Beijing - The first night
We were finally in Beijing, how exciting! Our journey started by showing up at the Omaha airport to catch our first flight 36 hours earlier. We had been in the air for 23 of those hours. We were grateful to be on ground again for at least a few days and it was time for the real fun to begin.
We met our tour guide, Joe (his American name anyway), at the Beijing airport after going through all the checks. He led us to the parking garage where he had a friend, who was going to be our driver, pick us up. We started towards our hotel, about a 45 minute drive from the airport.
The traffic in Beijing is amazing. If you want in the other lane, just go... if there isn't room, the other cars will make room for you, they have to. Oh, don't forget about all of the bike riders riding along on the side of the street in an area for them. However, this area is also used for cars to park, so sometimes the bikers just come out in front of you as well. Also, if you want to get past someone in front of you - just use the biker's lane. The lines on the roads are general guidelines, not boundaries. If there's someone in the way, you don't have to stay in your lane, everyone else will move for you. There are a lot of taxis and busses, probably half of the vehicles on the road, and they all drive the same way as the regular cars. If there is an inch or two to spare, you can make it through. I am so glad I'm not trying to drive here.
There are also a lot of bikers. You see bikes everywhere, and there are a lot of bikes pulling wagons behind them full of stuff. We saw them carrying everything, even 10 or so bottles of water like Culligan uses. A lot of people walk too. Joe pointed out most of the young kids were wearing yellow caps. He said this was so that you would see them easier when you're driving. At the intersections, be careful of all the people who just start walking across the street (and this isn't always just at the intersections). The busiest traffic intersections aren't 'as' bad because they do wait for the light, but it is still worse than anything you would see in the US and they still have little regard for turning vehicles.
We got to our hotel, Wang Fu Jing Grand Hotel, a 4 or 5 star hotel included in the price of the tour. Joe helped us get checked in and we came to our room. Within the first half hour, I managed to blow a fuse or something when I tried to plug my laptop in and we had to get help from the staff. I'm still not sure what actually happened since I tried again while the staff was still in the room and it worked just fine. I checked to make sure we had Internet, but didn't do anything else with the laptop yet. We exchanged some of our money for yuan. Each US dollar is worth about 8 yuan. Mom & I went out and walked down the sidewalk a couple blocks until we found a KFC and we got supper to bring back to the hotel. We ate and went to bed - about 7:30pm Beijing time (fyi: all of China and Hong Kong is the same time, which is 13 hours ahead of Central time).
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