This week I’m heading to China!  In fact, by the time you read this I’ll in my 10 days of quarantine in Guangzhou.

For the next month I’ll be working from China as part of my new role for the Active Apparel group, primarily from our office in Ningbo which is located about 2 hours south of Shanghai.

It’s been a couple of years since I last visited China but I’m still looking forward to the opportunity to visit and hopefully explore during my weekends.

It hasn’t been easy to get a visa to visit China this time around…

In fact, after a lengthy application form, with passport photos, letters from our company in China inviting me, the official letter providing me access to apply and a negative PCR test it became a bit of a waiting game to see if I could move to the next step – an interview.

Now remember this was just to get an interview.

When I went for the initial PCR test at the airport the person giving me the test asked for my passport, flight itinerary etc.

Strangely, I explained that this was just for an interview and not the flight… more to come on this part later.

I finally received confirmation for my interview.

Arriving on-time, I had to provide proof of my negative PCR test before I was allowed to enter the waiting room.

Like many places I waited for well over an hour past my designated time to see an agent.

They rechecked the application (which I had to provide a paper version of), both passports (my Canadian passport had my last visa to China which they wanted to check), my letters of invitation, the official letter, plus photocopies of my immunizations and PCR test results.

Once this was all verified I was asked to return in two days to pick up my passport and approved visa.

With this portion squared away everything was all set to go.

Well, except for the snag that China Southern Airlines now imposed…

Oi Vey!

As an added wrinkle, they would not let me transit via Kuala Lumpur unless I had completed a mandatory five-day quarantine in KL even for transiting passengers onto China.

This was the new rule; however it didn’t mitigate any of the additional 10 days of quarantine that I would still have to endure when reaching China.

Nope, this was now in addition to…

Okay – plan B was now put into operation and our team began looking for an alternate route to Guangzhou without a stop in KL.

My original itinerary was Brisbane – Singapore – Kuala Lumpur – Guangzhou.

Given that this week is Golden Week in China (national holiday), lots of people are travelling so flights are tricky to get we were able to secure flights direct from Sydney to Guangzhou.

My new itinerary has me flying from Brisbane to Sydney, then onto Guangzhou direct (actually a better route).

That being said I now leave Brisbane at 5:00 am on Wednesday morning, but I need to get to the airport at 3:30 am.

With the countback of travel time and wake up time I was now going to be up at 2:30 am, leave the house by 3:00 am to get me to the airport.

Added to this is the new passenger arrivals protocol for all international travellers entering China…

I must have a PCR test completed 48 hours before I depart, with all of this information has to be loaded into the Chinese Consulate website with my passport, travel immunization etc.

Then I need to get another PCR test the day of travel, and it must be from a different testing lab with hardcopy evidence so I can board the plane.

I found myself scurrying around trying to determine how I was going to get a “day of” PCR test and have the evidence before I board my flight in Sydney on Wednesday morning at 11:35 am.

With daylight savings being introduced into New South Wales this weekend, my arrival time was now going to be 7:35 am.

This made it super difficult to arrive, collect my bags, check in then go get tested all before boarding time…

So another change of plan that has me flying out Tuesday night for an overnight stay at Sydney airport before my flight on Wednesday morning.

My return flight is now scheduled for November 9th.

This gives me enough time to complete my ten-day quarantine in Guangzhou before taking the high speed train to Ningbo.

If we’re unable to get the high-speed train, then the journey will be 21 hours…

Fingers crossed that the high speed is running on Oct 15th when we get out of quarantine and that everything goes to plan.

I realize that there are lots of variables around this trip, but for me these only add a little more adventure.  Isn’t that what life is all about?

I’m definitely looking forward to meeting my team in Ningbo and spending time getting to know them.

Given that I’m unsure if I’ll be able to send my weekly essays from China, I’ve pre-packaged a couple of weeks in the hopes that I’ll be able to publish my last two weeks in China from there.

Until next time