Day By Day

Sunday, June 07, 2009

China Diary -- Part 1 Flight to Beijing

The first day of our journey began at Dulles where we boarded a plane for Beijing. We flew a great circle route that took us over the North Pole [at least that's what the plane's gps indicated]. We looked for the open seas that environmentalists tell us have appeared at the pole, but found nothing but ice extending all the way to the horizon in all directions.

We did pass over this feature, but on close examination it appears to be nothing more than the shadow cast by a cloud formation.

Our course took us over Siberia, Mongolia, and Northern China then, after more than thirteen hours in the air we landed at Beijing and were finally able to stretch our legs. We arrived at the new international terminal 3, designed by Norman Foster, billed as the world's largest and most technologically advanced airport structure [here]. It very well may be. The facility is stunning, both inside and out.

I would gladly have spent the whole day there taking pictures, but we were warned not to wander away from the group so I lined up with the rest and was efficiently processed through customs and out to the ground transport area where buses were waiting to take us to our hotel.

As we waited to board, I took this shot, not of the main terminal but of an auxiliary building that we saw as we emerged. Isn't that gorgeous? Check out the professional shots of the main building in the link above. What a wonderful introduction to China!

Of course, it's all planned that way. Everything is calculated to impress visitors. One feature that I particularly liked, although "She Who Must Not Be Named" was not impressed, was the large number of attractive young ladies hired by the government to staff facilities where they interact with visitors. This seemed to be a constant at all government run facilities, and it certainly made dealing with the bureaucracy a great deal more pleasant than it otherwise might have been.

Then on to the hotel, an ultra-modern facility that impressed even "She Who Must Not Be Named". Here are a couple of shots from the lobby.

Then out to dinner at this place.

We spent the next couple of hours getting to know our traveling companions, sampling the food and drink at one of Beijing's top restaurants. Then finally back to the hotel for some badly needed sleep.