But flying into Beijing all I remember seeing is the dim glow of lights through all the smog in the air. There were no tall glassy sky scrapers or fancy cars...just a lot of polluted air. But we landed safely, and it was nice to freely walk after 13 hours of flying in a plane. We found the baggage claim very easily, but we didn't find my Dad's luggage. All the bags had arrived safely...except for my Dad's bag that was still back in Detroit. One thing I was excited about were the very Hogwarts looking trolleys that we loaded our bags onto. We carried them out to where we were meeting our guide, who's name was Jade. She held up a sign, and recognized us before we recognized her. She came over and hugged us all and introduced ourselves, then walked over and got us some chicken from KFC...very...spicy....chicken, but better than airplane food. We then walked outside.
Outside, it was cold, very, very cold, and there were lots and lots of cars. Which was no surprise, it was an airport, there are always lots of cars. So we hurried across the street (Because they don't stop for pedestrians over there, you just have to make a run for it) and found the van we would be riding in. Already inside the van was another family by the names of Jenni and Tres James. They huddled in jackets as we loaded all our bags into the van and then sat down...only to not find any seat-belts. We got comfortable then off we went.
The buildings never stopped. There was no space for anything....just constant buildings...and people...and cars...and lights...and more buildings. So much concrete in such little space. I was suddenly glad for the 13 hours of flying in the sky, for I couldn't see the sky anymore. We drove. And drove, and after trying to decipher the many signs and lights that flashed by we finally arrived. From the outside the hotel looked old and run down, but when the doors opened to the huge room with lots of Chinese-looking-decor it didn't feel run down, it felt very much real.
We got our keys to our rooms and walked down the hallway. The rooms were huge, and the beds were like slabs of concrete. Dad stayed at the front desk to arrange for the retrieval of his luggage and we attempted to go to sleep.
The next morning my Dad and I went out to breakfast. To my surprise they had fairly 'normal' breakfast foods. Different kinds of fruit, eggs any way you wanted them, bacon...but we couldn't drink anything not from a sealed bottle so I didn't get to try the "tomato juice" or any of the other drinks. Dad and I sat down and reached for our silverware, only to find two wooden sticks to eat our food with.
"Chopsticks, we sat in the chopsticks section," Dad laughed looking at the other side of the room where there was silverware. We stayed and attempted to try out the chopsticks which we would undoubtedly be using the rest of the trip. We finished eating and went back to our rooms where we grabbed more jackets and hats a scarves. Then we got in the van with the James's and off we went to our first stop, The Summer Palace.
It was the first bit of, "whoa this looks really Chinese," also it was very cold. The lake was frozen over, and in the sunshine with the ice getting warm, it made sounds like Star Wars light-sabers. But after we finished walking we went back to the van and off we went again. This time we drove through mostly city. It was a whole new experience seeing it during the daytime. It looked almost like any other city, other than the constant un-changing gray sky.
Our next stop I was exceptionally excited for, because it was the Beijing Olympic Park. In my family we are big on the Olympics. We enjoy putting it on all day and while cleaning or working just listening in from the room over. But now I was about to go to a real, actual, Olympic park. And one that I had watched as well in 2008.
It was also still very cold, but it was even cooler here...(Pun? Yes? No?) But after that we once again got back in our van and off we went. We then went to a store where there were huge tubs of multi-flavored Oreos.
After this we went to lunch, in a very very crowded restaurant
After this we went back to the hotel and rested. Another family soon joined us and we went to dinner. Now thankful for the chopstick practice at breakfast, because they had no forks or spoons of knifes.
The constant smell of smoke was annoying. There were never any "no smoking" signs, smoking was allowed everywhere, even in the hotel. But after a while I grew used it, just as I grew used to hearing so many people talk but not understanding a word. It just became a tone in the background of my mind. The babble of people whom I couldn't understand. Who I could only communicate with on my own by pointing ab objects and playing charades. It's very different not being able to communicate.
But our dinner was tasty and we went back to the hotel to try and sleep on our wonderfully comfortable beds.......
Stick around for part 3, because it's not far away either :)