20151021

At last a chance to post! Beijing 10/12/15


Our 13-hour flight from Los Angeles to Beijing was all right.  The jet seating configuration was 3/3/3 across, and we were in the middle section.  Sorry, no bulkhead seating!  We left at 1:40 Sunday morning, 10/11, flying up toward Alaska and the Arctic Circle, crossing the International Dateline, and arrived at 5:30ish in Beijing, local time.  In other words, our entire flight was a nighttime flight.  Food was served early.  The cabin was dark, quiet, and we slept intermittently.  Our dread beforehand was moot. A comfortable pillow and blanket helped.  Occasionally we got up from our seats (and the leg room in Air China was way better than US planes) and moved around up and down the aisle.  Another meal was served with only five hours left in the flight.  We slept again.  I think we entered Russian airspace or got close.  An hour before landing, people migrated to the tail of the plane to help themselves to juice, coffee, or water, and a half hour before touchdown, the plane began its descent (from 34,000').  We landed early, closer to 5 am, and it was still dark, of course.

We met up with a few of our Road Scholar group at LAX, which totaled 11 in all for the trip.  Upon our arrival in Beijing, Jimmy and I set our watches to their time, hoping our inner time frames would adjust!  After customs, we met Hu Lin, our Road Scholar guide, gathered our luggage (which was conveniently checked straight thru from Sacramento), and made our way to the van for the drive to our hotel (Radisson Blu) where we'll stay overnight.  Our rooms on the fifth floor were very nice.  After orientation and breakfast and freshening up, our group was off to the Summer Palace.


Across from the Radisson!

Our first impression of Beijing?  It's a huge city, not ugly, clean, with cars and bikes everywhere, all respectful.  The sky was clear blue and the day sparkling warm.  We certainly didn't need face masks, despite warnings.  Look at that blue sky!  I'm typing this while in Nepal.  For our one day in China and the four days in Tibet (which is China), none of our electronic devices worked.  Our phones still don't work and we don't know why.  Very disappointing.  I'm hurrying to get this post finished, because the electricity goes off (and on) at least once a day.




Our group explored the Hutongs of Old Beijing, here in front of the Bell Tower.


And it included a ride thru the narrow alleys near Beihai Park in a pedicab.  Hutong means a neighborhood formed around a well.  The pedicab navigated the narrow "streets," gridlocked by every mode of travel; it was actually fun.  Lots of tourists and locals were Out and About.  Inside the Bell Tower, our group was treated to an exquisite tea ceremony, which was lovely, except for the buying pressure afterward.  Later we visited and had lunch with a local family. 


Our guide, Hu Lin, shepherded us at the Summer Palace at Lake Kumming.  We entered through the East Gate; the crowd was incredible ... throngs of guide-led tourist groups, pink or yellow caps, many languages, all loud and pushy, very distracting.  Hearing devices for one ear were distributed to each of us in our group so we could hear our guide, but it wasn't easy to hear anything at these gorgeous 540 acre palace grounds.  We did not go inside.










We were hurried along the promenade to take the dragon boat back to the East Gate.  Most of us were now pretty well exhausted, and were happy to return to the hotel for showers and at 6pm, a short walk to our dinner spot around the corner.




The country of China spans five (5) time zones, but uses only one, aptly called "Beijing time."  I think all of us were sound asleep by 8pm.  Tomorrow we have an early wake-up call -- 4:30am.  We leave for the airport at 5am for our flight to Lhasa, Tibet.  Altogether a good day, tho very tiring.

4 comments:

  1. Wow! What a trip you are on.

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  2. whoa, and this is just day one!

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  3. What a surprise! Both to hear from you while you are still high in the Himalayas, and to see those blue skies in Beijing. Never would have imagined that one. Only one day to explore all that seems pretty darn fast. whew! but higher landscapes await, and the focus of the trip is the mountains, right? Not China. Soooooo good to read a blog from you. Also have enjoyed your facebook check ins as well. Isn't it amazing that we can do that?!

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  4. Blue skies in Beijing!!! You sure were lucky. Being out and about after arriving at your destination is the best antidote for jet lag. Nice to be touring with a small group.

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