Welcome to Beijing
Well, our logistics haven’t been perfect – but we are in Beijing!
Flights were fine, great in fact. From Chicago to Beijing, we flew the Polar route over the top of the Arctic and arrived after about 13 hours. I actually liked the food and even slept a decent amount – of course, that’s why I can’t sleep now (and it’s 4am here).
When we left Miami, we were NOT selected for TSA Pre – which was very disappointing. Apparently it’s totally random (from the point they print the boarding pass) and although the agent ran our names through several times, we did not make the grade. Since TSA Pre is domestic only, it may be because we were continuing through with an international connection. I asked some TSA agents who were standing around but got no real answers. So, we still had to take off our shoes and go through the whole rigmarole. We just hope the Global Entry will work smoothly upon our return.
Arriving in Beijing, we never connected with our driver, so we waited awhile, asked a bunch of questions, changed some money to yuan (which you cannot do before arriving) and finally got a cab. It was an interesting intro to Chinese culture, since we were immediately pushed toward a vehicle that would’ve cost 5.5 times the going rate. Since we had found out what the rate should be (approximately 100 yuan, we rejected the ride; went and got some extra money just in case; rejected another ride at 3x the rate and finally got in a metered cab that would take us. We are traveling with 2 mid-size duffle bags, but for some reason lots of cabs have large storage tubs filled with “stuff” in their trunks and are not able to add even one standard size suitcase. Finally, with one duffle in the front seat (and one in the truck with the storage tub) we made the 45 minute trip into the city.
In Miami, we are used to a very bright skyline anytime of night, but here we were struck with how dark the city looked, but unlike Miami, the streetlights all work. The expressway had little traffic with the exception of commercial trucks, many of which were missing one or both working taillights.
Tomorrow we will start the day rested and organized – can’t wait!
Tip for the day, always get in a metered cab and have the destination written down in Chinese!