I was most amazed at the crowd at the airport when preparing to depart for Beijing. At least half the travelers were White or African-American. A school group from a high school was traveling. Beijing appears to be quite the international city from the vantage point of the departure gate at Newark airport. I met a young man with a backpack who was off to meet three buddies in Kumming and travel around for a month visiting tea plantations. He was there representing a Czech tea company called Dobra (shops in Madison and Burlington, VT). I told him that Bloomington would be a great place to start another! In another life that would have been a fun trip to take.
We three arrived safely in Beijing. The flight was long but very uneventful. Continental had a full range of movies (over 300) for free and they served us a ton of food. Grayson actually did homework and slept in addition to all the movies he watched. The paperwork was minimal, one long line at the arrival gate and a temperature scanning device, but our bags came right off the plane and Catherine from our agency was there to meet us. As you step out of the airport there are a sea of faces all waving signs for you. Catherine was at the end waving a small blue flag and smiling. She is very sweet. The shiny airport was made for the Olympics, Catherine explained. It is not used as much, but they day we were there it felt very busy. P and her family had arrived a half an hour earlier from Dulles. P will adopt also from the orphanage we are from and her daughter is only a few days younger than Tessa. Catherine got us all on a beautiful tour bus, and we were driven into Beijing to stay at the Kuntai Royal Hotel. We are told that this is a perfect hotel for westerners as we like soft beds.
Our first act was grocery shopping for water and wine and then making our way through dinner at a nearby noodle shop. P and her family joined us and the food was excellent. We all figured out what to get by pointing at a Chinese phrase book and a menu with pictures on it. P is a vegetarian and had a much harder time, but we all managed to eat something. Grayson's dumplings had green things in them and he at them all up and proclaimed them delicious. (He then almost fell asleep at the table.) The waitstaff seemed largely amused by our antics and watched carefully to see that we liked our food.
We managed to stay awake until 8:00pm which is 8:00am in Bloomington. Today we will tour many popular sites with our whole group, the balance of whom we will meet tomorrow.
Facebook and Blogspot are not available from China so I rely upon the kindness of two blogger friends to put these up.