Confusion and Rumours

After a good transfer from the ship, we arrived at the Crowne Plaza hotel and after checking in we decided to catch the afternoon shuttle bus to Tai Mai Market, this turned out to be very fortunate (in a  way). While sitting on the bus another British couple got on and began a conversation, they were keen to tell us that they had to re-book their flight and had been given the 4th of May. We were stunned, because of the ash cloud we knew we were not going to fly the following day as planned but assumed we would be flying in a couple of days. They also informed us that Virgin or Cruise1st were not providing compensation or arranging alternate accommodation.
We spent some time at the market but returned to the hotel after an hour as our minds were not really on buying presents. At the hotel, there were so many rumours flying around from the other guests that nothing seemed to make sense. Despite being told not to, we decided that in the morning we would go to the airport and find out for ourselves. That evening I rang Virgin and Cruise1st but couldn’t get through. A little later in the evening, I booked a room for the following night at the Ibis Hotel across the road to ensure that we had somewhere to sleep.  Shanghai’s Expo 2010 was taking place in a few days and the hotels would be full.
The following morning we got up early, had a bit of breakfast and checked out of the hotel, stored our cases in the baggage room and then got a taxi to the airport. In a deserted airport concourse we met a couple of Polish ladies who informed us that we needn’t bother talking to Virgin as they wouldn’t do anything for us, they had been arguing with them for an hour and had got nowhere.  However, when I spoke to a lone staff member at the Virgin Check-in desk she passed me onto their main office. When I explained to the staff there that I just wished to be on the next uncancelled flight with available seats, they booked us onto a flight on the 5th of May, sixteen days away.  At least we had an end date confirmed, maybe. Later, I confirmed our booking on line. Before retuning to the Ibis, we checked out the prices of the Airport Hotels, but they didn’t provide food. We taxied back to the Ibis and checked in.
In our absence, the jungle telegraph had been working overtime and on our return, we discovered that a lot of the guests from the Crown Plaza had heard of our plan and also checked in to the Ibis. Satisfied that our holiday insurance would cover a delayed departure of up to £500, our (hopefully) 16 days at the Ibis would cost around £350, and the Crowne Plaza would be £120  a day (a no-brainer!)
Sitting in the hotel lounge we swapped stories with other guests, some had taken Virgin at their word and not tried to book a return flight. We discovered later that some managed to get seats on a flight on the 8th of May.
That evening we went out into Pudong and had a meal and beer in a pleasant nearby restaurant, as advised, we kept our receipts for claiming later.  On our return to the hotel,  we watched some Chinese TV, read a bit then went to sleep. We were soon woken at around 10.30 pm by some workers using a crane to lift some signage onto the roof of the hotel. Thankfully, it took just twenty minutes and we soon went back to sleep.
Breakfast this morning was sufficient but nowhere near as sumptuous as the Crowne Plaza, we still stuffed ourselves. Stomachs full, we walked across the road to the Crowne Plaza and read the British newspapers in their lounge. Speaking to one of the guests we were then told that Virgin was providing compensation at $100 per person per day for accommodation. I later rang Virgin and they confirmed this, but it is only for staying at a 3-star hotel (Crowne Plaza is 5*). Foolishly, some have now transferred back to the Crowne Plaza. We will be staying in the Ibis, it is comfortable enough and the WiFi is free, plus, if no one compensates me, I can afford to stay there.
It began to rain scuppering our planned visit to the zoo.

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