Did you know Beijing had another airport besides the famous Beijing Capital International Airport? It is called Nanyuan and it serves smaller cities, which is a huge help for local travelers. When I first used this airport, I had many very interesting impressions. One thing I noticed was that there were military airplanes in multiple areas of the airport. Some of them looked very old, so I thought maybe the aircraft were there to be mothballed. Regardless, that was something you don’t get to see every day.
As we taxied to the terminal, I noticed how much smaller the terminal was than the one at the International Airport for Beijing. In fact, there were no jet bridges coming out to reach the plane’s door for us to exit the plane and guide us into the terminal, so we used a ramp. Then, I noticed how the workers were loading the luggage and cargo on a trailer behind a farm tractor. I watched as the tractor pulled the luggage to a large shed. Everyone from my flight was walking toward the shed, so I followed the crowd. Once you entered the shed, the tractor and trailer pulled in, and people would get their luggage. It worked very efficiently, and I was able to retrieve my luggage must faster than at a large modern airport, so I was impressed.
When you exited the shed, your luggage tags were checked, and you were directed into the terminal. The terminal itself was small and you could see the exit not too far away. When you exited the terminal, there was a group of taxi drivers there to provide the transportation. Luckily for me, all of the drivers were in a playful mood and were willing to show me some grace, because I didn’t speak their language very well at all. We joked around a lot about the price and my bald head. I wasn’t comfortable with the best price I found, so I just started walking toward the street thinking that someone would meet my price. As I got near the end of a parking lot, one taxi driver did stop me and told me that it was a long way to walk to the main road. I didn’t believe him, but as I looked around, I changed my mind. We negotiated a price and away I went.
Nanyuan has been remodeled and it is much larger now. It is the oldest airport in China; it opened in 1910 as a military airport. Although this airport can now handle many more flights and passengers, I regret the loss of the special uniqueness it had as the old tiny airport not many people knew to use. Another charm that is no longer there is the taxi drivers are now lined up waiting on the fares, just like at the big airports and train stations. You just walk up to the next free taxi in line—and there is no negotiating for the price.