Thursday, October 30, 2008

10-17 and 10-18 - the Flight, Arrival in Beijing, Dinner, Hotel

Last night I had workshop 8 of accounting and I only stayed at school long enough to finish the 2 team case presentations and then Dr. Jose said that it would be OK to leave. I got gas and picked up Smug-Hub from work and raced for home. I got the iPod charging and did a last minute check of e-mail, before a quick shower and off to bed.

The alarm went off at 2:55am!! I took another quick shower to help me wake up and finished packing. I woke Smug-Hub and loaded the car while he pulled on some clothes. We got to the airport right at 4:00am and said some really long goodbyes before I headed into the airport. No one was there yet and a TSA guy told me that they don’t open until 4:30am, but that it was good to be here this early because the lines can get really long.

Right at 4:30am Dr. Wally arrived and was right in front of me when I lined up at the ticket counter. He was first and I was second and when I finally got all checked in, there were about 15 people behind me in line! Dr. Wally and I talked while getting through security and then we waited at the gate until Ann arrived. She is very short and I knew instantly that I would love her. She is a little firecracker who is not at all afraid to speak her mind and she is light and funny and a total doll!

We boarded on time and took off for Dulles, Ann and I talked the whole flight! When we landed in Dulles and went to find our gate first and then got some oatmeal, muffins and coffee for breakfast. We then had almost 4 hours to kill so we spent the time talking, reading and dozing a bit.
After a while the rest of the group started to show up and we spent some time getting to know each other. Ann convinced me to get some Pepto Bismol and Imodium before we left just in case I ate something that did not agree with me and she said that this kind of stuff was not available outside the US.

Once the flight was closer to taking off, the flight attendants made the announcement that everyone had to have their passport and boarding pass checked before boarding, so we all made a line and started getting everyone checked in, and then another lady opened up the boarding line and people started pushing and shoving to get on board. It was funny to watch the lady working for United trying to keep everyone in line. She was yelling and telling people that they were not listening to her and sending people back to have their passports checked and everything. I wasn’t boarding until section 4, so I was sitting and waiting for a while, but I figured that I could either sit in the airport or sit on the plane, so I waited and boarded close to the end of the line. I still had to wait in line on the plane a while to get all the way back to my seat. When I finally got there it already had a guy in it, when I pointed out that he was in my seat, he said that he wanted to sit next to his family and offered me his window seat and I took it.

I ended up being really squished the whole flight even though the guy sitting next to me was small. The flight was ungodly long and I was really squished the whole time, so that added to the misery. I had ordered a vegan meal and all the food was really pretty good, and I did get to watch out the window as we passed over green and then to snow and then to water filled with ice blocks and then on to the dessert. I tried to listen to my books on tape, but I kept dozing off and missing huge chunks. I tried reading and watching the movies, but I was so cramped and uncomfortable, I could not do anything for long and my feet and legs got slightly swollen from all the pressure and probably from sitting so long.

Upon landing we got through customs and baggage claim really fast. My bag was undamaged so all good there too. We all met up with each other and Dr. Wally who introduced us to our tour guide Lei. He took us to the hotel, pointing out a few things as we came into the city and letting us know the schedule for the next few days, the weather and other necessary information.

Once we got to the hotel, Ann and I asked if we could room together and once we got settled in our room we both took showers and got freshened up. Then we all met back down in the lobby and boarded the bus. Lei took us on a little drive past the “nest” used for the Olympics and pointed out other cool stuff as the sun was going down. He then took us to a restaurant for our first meal in China!

The food only cost about $10 US and they just kept filling up the table with food. The tables are all covered with lazy susan type trays, so you just spin it to bring whatever dish you want to eat closer; everyone ate themselves silly! The food was really, really good!
As we were leaving the restaurant these street vendors almost attacked us trying to get us to buy silk bags and cashmere scarves, they were really aggressive and stayed with us the whole way back to the bus. Even if you said “no thank you” or anything at all, that seemed to give them encouragement, so I just kept walking, eyes straight ahead, and did not acknowledge them at all and they totally left me alone.

Back at the hotel, Ann went to get her nails done and a hair cut, while I called Smug-Hub, popped an Advil PM and went to bed!

1 comment:

  1. Welcome back, Smug. It sounds like you had a great time over there.