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Day 2: Beijing, China

Beijing, China

Day 2: Sunday, December 13, 2009

Flight to Beijing, China

Our first impression of China was the flight's descent through the thick smog. We had heard there was a lot of pollution in China (and had seen it on the Olympics TV coverage) but had forgotten it was something we needed to prepare for. There was a thick white haze that blocked the sun and cast a pallor over the ground. We flew right through it and landed.

Our luggage took a little while to come but we easily found the taxi station and waited in line (outside) for a taxi. We handed the driver the direction page from the Courtyard Beijing Marriott's website and he nodded that he knew where he was going. There was a lot of traffic at this hour (we were in the taxi by 6:15pm) and it took exactly an hour to get into the 2nd ring, the heart of the city. We passed Tiananmen Square and several giant shopping malls, one right after the other. The driver got lost and couldn't find the hotel, but we were at loss for further directions and just kept giving him the paper and showing him the attached map I had printed with the directions. Luckily, the taxi driver figured out the hotel was behind the main street, down a small side street and got us there safely. I messed up the fare and didn't leave him a tip because I thought it was total 87 Yuan, and I gave him a 100 Yuan bill, but there was an extra 10 Yuan in tolls, so the poor guy didn't get a tip.

We checked into the hotel and was told in broken English that we were upgraded to a premium room because of our platinum status. We were also told about the free continental breakfast for platinum members, which could be found on the 16th floor or 2nd floor in the restaurant. None of the staff spoke very good English, but we could understand the gist of what they were saying, and we were able to get many of our questions answered as well. The room was a good size with two double beds, a sitting area, a decent size bathroom and a table vanity.

As it was getting late at this point, we decided to skip Wanfanguli Street, which was on our itinerary and just to go across the street to the huge New World Shopping Center to have a look around and maybe find something to eat. We actually could enter the mall from the 2nd floor of our hotel, and after a detour (being led by a staff member into the restaurant because she thought I was asking her where to eat), we entered the first store. It was a general clothes type store but without the traditional walls and sections of a department store and then it opened up into the giant mall, where store upon store was just next to each other, without defined walls. It was VERY weird and extremely overwhelming for our first day and being tired from the flight. We just kind of wandered aimlessly, not knowing where we were going or what direction we came from, but we found the food court which was all traditional Chinese food, and decided not to risk eating there. We found our way outside the building (somehow!) and walked into the McDonalds (which was near the only other 2 American eateries – Starbucks and Haagan Daas), but we couldn't figure out how to order just a simple hamburger from the menu (we could only point to a combo meal), so we decided to just eat in the hotel instead. The restaurant was still open at 8:45pm and we had Chinese food – braised beef and rice and veggies for me and Hunter tried a Thai chili dish. It was satisfying but we were shocked a small bottle of Evian cost $6. We had previously stopped at the concierge lounge and got two larger water bottles, but the attendant had to unlock a cabinet for us, so we expected that we would be billed for it (we weren't and so we could have had all the free water we wanted!).

After dinner we headed right to bed, but unfortunately didn't sleep too well. We were up at 2am and then 4am and 5am and then dozed until 7am. I think we had slept too long on the flight – it wasn't jet lag, just too much sleep!

permalink written by  mohicanfan on December 13, 2009 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: Beijing/Shanghai and a Princess Southeast Asia Cruise - Dec 2009
tagged China, Beijing and Asia

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At the time I am writing this bio (Jan 2010), I, Meredith, am a 28-year old woman living in Virginia Beach, VA with my husband of almost 6 years, who works in New York 4 days a week. We are both avid travelers and beach lovers and I enjoy writing and reading. I am also a fastidious recorder of...

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