There’s one final tale, which I’d be remiss if I forgot to share it with you.
After Alison and I said our goodbyes in Beijing’s monstrosity of an airport terminal, I made the long trek to my gate towards Security. I wasn’t too worried about security here seeing as I’d somehow managed to return from the Philippines with six spears, 3 machetes, a monkey skull and other various tribal paraphernalia, and into the States with Cuban rum from their lovely embargoed neighbour, or back to Canada from England with frozen clotted cream. For my non-stop Air Canada flight from Beijing to Hongcouver, I packed all my little gifts of fabulous Russian and Mongolian vodka in clear Ziploc bags deep in the bowels of my carryon. Each vial of vodka was under 100 mls and remained unopened in their original bottle. Not only was I carrying mine, but Alison’s as well—gifts for her family and friends. I understood that by Air Canada’s standards, my alcoholic gifts would pose no problems, and as I didn’t want to run the risk of broken glass and liquour-soaked clothing, I put it all in my carryon. Oh the havoc that was about to be wreaked in the Bejing airport…
When I went through security and they pulled out my Ziploc bag of goods, I was pulled aside and told in not so friendly of terms that I was not allowed to bring the vodka through security, that it had to be put in my carryon. I was not exactly impressed, but asked how that could be done now that I’d checked my bags. The security officers told me I’d have to return to check-in, but that was such a far trek back I’d risk missing my flight! I fought with them for as long as I could afford, trying to point out that Air Canada allowed the bottles, that I could pass through the gates and buy as much alcohol in the duty-free zone as I could carry but they would not budge. One officer in her attempt to be kind offered for me to bring the empty bottles back since they were souvenirs. “Touching,” I thought. The sentiment reeked with sarcasm.
Nonetheless, there I stood in the Beijing airport pouring mini bottles of good Russian vodka into a garbage can, tears streaming down my face. I must have looked positively alcoholic! I was just SO frustrated that I’d worked so hard to find the gifts for family and friends and was dumping it away all because of bureaucracy. After I’d dumped a few bottles a thought crossed my mind and I asked the security people if someone from Air Canada could come and escort me to the plane with the alcohol and put it in the cargo area. Amazingly enough, through a series of panicked pleas I was able to get an official to meet me, and take my re-packed carryon onto the plane. I had a big shopping bag with me in which I stuffed my other carryon items and used that to bring aboard with me. In the end, I arrived in Vancouver with everything in tact and only a couple of empty bottles!
Jacqui was there to meet me as I came through the gates and got a look at my hilarious entrance wearing a conical Chinese hat I’d bought for her. I was home J
Definitely cry over spilled vodka…it could work in your favour!