26 April 2010

Extended China Visit

Originally uploaded by mofoghlu
Well, trust me to be on the longest trip away I had been on for about 6 months when disaster struck European airspace with volcanic ash meaning lots of flights were cancelled. So ended up being away from home for 2 weeks instead of 1 week.
I was with some WIT colleagues visiting Dalian in north east China (see out TSSG weblog entry for details).
I came back to Beijing to get my onward flight to Dublin via Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways, and I was told at midnight on Saturday the 17th April that my flight was cancelled, and that was not allowed to even go on the first leg of the journey to Abu Dhabi (despite having a boarding card generated via online check-in), and that my payment had been refunded and I was on my own. This is not what I expect as a customer when this type of incident happens, I expect some help and support from the airline. So much for customer service. So there I was on my own in a strange city with nowhere to stay and no knowledge of the local language spoken or written (I'd only been in Beijing the previous Tuesday for a transfer to another flight).
Luckily, I managed to get myself a booking at an excellent hotel in the city centre, the Park Plaza (very near the shopping area of Wangfujing and walking distance to the Forbidden City), to get a taxi to take me there, and I spent a week waiting for the WIT travel agent, FCM Travel Ireland, to be able to come up with an alternative way home. Eventually I secured a full-price (just shy of €2k) flight home with Lufthansa via Frankfurt the following Saturday. Quite expensive given my original return was only just over €1k.
Well I worked out a schedule where I would get up a bit late, do some touristy things, have an early dinner around 6pm local time, and then work in the evening when the timezone overlapped with home (4pm local time as 9am in Ireland). This has meant that haven't come back to huge email backlog, though obviously I do have lot of meetings to catch up on (I get around 100 per day, many of which do actually require responses).
I really enjoyed the opportunity to see Beijing, taking in the Forbidden City, the Great Wall (at Mutianyu) and some other cool sights. But I really missed being away from my family. I was really glad to touch down in Frankfurt in the EU27 on Saturday afternoon, and then in Dublin a few hours later.
The photo shows me at the Great Wall, Mutianyu section, which was the highlight of the trip, from a tourist perspective. Equally impressive was the evidence of investment and development in China both in Dalian and in Beijing. You certainly get a feel for China as a happening place, as so many people are saying. I really hope China can figure out how to share its wealth among all its 1.3 billion people, and help everyone, not just a privileged few. Bust I guess I should focus on putting our own house in order in Ireland first, where we've let the wealth gap extend too much during the boom years.
I will have to think long and hard before flying Etihad Airways again -- they did nothing to help me, not even honouring my valid ticket with them for the first leg of my journey home! Buyer beware.
A big thank you to FCM Travel Ireland and to Lufthansa for getting me home safely.
Posted by mofoghlu at 1:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

25 April 2010

Irish IPv6 Summit (Wed 19th May 2010) - Registration OPEN


Registration is now open for the Irish IPv6 Summit 2010, that will be held in Dublin Castle on Wednesday 19th May 2010.

Details of Irish IPv6 Summit 2010
  • Register for Irish IPv6 Summit 2010
  • Posted by mofoghlu at 1:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack