Thursday, July 10, 2008

China, Day 1

I have been meaning to put my journal into an electronic format since our trip in May. I am finally able to get to it. Better late than never...

Day 1 - May 12, 2008

We flew to San Francisco on Sunday afternoon. Our flight to China was leaving around 11 am and I didn't want to worry about flying from Portland to San Fran this morning and missing a connection.

We woke up pretty early, wanting to get to the airport about three hours before the flight was set to leave. While I was in the shower, Trevor came in and said, "you might want to come out here - there's been an earthquake in China". We had done literally no preparing for this trip (other than for the run) and so we had no idea how close the earthquake was to where we were going. We went to the airport and figured if it was close, our flight wouldn't leave.

We got to the airport early - the person at the check in counter assured us it would be fine -the quake was about 2000 miles from Beijing. We checked in and headed to the gate. We sat and looked at all the people around us - wondering who else was going to China to run the Great Wall. You could tell by looking at their shoes. Many people were wearing their running shoes - it was a dead give-away!

The flight was completely full - oversold, in fact, they were trying to get people to give up their seats. We got lucky and had bulkhead seats so we had some extra room. The plane was packed. We left right on time for our 11 hour adventure in the air. I am not a good flier, so Trevor and I were both pretty concerned about how the flight would go. It ended up just fine - believe it or not - 11 hours went fast! They showed us 4 movies and fed us three times. We left San Fran on Monday at 11 and arrived in Beijing at noon on Tuesday. The terminal that we landed into was brand new for the Olympics and it was beautiful.

We made our way to immigration and waited in line for what seemed like forever - it was a sea of people. We got through and headed to baggage claim. We didn't wait long for our bags. We headed to customs and expected another long wait. Due to the Olympics, they changed their customs procedure - unless you had something to declare - you just walked right through.

We found our tour company and set our bags off to the side. The bags were going to be taken to the hotel in a separate van. We waited for the rest of our group - there were about 60 people coming in on flights today. We got to visit with some of our fellow travelers. There was a couple from Portland - the wife was running the half marathon. There was also another woman from Portland who was doing the full marathon. Funny to travel 6000 miles to meet people who live 15 miles from you!! We met another man who had run a marathon on every continent except Asia and this was it. Lots of interesting people with amazing stories.

We got on the bus and headed for the hotel. It was about an hour drive. Out the window you could see there was work being done everywhere to beautify the roadways. There was new construction everywhere - we must have passed 100 cranes!

We got to our hotel - the tour guide had given us our keys, so we just went to the room - our bags were already there. Talk about exhausted. What a long day....and it wasn't over yet - we were to meet in the lobby in a few hours for our trip to dinner. We layed down to take a nap and woke up about 10 minutes before we needed to be downstairs. I was really hoping Trevor would say he didn't want to go - I could have gone right back to sleep!

He didn't and so we went to dinner. They took us to a "local restaurant" - there was singing and dancing - performances going on while we ate. The meal was served family style - they brought plates of food to the table and we all shared. Most of what we were served was unfamiliar to us - everyone was hesitant to try these strange foods. Finally rice showed up and everyone had that!! We had been given instructions not to drink the water (even brushing our teeth in the hotel was to be done with bottled water), not to eat raw vegetables that could have been washed in water - only cooked. I had a bit of the meats they served and was ready to head home to bed.

We got back to the hotel around 9 pm and went right to sleep.

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