My flights with LOT have all been cancelled.
First the flight from Warsaw to Vienna, which was the second leg of my ticket to Europe. I did not mind so much, because I had in the meantime booked a separate flight from Warsaw to Athens and planned to tell the ground crew in Beijing to offload my luggage in WAW instead of VIE.
Then the flight from Beijing to Warsaw was cancelled, too, for “administrative reasons”, which apparently boiled down to the fact that China and Poland have not actually reached any agreement on re-establishing a connection. This did not stop LOT from selling tickets (at prices that soon soared to similar altitudes as LOT’s planes). When I had booked my ticket, though, I had got it at a relative bargain: about EUR 600.
With this cancelled, few options remained to get to Europe. There are very few flights still, and those that go have destinations such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Paris: not ideal when I am trying to travel from Beijing to Athens. What’s more, these tickets are sold at prices of USD 2000 and more. Supply and demand, I’m sure. On the one hand, I am happy that plane flights now have fares that do more justice to the actual cost to the environment, to name but one thing; on the other hand, of course being only human and unemployed (and Dutch), I’d rather pay less than more.
Nevertheless, I bit the bullet and bought an 1845-euro ticket on a direct flight from Beijing to Athens. This Air China flight happens twice a week and has been reliable so far, according to various flight tracker websites. So I am feeling somewhat confident that I will arrive in Athens on 2 September after all.
In other news, Master Gu had me take an exam of sorts this Monday, in which I demonstrated four taiji Forms he had selected. Having passed this assessment of my taiji level to a satisfactory degree (92/100 points), I was told he deems my skills sufficient for me to receive the WTWA Taoist Wellness Instructor certificate.
This is to be handed to me this weekend. On Sunday I’m going down to Wudang for the last time, taking my Big Box filled with taiji clothes, books, shoes and other luggage I don’t want to lug around to a shipping company to have it sent to the Netherlands. That last night I‘m staying at a hotel in town so that I can depart the next morning by car to the High-Speed Railway Station in Shi’yan. Then it’s a 6.5-hour train ride to Beijing and three quarters of an hour in a taxi to the hotel.
The next morning I have an appointment at a Beijing hospital to be tested for COVID-19 and receive another certificate: one declaring I am virus-free. Or such is the plan, anyway. With that paper I should be allowed into Greece without a hitch.
After a few days in Athens I will then rent a car and drive to the south-west tip of the Peloponnese, where a holiday home I have booked awaits me with, and here is the bit that makes me smile the most, a Private Pool. There I will holiday for a week (yes, right there, in the pool!) and then it’s back to Athens for another day. The next day, on to Budapest and Bedepuszta for the rest of the month.
Again, such is the plan. Many a cloud may pass in front of the moon before any of this is reality. We’ll see.
A few pictures to give an impression of what we’ve been up to lately and with those, I greet you warmly and fondly,