By the time we landed in Beijing at around 9pm on June 3 (after losing a day between the time change and the long flight), we had been traveling for close to 30 hours with little or no sleep. Let me say, that flight was the most miserable experience of my life! I could not get comfortable enough to sleep, the air in the cabin is very dry and my contacts were very dry. The crew was helpful and fed us promptly, etc., just being stuck on a plane that long was very difficult for me. (But so worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat!)
*Travel tip: Bring saline nose spray, eye drops and hand sanitizer. There was no soap for the entire flight.
As we made our final approach to the Beijing airport (which was quite nice by the way) we could only see lights and the distinct shapes of farm land. Donnie commented on how few lights there were for such a major city, it was deceiving as we would see at daybreak. After the fourth anxiety producing landing (for me anyway, Donnie and his Dad are pilots so they don't seem to mind), we were finally in Beijing and would at least get a break from airplanes for a few days. We walked off of the plane onto the runway where we then all loaded onto a bus for transport to the airport terminal. I was truly on my last ounce of energy and was feeling nauseous from all the travel, lack of food and sleep. As we followed the crowd
through the airport I was numb. At this point a shower and a bed were all I wanted. It was 9:00 PM China time. Our guide, Christine, was waiting for us holding a sign with our name. She was one of three guides from Bridge of Love whom we would have on the trip. (I will say now that they were all very knowledgeable and helpful. We enjoyed their company.) It was so nice to know we had made it and could relax while Christine took care of us! I could not believe the activity outside of the airport, it was a little intimidating for me. Just in front of the airport I saw how W I L D the traffic in China would be. Cars were coming within inches of pedestrians and sort of moved people out of their way to get by. (Maybe it is like this in all large cities.) It was dark as we drove to the hotel. The streets seemed busy and we were anxious to see the city in daylight.
We checked into the Prime Hotel in Beijing, which is just a few blocks from The Forbidden City, and dragged our tired bodies up to our rooms and tried to make ourselves at home while coming to terms with the realization that WE WERE IN CHINA! Being the true Internet junkie that I am, I set off to find the business office so that I could email friends, family and APC. It was almost 11 pm...my husband could not believe I was going to email after no sleep in over 30 hours...that is the definition of addicted!
Actually, I had dreamed for 18 months of sending my own "Greetings From Beijing" email and, sleep or no sleep, it was going to happen! It cost me 3 Yuan per minute and the connection was S L O W. It took more time to log on than to type the email. It reads as follows:
---- Original Message -----
From: "Don and Ashley In China" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Saturday, June 03, 2000 10:01 AM
Subject: Greetings From Beijing! 6.3.00, 11 pm
Well, after a *VERY* long flight, we made it to our room in Beijing and will be going tomorrow for a tour of the Great Wall. We were told by our guide that Elizabeth is walking on her own and is known to be very beautiful (loved by the director and staff)! We did not sleep at all on the flight and have been up for 30 hours w/o sleep. Hope everyone is doing well there. For anyone about to travel, bring saline drops for your sinuses, the air is very dry. Also, drink lots of water on the flight!!
We have only seen Beijing at night and it is amazing! Very busy, people everywhere. The airport is very nice and clean. Shanghai also has an amazing new airport.
We will email more later, the connection is really slow. Time for BED!
Love to all,
Don, Ashley, Elizabeth Xiao Chai
and Papa Don
DOT 6.02.00 - 6.15.00
Once back to our room, I had to get in the "don't drink the water" mode by placing a little cup over the faucet. For months I had worried about how I was supposed to take a shower and not get the water in my mouth and it turned out not to be that big of a deal.
Travel tip: Bring small paper/plastic drinking cups and a tupperware bowl. Packing the bowl is not a problem, just fill it with small stuff and you won't know it is there. The cups are good for using to brush your teeth and the bowl you will use for many things. I used it to wash my face with boiled water, later on the trip it was indispensable for heating congee and formula. All of the hotels have heating pots and carafes. (Once in Guangzhou with Elizabeth, what I would have given for a microwave to heat congee for my hungry girl each morning.)
The room was clean and there was a little sign saying something about how "my mother would be proud if I used my towel for two days!" It seems as though the city of Beijing is on a water conservation kick...fine with me, I happily used my towel for two days! "Just get me to Maoming" is what I was thinking at that point!! :)
After getting situated, we fell asleep (in our separate twin beds by the way). I was expecting the beds to be really hard and uncomfy...I must not be too picky, as they were fine. Maybe I was too tired to care!
Christine was meeting us at 9:00 a.m....better get to sleep....