The adventure begins…
My dog woke me up at 1:58 a.m., which was actually perfect because my alarm was set for 2 a.m. and waking up to his face was better than waking up to the screeching of my phone.
A quick shower and some last minute packing, and my mother and I hopped into the car and headed for the airport.
Normally the drive takes a bit over two hours, but at during the ‘witching hour’ when no one else is out and about, it took barely over two hours and that included a stop for breakfast.
I had checked my bag and was sitting at my gate before 5:30 a.m. My entirely empty gate. No one else showed up that early for a 7:30 a.m. flight.
Two hours later I was seated at the gate in Chicago waited for my next plane to board. I’d already discovered that the majority of Day One was going to be spent waiting around.
Flight: Chicago to Beijing
Fourteen hours really wasn’t that bad. I dozed for a lot of the flight, probably due to having been awake for over 24 hours by the time we landed in Beijing.
I watched a movie, read, listened to music, normal stuff I do on a flight – just an exceedingly lot more of it. No part of the flight was ‘the worst,’ which I had been expecting. I actually managed to keep myself occupied the entire time.
I will say, during the last three hours, my head and neck were a bit sore from the way I’d dozed off, but overall it wasn’t that bad of a flight. Actually, the almost four hour layover in Chicago was way worse.
Where we waited. And waited. And waited.
After 30 minutes of watching other people from our flight collect their suitcases, I was starting to get a bit nervous. Not only because I was afraid my bag wouldn’t arrive, but also because the ‘lost bag’ area had a line of 80 people waiting. Not even exaggerating, it was approximately 80 people and I was not eager to become one of them.
Eventually, miraculously, my bag appeared and we exchanged currency and headed through customs where we were selected to have our bags sent through the X-rays. But finally made it outside and to the rest of the members of the delegation outside the airport.
China World Hotel, Beijing
I wish I could relay how bad the Beijing traffic was during my first trip through the city, but I slept through the whole thing!
After about an hour of driving, we arrived at our hotel: the China World Hotel in Beijing, a Shangri-la hotel. (No, not like the cool mythical place, more like the 5-star, luxury hotel chain.)
I have literally never stayed anywhere nicer.
Side story: one of the things I did before traveling to China was consult with several friends I knew who were either A) Chinese or B) people who had lived in China for an extended period of time.
One of the friends had told me that I would experience ‘Christmas shock’ when I returned to the states because “China doesn’t really celebrate Christmas.”
Yeah, tell that to our hotel.
Food: Part One of Many (so much food)
Dinner that night was amazing; the buffet had so much good food. I tried to grab a tiny piece of a bunch of things. I wasn’t hungry after the flight, but wanted to try all the food.
My first day in China was complete. And the adventures were just beginning.
Stay tuned for my next post: Day Two in China: meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and hitting the streets of Beijing!
My name is Hunter and this the blog of my worldwide adventures. The purpose of this blog is to show that you can be a traveler, not just a tourist.