Departure flight from Toronto was delayed by 2 hours. Flight is also no longer direct to Beijing, due to weather conditions. Must stop to refuel in Vancouver.
We are very lucky the person sitting next to the window is actively looking for another seat. Seeing David's legs all bunched up against the front seat, may have worried him of his own comfort. He found a seat in the first row of the economy class. This is wonderful to all of us. We have the section of 3 seats to ourselves.
David slept most of the 18 hours flight, and woke up for the meal intermissions. I snoozed here and there. Read Chatelaine and watch 2 french movies.
 Day 1
Landed in Beijing at 8:30 PM instead of 4:00 PM as originally planned.
Funny how all these English speaking people that boarded with us, now all speaks Mandarin on their cell phone walking out the plane.
We have to fill in 3 customs card each. One is for health security, second is what are we here for, and 3rd with our where about in the last months: if we have been on a farm, etc.
We are surprised that we could purchase cards for our cell phones before passing thru the customs. The custom agent greets us in an impeccable English, and after wishing us a nice stay, he asked that we rate his services by pressing one of 4 buttons icons with each a different grade of smiley
:D :) :| :( :C
Everywhere huge banners and advertisement for the Beijing Olympic.
Cab to the hotel in a Toyota sedan similar to a Corola: 80 YBM.
Notice the building are not lite at night. Energy conservation is smart. It makes for a unique experience: hey is this a temple? ya, but I can hardly see it.
Traffic is not mad, but nicely mixed method of transportation sharing the same road. Cuba remains the most poetic re: eclecticism on a highway.
Checking in. No big bed left, only single bed. Come back and change it tomorrow is the advice.
Breakfast is complete. Wonderful fresh fruits. Simple things starts well the day.
There is an IKEA in Beijing. Where isn't there an IKEA?
Conference registration seamless. A bit strange that guards look over people's shoulders while they type.
Not possible to change room, so we change hotel. The Beijing Continental Grand Hotel may have been a four star hotel, but it was worn. The new hotel is gorgeous for just a bit more $. Much happiness.
more to come.. description of our visit of Hutong District
 Day 2
Online during the night to load pictures and give first impressions. Today promises to be a hot day. As anticipated, I started a cold. Almost always do after a flight, as I catch anything in the contained airflow. The air conditioning is a killer for me.
We are off to the Summer Palace, lunch at the Pearl Market, Tienanmen Square, Forbidden city and the Heaven Temple. We will do a few commercial stops: pearl and silk factories.
 Day 3
We both have to work/conference this day so are mostly in the hotel. Still absorbing lots of details about China. Enjoying the breakfast buffet but getting tired of the hotel area, despite some snooping there isn't much to see. If we were less tired I'd like to see Hutong again, Zhongguancun (the "silicon valley" of Beijing), or just see some"everyday" Beijing areas.
In the evening we attended the CHI dinner. The Chinese dancing is very nice, really unique sounds and energetic dancers, but the hall is very basic - it feels like a high school dance, just tables of food and clumps of people, not even anywhere to sit. It's made for schmoozing and even without a cold and timeshifting that's alien, so we depart early to wander around the hotel area and sleep early.
 Day 4
More working, A. is again off to the conference and I am chained to the computer trying to finish a work project. Tonight we meet the rest of the tour group for our "Roam China" 18 day journey, which will be much less luxury and much more discovery.
more to come..
Blikied on July 25, 2007
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