After our flight Chengdu – Lijiang for Tuesday was canceled, we looked at alternatives. Unfortunately, none seemed really practical: we thought about taking a bus to Chongqing and fly from there, but it would have meant a 5 hour bus drive, not being sure when and especially if we were able to get tickets.
The other option was of course to go back to the airport the next day. In the morning, we checked online the flight status of all planes leaving. It looked like the airport was slowly resuming a normal activity, with planes delayed but somehow leaving and only few of the 270 departing commercial flights scheduled (!) canceled. So we bought new tickets for Lijiang, only 60 minutes by plane, and headed to the airport through a terrible traffic jam.
There again, the long, nerve-wrecking wait started with nobody able to tell us when or even if the plane would leave. At 04:30 pm, suddenly the check in for our 03:00 pm flight was opened. Each passenger was told to immediately go to the gate and wait there for boarding. After a while and contradictory information, the small crowd of passengers was rushed to another gate to board the half empty plane. On the tarmac, waiting… then food and drinks (!) was served, this did not look good. There was not a peep of information from the otherwise friendly crew. We ended up sitting on the plane for four hours before we took off.
Observing for so many hours what was going on outside on the tarmac, we only had one explanation for our excruciating long wait: The many cargo planes coming in and those bringing in the rescue teams were giving priority landing and taking off. If only they had told us right away…We could watch the rescue teams in their orange overalls getting off the planes, collecting their huge bags and board a bus.
We arrived in Lijiang late at night. No taxi driver at the airport could read the address of our hostel, so we had to take the bus, which generally has proven the better option anyway: among a busload of passengers, there is always somebody who speaks some English. We were tired, hungry and not able to enjoy our arrival in Yunnan at that point.