beijing Capital Airport was for marketing. I think most of us know who Michael Phelps is, and apparently so do the people in China. After the scandal that rocked the Olympic Swimming Team, it is good to see that some are rewarded for not “messing things up!”

unexpected-sights-marketing-sign

Don’t forget, travel when and where you can, and have your camera ready.

I regret not capturing some of the sights I have seen, because I didn’t have a camera with me and ready to use. There have been many other mistakes I have made, so keep reading my blog posts and you can learn from my mistakes!

What’s the most interesting sight you’ve seen — that you missed a chance to get a picture of, because you didn’t have your camera ready?

Friends are a good thing to have!  Anytime and anyplace, having friends you can count on is a wonderful feeling. Who knows, they may even help you from time to time — that is what my airport buddy does in China.

Over the years, I have had many interactions with a man in the Beijing airport.  I don’t know his name, and he doesn’t know my name, but we recognize each other when we see one another. He solves a problem for me, and I appreciate that very much!

How My Airport Buddy Helps Me Out

To exchange American currency into Chinese currency when I go to China, I like to go to the Bank of China in the Beijing airport. Other money exchange booths charge unwanted fees, and I am sure the Bank of China has the correct exchange rate. The bad thing about using the Bank of China at the airport is you have to wait a long time in line. They do personal banking and business accounts at the bank, so the line can sometimes be quite long. Also, it can be quite hot waiting at the bank in the summer.

My friend in the picture above not only does the transaction right away, but he also doesn’t charge any fees, doesn’t record your passport information, and gives me a slightly better rate than the bank. Additionally, there are no forms to fill out when dealing with him. For the life of me, I don’t know why the bank lets him hang out around their lobby and take clients away from them, but they do. They even let him use their money counter, which sifts through the bills and counts them quickly. All you have to do is give him your American dollars and he will give you Chinese currency. He is must faster than the bank, and that is wonderful when you have a connecting flight.

I always feel safer on the streets in China than I do on the streets of America. To show you how safe it is there, he walks around with a satchel of money and a suitcase full of money.  I used him on my last trip, and he even let me take a picture of his “vault!”

My Airport Buddy's "Vault"

Have you ever needed to exchange currencies in a foreign country? Did you find someone as helpful as my airport buddy?

 

From my many domestic flights within China, I have noticed a few things that are consistent. It appears to me that if there are many foreigners on the flight, they will all be seated in the middle of the plane. Maybe this is to make sure a flight attendant with strong foreign language skills can speak with us, or maybe they assume we are all friends. I don’t know.

The other seat I am usually assigned is in the back of the plane. I don’t mean near the back, I mean the very last row. This is where I was on my last trip, the last row. The flight was full, and the only foreigners I remember seeing were with me, so in the back we went!mynormal

I will have to say this for the fleet of planes I have flown in China; they are almost always spotless on the inside and look new. The flying experience has come a long way since I first started going to China. Years ago there were no assigned seats, so when we boarded the plane there was a crazy rush of people getting on the plane, because everyone wanted a good seat.

This is the view when you are the last passenger off the plane! If your patience can last that long, it is very easy to exit the plane this way.mynormal2

During my last visit to China, I was in a rush going to my gate at the airport. However, something caught my eye. The walls of the long corridors leading to the gates had some huge and beautiful murals on them. I wished I had some time to stop and admire them, but I didn’t. (Well, actually as it turns out I did, but I didn’t know it at the time. This is a story for another day!)

Some of these murals were of typical sights in China and others were from very recognizable locations. I apologize for the quality of the photos but, like I said, I was in a hurry to get to my gate.

Hopefully you will enjoy these photos as much as I did. This was a pleasant surprise in the airport. I hope you can recognize the Great Wall of China!

Airport Murals 1

Airport Murals 2

Airport Murals 3

Airport Murals 4

Airport Murals 5

To read more stories about the airports in China – click here.

 

One of the things that I try to avoid when I am traveling is being in a hurry to get to a flight. On a recent trip through China, I was unable to give myself the additional time before a flight because security took much longer than anticipated. As we approached our gate, we got their only to learn we would have a slight delay in boarding. As I looked around, there were many families also waiting to board. I can only imagine how horrible those words must sound to people traveling with children. I wondered how you can entertain children at an airport? There is limited space, no toys and a lot of impatient people all around.

TravelChildren1Soon I found two young boys that seemed happy about our delay. I thought that it was a great idea for the parents to give them airplanes to play with. If the children had any hesitation about flying, I am sure having planes to play with helped. Also, having the lights with multiple colors illuminating the planes truly caught the children’s eyes. The boys chose an open area to play, and they didn’t disturb any of the other passengers.

TravelChildren2Once we boarded the plane, I introduced myself to my aisle mate. She didn’t seem too happy about having a foreigner sitting so close to her, but I think she eventually accepted my bald head, blue eyes, and big nose. After using a weird looking guy like me for entertainment, her grandmother found another way to occupy the little girl’s attention. Sometimes you don’t need a toy or anything else to hold the attention of a child and keep them quiet.

As you can see in the picture below, sometimes all you need is a window! I am sure a young mind can find many interesting and new things to see at an airport, just ask my new little friend!TravelChildren3

The huge airport built in Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games is very impressive in many ways. I would suggest you know which terminal you are heading to if you are getting into a taxi to take you to the airport. There are two main terminals for travel: Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. Terminal 2 is the one I always used when I started going to China. It isn’t as new as Terminal 3, but it functions quite well. Here are a couple of pictures of the terminals.

beijingaiport

image004

You need to know what airline uses which terminal and plan accordingly, especially if you have a connecting flight. I say that because it will take you at least 25 minutes to take the shuttle bus between the terminals. It can take more depending on traffic, the driver’s style of driving, and how long you have to wait for the bus to leave.

image006The shuttle buses are free but crowded because most people have luggage with them. You can meet some nice and interesting people on the shuttle buses. On my last trip, I overheard someone whom I assume was from western Europe telling a Chinese man about some cultural issue he had read about China. The Chinese man kept saying no, it wasn’t true, but the other man kept insisting it was true because he read it on the Internet.

There is a Terminal 1, but I am going to guess it is for cargo since I have never heard of a passenger flight being used from that facility. Also, don’t be surprised if your gate at either of the terminals has some stairs and an elevator near it. You may be instructed to go down a level and get on a bus that will take you to your plane, which is parked away from the building waiting for the passengers. The terminals are easy to use, and there are many signs in English directing you to where you want to go. Also, they have information booths, and usually the people can speak English.