Published: June 16th 2011June 15th 2011
Well, I finally made it. Without my luggage. But let's start off at the beginning.
So I left Charlotte on the 13th to Newark. The plane arrived a bit late, and I managed to power walk my way to the the gate with 30 minutes before take off (which was the cut off time for boarding). The plane took off, and I was seated next to a Chinese woman who I think was from NYC (if my chinese is correct, which is questionable at best). We talked in Chinese for a while, and helped me review some characters. In the back of the plane with us was a U14 (or U16, not sure) Puerto Rican girls soccer team who was playing a tournament in Beijing. Where's Jay when you need him? Oh right, slacking off in Chile. Anyway, the flight was 13h, but it was cool flying over the arctic.
We landed around 1:30 pm Beijing time on the 14th. Customs was no problem, but then my luggage didn't show up. Awesome. After two hours of lines, forms, and arguing, I finally left the airport, being told by the luggage people to come back to the airport tomorrow. So I grabbed a cab, and headed to my hostel. After overpaying for my cab, but too happy to have a) something go right and b) not die in Beijing traffic to care. I checked into the hostel around 5 with plans to go to dinner around 6:30.
I woke up at 6 am, realizing that i slept through dinner. Awesome. So I read a book for a little bit, and then went off to go explore, find breakfast, and journal a bit. The area I was in was a little out of the way of the tourist part of Beijing, but It was cool to explore the more local part of Beijing. As I walked out of the hostel (and realized that a number of the hostelers were actually student living there) I got hit with that first sense of being in China. The hostel was at the 1/2 way point on a smallish street, and walking one way, I saw 10 different Baozi (buns) stands. at 7:30 in the morning, none of which were there when I arrived the day before. I ordered 2 pork Baozi, and walked around. It was cool, but nothing of note. I went back, checked out of the hostel, and headed to the CET school. I got a metro/bus card and rode it to my stop... and then got lost for an hour. I managed to circle my school twice before finding it, and after asking countless people how to get there. But I found it, checked in, and then went back to the airport to get my luggage. And the airport didn't have my luggage. Awesome. After 3 hours of trying to find where to go, arguing my way back to the luggage carousels, and then learning my luggage wasn't there yet, I left only to find the CET bus for student pick up. So I hitched a ride with them, and met some of my students, all of them seem very cool, and a few people who are in grad school, which surprised me. We went back to CET, and then me and a 12 others went to a local jiaozi (dumpling) place. We managed to order in Chinese, and had 7 baskets of 22 dumplings for the 13 of us. We ate them all, with my help (seriously, I think I had 40, no joke). And as a measure of price, it cost each of us about $1.85. We then went back to the dorms and crashed.
As I still wait for my luggage to come, I'll end this with a few thoughts:
Beijing smells industrial, looks smoggy, but is surprisingly quiet for such a big city.
Continental Airlines Sucks.
Everything is super cheap here.
I love it