The first day of Beijing
12.05.2009 - 13.05.2009
Sorry for the long wait...a lot of hectic things have happened up til now...
This portion of the blog will only cover the first day. I know I'm behind but I have valid reason to be....
I was almost late to the airport. It'd been a really long time since I left from Hartsfield and I only estimated the time it took to get from Augusta to downtown Atlanta. I made it on time (despite blurbs of light traffic).
I flew United Airlines for the first time (I'm a Delta girl )
My group (maybe 19 out of the 47-ish people going) had a connector flight through Chicago while the others went through D.C.
I really do love airports, as a brief aside...
I tried to stay up as long as I could the day before I left (I'm sort of jumping around topics, I know...). Dr. Reynolds suggested that we do that to rearrange our sleeping schedules and eating schedules. I went to bed at 3am with a slight allergy attack (poo....).
Anywho, the flight from Chicago to Beijing was approximately thirteen hours and seven minutes. It really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I mostly read, watched movies, and listened to the ipod. The downside was that was in the middle aisle on seat in. So, extremely uncomfortable place to sleep. I even popped a Benadryl (others were taking Tylenol PM or drinking wine to help them get to sleep). I maybe got a little drowsy but stayed up! Of all the times...
I drifted off to sleep on and off maybe three times for no more than a few moments it felt like. I was pretty sleep deprived
On the plus side, it's the first time I 've been fed on a plane in a LONG time. Like, actual food, not granola/animal crackers/snack stuff. I had a chicken and rice dish that was okay. I REALLY tried to sleep on the plane, for serial. I think my body (and mind) knew something funky was up with the time and all so I guess I stayed on an 'alert', if you will.
The turkey sandwhich they served was HOOOOORRIBLE. Me and another person in the group, Kristen, both got a little queasy after we ate it. It didn't even taste that good, but it was food, ya know? And of course, right after I start feeling queasy, TURBULENCE. That was honestly the most turbulent ride I've ever experienced.
Which brings me to my next point of conversation:
I thought we were going to fly from Chicago straight westward over California and/or Oregon/Washinton state. Instead, we go north from Chicago, through Canada, arching over those scattered Canadian islands, over Alaska, arching down through the eastern portion of Russia, and then southward to China and Beijing. We didn't quite make it over Hokkaido (that would have been cool...). It sucked that I didn't have a window seat. Mayhaps I could have seen ice caps :/
After we landed in Beijing we had to wait for medical officials to take our temperature. They have this cool instrument where all they do is point it at our forehead and it reads our temp in a second or two. We also had to fill out a medical form stating the basic info (name, passport number, all that) and if we had any headaches, fevers, vomiting, etc...
We got off the plane and headed to the first checkpoint where they took our medical forms that we filled out on the plane. We're waiting for a little bit to make sure everyone has caught up when we realize that we're missing one person. We look over to see him in the quarantine section (he was running a fever for some reason) and we get a little worried. If he was "sick" they may have had to quarantine all of us (or the entire plane) and they really will run after you and take you back to check your health).
They let him go after a few minutes (filling out paperwork, I guess) and we made our way to the luggage pick up and then to exchange our money. The rate is roughly 1 to 7; 1 U.S. dollar is 7 Yuan (or Kuai). So what may seem expensive to them is pretty cheap to us.
We meet up with the rest of the group and we head out on a tour bus. I didn't know we were going to be on a tour bus; I'm not a huge fan of being portrayed as a tourist even though they're used to it but I really wanted to integrate myself into the culture.
As a brief aside, it still hasn't hit me that I'm in China :/
I'm used to hearing Cantonese and Mandarin and being around Chinese people and seeing signs in characters (thank you, San Francisco). I'd like to think I'm fairly used to some parts of the culture as well. Sometimes I get a mental flash that I'm in S.F. :/
Ah yes, and by the time I got to Hartsfield, I wasn't nervous anymore. Miranda can testify to how nervous I was
Ah well...maybe it will hit me soon.
Anyway, we take the tour bus to Beijing (the first of the few cities we're staying at) and that city is GORGEOUS. Like, I have a respect for that city, and I 've never said that about any other city before. It's so clean and well kept! They recently had a labor day celebration of sorts so they have pots of really pretty flowers lining the streets. Many of the cars are a lot smaller than ones in the States; no Escalades or Hummers to be seen. There are smaller fancy cars though (BMW and Benzes). The traffic gets CRAZY over there. Rush hour is from 7am to 8pm everyday, or atleast every weekday. Yowzers.
We stop by a local restaurant for dinner (it was paid for in advance). I must admit that I'm pretty used to authentic Chinese food already It was nice to eat non-Americanized vittles.
After that (and a little bit of traffic) we arrive at our hotel. I room with Christa (we've had two classes togther at ASU already) at the Days Inn Joiest (interesting name). The rooms are really nice, except the one they moved us into had no internet. A tech guy came up and tried to fix it for about half and hour or more. It wasn't our comps that were the problem; it was the internet/hotel itself. He moved us to another room which STILL had no internet. At that point we were tired and jet lagged and just wanted to sleep so we left it alone. I think that pretty much sums up our day. Because of lack of internet my memory is a little fuzzy as to what happened (and it's 11.20 at night...) I had no net so no Skype to call home with Ah well.
The hotel was pretty decent, as a brief aside. Here are some pics. It was a three star hotel