Sitting in the Vancouver airport, in what appears to be the Asia terminal (as everything is in English/French and Chinese), I’m thinking “what have I done!” Time went by so quickly yesterday, and by the time I went to sleep last night I was thinking “what the hell am I doing?” This morning I woke up weirded out by the fact that I won’t be back in Portland until June.
Thankfully, the “Aah! I’m actually doing this” thoughts kicked in mid-flight, so the panic was short-lived. The 12 hour flight into Beijing ended up being long, but bearable. I watched 3 1/2 movies and napped in my row of 2 chairs all to myself. In the rows to my right were 2 mothers and infants. They were surprisingly quiet. So basically, Chinese babies are perfect.
I arrived in Beijing around 4:30pm, Customs was efficient and after a quick trip to the ATM for some RMB I headed to the taxi stand. I waited in the taxi queue, with my Chinese symbols hotel name scrap of paper. My taxi driver spoke no English (very few people here do), but there was a phone number on the paper as well. He ended up calling the hotel about 5 times, so after 5 calls, 75 minutes and 120 RMB later we arrived… at the wrong hotel. OK, right hotel, but apparently the trip start location had changed to another hotel. Not very comforting after a long flight. They ended up driving me over to the other hotel. 2 of the people in line with me in Customs are on the same trip, go figure.
After listening to the last 5 minutes of the orientation meeting we went out in search of food and snacks for tomorrow’s Great Wall hike. We walked about a mile to a market and I got water (15 cents), cucumber potato chips, yogurt and banana chips. On the way back I stopped at a bakery to get pastries for breakfast tomorrow. I skipped the dinner part and went back to the hotel to sleep. My roommate had arrived. She’s the only other American on the trip, and is thrilled that I’m not an 85 year old widow. lol.
1st Day… Beijing is massive and busy and eerily smog-free