October 13

Beijing, China

Considering timezones, I landed 26 hours after I took off, with no sleep to speak of.

Looking out the windows, it wasn’t possible to see very far. This must be one of the ‘bad’ smog days.

I remembered to take some pictures of the Airport terminal on the way to customs.

My employer was nice enough to arrange for me, a ride from the Beijing Airport to the Hotel. A very nice gentleman who didn’t speak any English but “This way”, “Please” and “Thank you” was holding a sign with my name once I got past customs into the main area.

He grabbed two of my three bags, and started walking me towards where he parked the van. As we left the Airport, there was a certain smell. It was not particularly strong, but it was particularly industrial. I couldn’t smell it after an hour, and only notice it now for a minute or two after walking outside. I imagine after another day, I probably won’t notice it at all.

We got to the Hotel van (a Buick minivan), and he started driving. Merging - I notice immediately is a factor of who’s front bumper is in the space first. It seems to be the responsibility of the slightly slower person to slow down more to let in the more aggressive driver. Even out of the toll gate where several lanes have to merge all at once. I didn’t get a picture of that though. I did get a picture of the Beijing Ikea store, an MG dealership and a glimpse of the Olympic Stadium.

I got here, and the service was very good, but even the English speaking front desk staff were very difficult to understand. They had to repeat themselves several times while explaining to me the various charges they were putting on my credit card. The housekeeping staff said hi to me, but I had a very, very hard time understanding what they were asking me to do. They were all patient with me (Cultural training note: In China, it is considered the listener’s responsibility to understand, not the speaker’s responsibility to clarify), and I eventually did what they needed me to do (sign an inventory form).

I took several pictures of the hotel room, and a close-up of the TV and DVD player remotes. I unpacked, used every hanger in the room - and almost all of the drawer and shelf space. I called my wife, and Emailed several people (after getting my laptop connected), and finally went to bed around 9PM local time.