Monday, July 21, 2008

Off to Beijing, China...

**DISCLAIMER:  I have been too busy and had my hands too full to get my camera out much yet.  So no pictures, but I will take plenty, I promise!**

Hello all!

As promised, here is the first (probably of many) email update on where I am and what I'm up to... 

I left Reno on Friday evening for Los Angeles...but not before sitting on the plane on the runway for almost an hour!  It was a tiny plane - just two seats on each side of the aisle, and of course I was stuck next to a 500 pound sweaty was perfect.  ;)  And as if that wasn't bad enough, the take-off was so scary ... some of the worst turbulents I've ever felt.  I swear we dropped at least 10 feet one time! 

It was an easy flight after that, and quick...we finally made it to LAX around 10:30 pm.  Oh yeah - and we're traveling with a four year old and two five year olds (my boss' kids)... 

So we were told we had to transfer terminals once we got off the plane and got our luggage.  Luggage for MOVING to China (aka it's A LOT).  They told us to find the blue "A" bus that will take us to Tom Bradley International Terminal.  Well we found the bus stop after walking around pulling tons of luggage (and REAL tired kids, it's almost 11pm remember) for about 15 minutes.  My impatient boss decided he didn't want to wait any longer because we didn't immediately see a bus coming, and that we would just walk to the right terminal.  So off we go again...luggage and kids for a "quick" walk.  Well, 45 minutes and two wrong terminals later, we made it to the Air China check in.  And NO LINE!  I couldn't believe it.  The China Air security guard let us all get in the 1st class check line with my boss (even though the rest of us weren't first class). 

We walked to our gate, and decided to try and find some food.  Well it's almost midnight at this point, and the only two places still open are Burger King and Starbucks.  I got some BK for everybody, and they literally closed the doors and locked down right behind me.  We ate and shopped at the little gift shop for awhile, and decided to try and make some beds for the kids at our gate.  No one could sleep, except for Molly, the four year old, who I was flying with.  So when it was time to board the plane, I got to carry a very heavy and completely dead to the world child on to the plane.  I literally thought my arms were going to break and I was going to drop her!!  (SERIOUSLY.)  Thankfully we had a couple open seats next to us, so I just laid down flat on my back and put her on top of me.  We both got some pretty good sleep (her a little more so than me - but at least she wasn't screaming the whole time).  The flight was about 13 hours and she probably slept for 10 or 11 of them – laying on top of me - sweating.  Man was I lucky!  ;) 

When we landed in Beijing (5:15am local time), a lady was holding a sign with our names on it as SOON as we got off.  It was great - big international airports can really be a pain to figure out sometimes - especially with kids - so the first class treatment was great! :)  Since it was so early in the morning, there wasn't a line at the airport at was almost scary how quiet it was!  We hardly waited at customs at all, and it wasn't long before our bags came.  We checked in 11 bags in Reno, and of course only 10 actually made it all the way to Beijing.  Oh well -- that's still pretty good I guess!  The lost bag should be here tomorrow morning. 

We hopped on a bus (a private bus - for all of us and our luggage) and headed for the city - no traffic (since it was so early) so it only took 25 minutes (usually takes at least 45).  It was just crazy to see how much this city has changed since last October.  It just isn’t the same Beijing at all!  The skies are blue, no traffic, less pollution, and green trees and flowers everywhere!  I really had my doubts about how "cleaned up" this city was going to be, but it really does look great!

Our hotel is amazing, of course.  Sofitel Wanda Beijing in the Central Business District.  Big fountains and pretty lights…fancy elevators and beautiful flowers.  One whole wall in the bedroom is glass and looks through to the bathroom.  And in the bathroom you just push a button and it tints the glass so no one can see in...It’s pretty cool!  And the shower has two settings.  One says hand shower or something like that, which is just like a regular shower, and the other one is rain shower...and the water just pours out of the ceiling like it's raining!!  It's great... :)

So I've been at the hotel most of the day.  Went to visit my boss' apartment which is just a couple of blocks away, and figured out what kinds of things everyone is going to need to live here.  And then...we went to WAL-MART to get stuff!  I've never been to a Wal-Mart in a foreign country, and let me tell you, it was quite an experience!  Think of Costco or some other crazy big its busiest time, and then add 1,000 Asians and smelly raw meat everywhere!  Oh it was just insane!  And if you thought stuff was cheap at Wal-Mart in the U.S. - you'd die if you saw how cheap it was here!  We pretty much half-furnished a three bedroom apartment for $250.  I love this place!!

I just wandered out for a walk since the sun is going down and it's cooling off, and got a massage!  One hour full body massage for like $20, which is a total rip-off over here, but it was a nice place and I just didn't feel like bargaining tonight.  I'm so tired.  It's 8pm over here and I've been up since 2:30am.  I ordered room service (love this job!) and as soon as I'm done eating, I'm going to get some SLEEP!

Hope everyone is well back home!  Miss you guys and I'll write again tomorrow...