05.11.2012 - 06.11.2012 38 °F
We're about 5 hours from landing at Beijing. The plane is over Russia; just passing Lamutskoe. Our route from LA was up the coast, almost to Coos Bay, Oregon & then crossing Alaska & entering Russia.
Surprising, to me, I slept most of the way. The plane is new - not sure of the model but there does seem more head room. China Air staff seems competent - rarely block the aisles with their carts so it's possible to freely move about. Each seat has an interactive touch screen. The plane is almost full, lucky no one in the middle seat. My row mate is a young American woman traveling on business.
The meal, thus far, would indicate we're not on this journey as a culinary experience. I've heard several fellow travelers joking about the food or their expectations...which seems to range from dull to too exotic. Not sure what, if any, expectations I have. I'm so totally outside my comfort zone & I don't have Philip to give me a sense of "we can fix this." My goal is to observe and learn, would be nice to have some interaction. Given the olympics were here 4 years ago, I'm expecting a visitor friendly city. And Beijing is an international business community so again I'm assuming visitor friendly.
All my life I've heard about China - after Grandad returned from Pakistan in 1953 he told everyone to stop worrying about USSR & keep their eyes on the tiger to the north - China. Then there were those childhood meals where we reminded about the 'starving children in China.' There were all wonderful visits to Chinatown, San Francisco. Modern symbols, in my minds eye are: Communist revolution, Mao, cultural revolution, industry, computers, etc.....
I'm requested to mention - LAX is the worst airport EVER! If a passenger transfers between terminals, there's no way to avoid leaving a secured area & a 2nd TSA check.
After standing in line about 1.5 hours; check in was reatively seamless. Lots of noise about 1suitcase & one carryon. I suspect it's the tour agency's restriction - I saw people boarding with what I'm sure must be a new Ikea kitchen.
3:26AM - we are now over China. About 1:43 hrs to Beijing. Another meal is served - interesting: chicken, fennel, rice; melon pieces; chicken salad; roll & yogurt. And finally! !!!! Coffee .. and it's pretty good.
Coincidence - on a plane this size, my roommate, Linda is in the seat directly behind me.
Our arrival is so early; we can't check into the hotel so instead we're to go touring. Today we see yhe olymic Bird's nest & Water Bubble buildings as well as the Summer Palace. After lunch we check into the hotel & have the afternoon free. I want to see a Hutong - I understand there are only a few left. Frommer's recommended a 2 hour walking tour - which is my choice. However, our tour hosts recommend a rickshaw (motorized). We shall see.