Friday, April 18, 2008

Beijing so far

Well, both Michael and I made it to Beijing. It was a little bit of an adventure getting together and getting to the hostel. My train got in about one hour before Michael's plane was supposed to land, so I got outside and hopped on a bus toward the airport. A guy working the newspaper stand told me that if I took a certain bus to a certain stop then I could get off and find the airport shuttle bus. That matched up with what I had read in my guidebook (it was just helpful to hear it from a real person instead of reading it in a book possibly 2 years out of date) so I hopped on the bus. I opted for the bus because I could save over 100 yuan compared to taking a taxi and still get to the airport before Michael got through customs. Well, apparently 1pm is the time for every car in Beijing to come out and park on that particular road in the largest traffic jam ever. It took quite a while just to go the 5 stops to where I wanted to get off. Of course, once I got off I had no idea where the airport shuttle bus was and I was feeling pressed for time. I finally just hopped in a taxi and off we went, into yet another slowly moving river of cars.

We got to the airport at 2:30, about 35 minutes after Michael's ETA. I wasn't TOO worried because 1) I'd told Michael this might happen and he should just find a seat and wait for me if I'm not already there waiting for him, and 2) Sometimes it takes an hour or more to get through customs. Well, there we were arriving at the airport, me being not too worried. I ended up only saving about 9 yuan by taking a bus before getting in the taxi, so that part didn't work out as planned. But the taxi took me to the new Terminal 3, which is a good 15-20 minute ride away from the other 2 terminals if you have to go through the loading area to get back to the road. Well, the driver got out and asked for me if this was the right terminal and he told me it was, so I ran inside to find Michael. After 20 or 30 minutes of asking around, pacing back and forth in front of the arrivals gate, and looking at different screens with flights on them, I finally realized that Michael's flight was coming in at Terminal 2. At that point I was more worried. It was after 3 and I figured Michael had been sitting around for about an hour already. I found the shuttle to the next terminal, had to wait about 7 minutes for the driver to decide it was time to leave, sat through the 10-15 minute ride, and then rushed through the departures area to find the escalator down to Arrivals. As soon as I got off I saw Michael sitting in the seating area. Apparently it took almost no time at all to get through customs, so he'd been waiting about an hour and a half for me to get there. He didn't mind too much, I think jetlag had muddied his brain activity a bit.

We took the airport shuttle into town and then walked past Tiananmen Square and up a few blocks to get to where we're staying. It was about twice as far as we thought because Beijing is hugemongous and things are just further than you think. On Friday we climbed the Great Wall and hunted up the Bird's Nest and Bubble, two of the venues for the Olympics. Today we toured the Forbidden City and Tiananmen. Tonight we're planning to go back to the Bubble and watch some freestyle swimming events that are being held. It'll be pretty cool to be able to go inside and watch some world-class athletes. And without the crowds of the Olympics. We hope.

5 comments:

Hannah said...

Ahh...the joys of traveling in foreign lands. It's nothing if not exciting, right? :)

Tony said...

where is the hostel you guys are staying at? what's the name of it?

Donna said...

Brian,

So glad Michael arrived safely and didn't give up on your finding him and go home. I know y'all are having a great time catching up, looking at the sights, and just generally enjoying brotherly love!!

You TALL americans be careful and have fun!!

Love ya

Mabry's gamma said...

How great that Michael was able to come and visit you and actually see what you have been describing in all your posts. You two have a great time together and be careful.

Love,
Aunt Cheri

Ashley said...

Brian, That sounds so much like the adventure Tony and I had while trying to get to Beijing... and all the other "public transportation" shenanigans I endured while living in China. :) I feel your pain!!