I don’t know since when I’ve grown to trust my instinct so much. When I was planning my last business trip, literally 10 out of 10 people, including my frequent flyer friends, told me there was no way I could make the last flight from Beijing to Hong Kong on the day before my birthday. Everyone thought I was going to miss the flight and would be stranded in the airport until the next morning.
I was determined to take the risk because I really wanna spend my last birthday in Hong Kong before I start my PhD. There is only one bus per day to Beijing from the third tier “city” I was in. I did the math, if every mode of transportation left and arrived on time: the bus and the airport express, and immigration went smoothly, I would be able to catch the flight and got home at 2am on my birthday after a good 10 hours of journey.
Please note though, Beijing is notorious for bad traffic, and the immigration at the airport is infamous for being super inefficient.
Everyone tried to warn me and talked me out of this overly-optimistic plan. My colleagues said I should stay for one more night at the five-star hotel paid for by my company and return to Hong Kong with everyone else the next day instead of travelling by myself in a country that I feel so unsafe in, but my heart was set.
My colleagues even joked if I made it, it would be a miracle and from then on every employee could follow my path to save one day of travel.
Throughout my 3.5 bus ride, I was praying for smooth traffic. When my friend called to check up on me after the bus had entered the city, he was still unconvinced that I could make it and advised me to just not bother going to the airport that night.
I didn’t listen. I had never been to Beijing before, I didn’t know the roads, but I looked up the map and the surrounding of the airport express station on the internet. I googled how long it would take to go to the airport from that station and how frequent the trains were. I thought it was still worth the try. When I got off the bus, I immediately ran to the station. I tried to buy a ticket using the machine, but I didn’t have enough change. I had to go to a ticketing booth. I told that idiot I needed a ticket to Terminal Three, but he gave me three tickets instead. I had to explain in a language that I loath and suck at.
I got to the airport 50 mins before departure. It would have been enough if I was at any world-class international airport, but not at Beijing. I was glad I went through the trouble of doing online check-in and printing out a boarding pass before I left the hotel. After a 10-min connecting train ride, I was at immigration. It was as slow as my friends depicted. There were only a handful of people in front of me standing in line, but it took forever. These customs people really do search your body well if the metal detector beeps on you!
My gate was located in the very end of the terminal. I still had 25 mins left after immigration, but when I finally got to the gate, almost everyone had already boarded.
However, it was still 15 minutes before departure. After I handed my boarding pass to the airline lady, my eyes became welled with tears of pride.
I made it. I accomplished a mission that no one thought was possible!
I wasn’t the one responsible for driving the bus or operating the airport express train, but I was the one to take the risk against every advice with good intent.
I was the one who believed in my own research and made an informed decision. It wasn’t reckless. I was willing to pay the price to sleep on a bench at the airport if I had to, but it turned out to be the wisest decision ever.
This little side track of my business trip has reinforced my belief that I should always listen to my gut feeling. Even though well meaning people may tell you to do this and that from their experience, your situation is never quite the same. You can listen with an open mind, but if you think something is right, you just have to do it. If you succeed, you’ll be proud of your own vision. If you failed, you’ll learn a valuable lesson.
Never let anyone make decisions for you. You are responsible for you own life.