By the time we landed in Beijing, and processed thru customs, and got our luggage, it had been a brutal long day. And oh boy. here's a travel tip: most lounges pay for access if you don't get it with a ticket, and it can be worth the 35 bucks. Seriously. DOOO EEET. Especially on waits longer than a couple hours.
Hong Kong is pretty and I think it's on the "see, more than just the airport list." Cathay took spectacular care of us, exec class is freaking swanky. What a way to travel. ( alas, the ticket prices preclude this from ever likely happening to us again!)
HK airport is bloody fucking HUGE. But its not the busiest. That goes to hartsfield jackson in atlanta, and I have no doubt of that.
We were met in Beijing by our guide, Kim, who's this wee slip of a girl, in jeans and sneakers and she rocked it for us.
I got viciously motionsick in the car ride to the hotel, so much that it was only sheer force of will that kept me from horking in rush hour traffic. Beijing traffic is...well...vaguely homicidal. They switch lanes with a furiousness that doesn't really speed things up, only jams it more but no ones willing to pick a lane. So the lurch and weave, and travel thud...very very green nico.
Slept it off, and the next day we went to Summer Palace, Tianamen, and forbidden city all in one swoop. Gorgeous, massive, sprawling things. There's something so odd of being in tianamen with an iphone. Yes, they don't have complete freedom, but as one guide said later, they're becoming more tolerant, by increments. Contrast this with reports of protesters in the US getting a headcracking for simply protesting, or people being arrested for closing bank accounts and suddenly that "rights!! we has em they don't!" becomes a great deal more muddy. They're becoming freer while we are not, it feels.
The one child policy is still in effect but as people become more affluent, affording the penalty is becoming common. ( our guide in shanghai was a third child!)
Anyway. The summer palace is freaking beautiful, and the Forbidden city is utterly MASSSSSSSSIVE beyond what I had been led to picture and Tianamen is this sprawling plaza. Its not much to look at, as is, but it is interesting.
Traffic, in beijing also means pedestrians, bikes and mopeds are in huge abundance and here's the trick, if you're a pedestrian, don't scurry. Walk NORMALLY. The traffic will move around you. If you run, the equation is off and then you get smucked. It took a great deal of thought to not react like a terrified white girl, but by the end of the trip we were crossing traffic like the native borns. It just stops bothering you at some point. Tho thru the trip we had more than a few moments in the car that white knuckled the guides too.:D
Great Wall: A LONG DRIVE. 3 hours. One traffic accident and the road would gum for miles. Its a busy highway. We skipped the long lines at Badaling by Kim knowing someone who could call in the police escort so we got that. Friends had to do the long line as they travelled independent. Heh.
Its brutally windy this time of year so we went up to the left side of the badaling wall to the third tower or so, its insane steep and slick too but its the less congested side. In retrospect, I think we should have floored it to Simitai or Mutianyu instead. ah well. I walked on the great wall.
Day three, we were off to Xi'an, where I'll do the next entry shortly.