You can stay awake – you can stay awake…
10.09.2007 - 10.10.2007 70 °F
Our flight to Beijing was “uneventful”. It’s the best you can hope for in today’s airline industry. We were lucky enough to get free upgrades to business class – so the kids got to sit in the top of the 747 with reclining seats. It didn’t help them sleep. “We’re so excited we just can’t sleep!”… so about one hour before we land, the kids are sound asleep and we have to wake them. Ugh. Walk of the living dead.
Short waits in immigration, baggage claim, and customs, then we pour through frosted glass doors into a noisy mass of Chinese faces, lined up along our entry walkway. Outstretched arms hold hand drawn placards, with western names awkwardly scribbled. We spot our names, held by a smiling bespectacled woman. We introduce ourselves – she is Rebecca and she loves Griffin. We are chopped liver. Arm-in- arm Griffin and Rebecca walk toward the garage and the cell-phone summoned Van. We load our bags into the large (and I mean large) white van and are off to the Grand Hyatt in Downtown Beijing. We pass things that are eastern and unfamiliar, western and recognizable, all seen through the “fog” as Rebecca referred to it. There is such contrast – even though the haze that reminded me of Los Angeles’ fine air quality in 1968.
We arrive at the hotel and we are assigned to a room that I have stayed in a few times before. It’s a great room with a living area and two bedrooms and it will be a great place to hang out for the next 8 days and get accustomed to living out of suitcases. We drove with Rebecca to a “local” restaurant and the kids did an admirable job staying awake through the spinning of the large lazy-susan, looking engaged in the conversation and simultaneously horrified by the unrecognizable food as it passed before them. It was like strange food roulette. Foreshadowing for 35 dinners in China? The lazy-susan slowed and all of our eyes became glassy and a bit empty as we ran headlong into the 16 hour time-zone change. On the drive back to the hotel, our necks went limp, and our eyes shut – awakening for a brief “dead man walking” lobby slog to the elevator and eventually… our beds… o-u-t.