Arrived in Hefei

Shortly after 5 am we landed in Beijing. Our luggage was automatically transferred to the next flight, so we did not have to pass customs. We took a domestic flight to Hefei, the city where the RoboCup will take place. When we arrived at the airport there was no possibility to pass customs with our Carnet ATA since we took a domestic flight. The best reply we could get was “You should have done it in Beijing”. The problem was that we did not have luggage. Also, the RoboCup officials told us that we needed to do it in Hefei.

After exiting the security zone, we were received by a group of RoboCup volunteers. These are Chinese students who help the participants with all matters regarding the RoboCup. We asked them about customs and the Carnet ATA. They asked a few officials and made a few phone calls, but there was nothing they could do. Nobody at the airport seemed to be responsible for the Carnet ATA or even to know what this document is for (btw. this document allows us to import expensive goods (e.g. robots) temporarily for exhibition purposes without paying taxes). But the volunteers arranged an appointment for us at the RoboCup venue. Tomorrow morning we can find a person there who will help us out.

With this matter postponed to tomorrow we got a free shuttle bus directly to our hotel organized by the RoboCup officials. One of the volunteers came with us and helped us out during the check-in (and we realized that nobody in our hotel knows English). After unpacking we came back to the lobby where we met another volunteer (see photo). This time she introduced herself as the volunteer that is exclusively responsible for our team (apparently every team has a volunteer to help out). We asked her for a supermarket and restaurant nearby. She suggested to take a car since it was raining. Additonally, we learned that anytime we needed a car, we could just call her and she would provide as a car and a driver for free.

In the restaurant we had Chinese noodles with beef which we bravely ate with chopsticks! After a short shopping tour we went to the RoboCup venue to take a first look and to know where to go tomorrow. The venue is just a 5 minute walk away. Later we went to a nearby hotel where we got batteries for our robot (which were previously ordered for us by Sören, a friend of Johannes from the Rescue league).