It’s 5 am in Beijing’s city center . . . ten minutes from Tianemen Square and the Forbidden City, we sleep in a very nice hotel. We were offered only one choice of hotel for this two day stop in China’s capital. I think they picked well. We have an incredible view of city streets with huge Neon signs in red Mandarin letters . . . . from our room it feels very much like Times Square, except for the language. At 5 am the city is dead quiet . . . not a car or a person moving on the street below and many of the neon signs have gone out. Curfew?
Our plane ride on Air China was beautifully smooth and uneventful. The Air China staff were incredibly kind. I was surprised that it was such a cross cultural experience from the beginning – we were one of a few white faces in a sea of Chinese on the flight. All instructions were, of course, given in Mandarin first with a follow up in English. At one moment in the flight I couldn’t help but belly laugh at a silly difference in culture. As the plane experienced turbulence the flight attendants squatted beside their service carts in the aisle, yelling loudly to each other in forceful Mandarin. They seemed unperturbed, however it felt like something out of a bad movie! Nose blowing and throat clearing were our other surprise on the plane – the mucus noises were loud and hard to ignore!
Beijing International Airport is gorgeous, and quiet. Though we could see some smog haze from the air, once on the ground the air was not noticeably different than our own. We are told this is a “very good two days so far” of air pollution. We’ll take it. Our very first time to have someone waiting for us in the airport with our names on a sign, or rather, Davids. The sign, clearly typed, “Family of David Dickey Pierce” gave me another great laugh. 🙂 Driving through the city at night, as our tour guide talked to us, I felt surreally like I was in Washington DC again – a DC with street signs in Mandarin. There was little to remind me that I was in China.
We have arrived during one of Beijing’s “Two Meetings” periods. The Chinese Congress is assembled at their legislative building in Tianemon Square. It is closed to everyone else for the time being. Extra security are in town.
Today we will drive an hour outside of the city to see the Great Wall. All are well, the beautiful hotel is so cheering . . . we really didn’t quite know what to expect but it has been a very soft landing. Our precious two are sleeping and comfortable, it has been a good night for all. Three more days as a family of four. JQ – we’re coming for you!