Wednesday, December 24


"Sir, do you need a wheelchair?"asked the MAS stewardess.
We nodded. The flight had been 6 hours long and we were tired and sleepy. With 2 meals in the airplane between 0030am and 6.30am, w could only sleep for a few hours.
We were the last to leave the plane as we waited for a wheelchair to be provided. Soon Husband was being wheeled to the immigration counter by a doll-like Chinese lady. I followed behind.
We tried to communicate with her in English. She understood but we had some problems understanding her. I decided another language might help.

"What's your name?" I asked her in Mandarin.
"Wang,' she answered.
She was surprised and relieved that I could speak Mandarin. Soon we were talking away in her own language. One thing I've learnt in university is that Mandarin spoken by Malaysian Chinese differs slightly from the mainland Chinese in terms of intonation and pronunciation. Theirs is pure Mandarin, spoken with a thick accent which I find hard to imitate. With my limited vocabulary(alas, I was English-educated) I managed to be my husband's translator.
She waited patiently as we waited for our luggage to arrive from the plane. Then with me pushing the luggage trolley and she wheeling Husband in the wheelchair, we arrived at the immigration counter.
"I can only bring you here," she said.
"Xie xie (thank you)," I replied and shook her hand, with a small piece of money in my palm. I had meant to tip her for her assistance as it can't be denied, wheeling a well-build man in the wheelchair is hardwork. It wasn't much anyway, just a small token. The steward at the our airport had been 'ok' with our tip, and we wanted to give her, who has never been to Malaysian, a small souvenir (our currency). That's the only Malaysian item we had with us.

Surprisingly, she shrank away.
"No, no.. can't take it. Sorry," she said in Mandarin and looked quite pale.
"What's wrong?" asked my puzzled Husband.
"She can't take the tip. It's against her work regulation," I explained quietly in Malay.
I nodded at her with understanding and pushed the note back into my pocket. We thanked Miss Wang again and waved her goodbye as we went through the immigration with Husband limping. Thankfully he had his cane to help him.
We learnt from Miss Wang that it's unnecessary (might even be an insult) to give tips to the Chinese. The customs and immigration officers at the Beijing airport were also courteous but strict. We were checked thoroughly and our hand luggages were scanned and rescanned(opps.. no liquid, take out all metals and wallets) until they were satisfied. We went through the same procedures both times. They were really disciplined. I suppose their experiences handling the 2008 Beijing Olympics had helped.
Our tour guide, Azmi later told us that the Chinese nationals detest bribes and many rich men had been jailed due to this serious crime. In China, the rich can't buy their way out of jail for everyone is treated equal there. We may even see ministers cycling to work in the cold morning weather.

What a way to enter China via Beijing!
Husband was on a wheelchair and me following behind. Because of our situation, we passed the custom officers quickly using special lane and were the first among the tour group members to arrive at the lobby of the airport. Others had to go through strict checks at the regular lanes.

Our handsome tour guide, Azmi who is a Chinese Muslim, was already waiting for us with his blue flag of ICT (Islamic China Tours). To our delight, he could speak Malay fluently as he is the editor of China Radio International and had been to all the states in Malaysia during his 10 trips to the country.
With our jackets, muffler and gloves, we ventured out to the main door of the airport. Thus we began our interesting tour of Beijing.


  1. Salam. What can I say? Glad that things turned out well eventually and both you and husband enjoyed the trip to China. Glad you're back. Nothing like "Home sweet home", right? Catch up with you later, Sis Aliya, as I'm going through some rough times right now. The apartment I was staying was affected by the recent landslide in Bkt Antarabangsa.

  2. Waalaikumussalam princess,
    Alhamdulillah I'm fine although am still readjusting to the hot and humid M'sian weather. Over there, it was -3'C. Been popping vitamin C for 2 weeks, hehehe. I'm sorry to hear about your rough time. Hang on, it'd be better soon. I'll pray for your well-being, insyaAllah.

  3. Puan Aliya,

    I have linked your blog to a facebook friend ... look at her facebook

    salam hjSab2

  4. Assalamualaikum

    So sorry to hear your operation. i hope its not to late to wish you well. ShafakilLah. you always astonished with your zeal and patience in Islam and life which remind me of my mother. may Allah reward you and your family greatly as of His promised. nice to see you on vacation. sad to see you nad hubby in such condition but if Allah test you, its a good sign as Allah love you and not forget you. i hope i can go to vacation too, but my job doesnt permit. btw china is my ancestoral homeland too on my mother's side.

    check this out