I didn’t get a chance to post from Dulles. I barely had time to make it all the way down to the very end of the concourse and make my flight. Gotta say that I love business class though. I did manage to snap a quick picture and upload to Facebook.
The seat doesn’t recline flat but almost. Just before takeoff the flight attendants hand out amenity kits that have an eye mark, ear plugs, toothbrush/paste, lotion and mints. The also offered noise cancelling headphones but I have my Bose ones. This is also the biggest airplane I’ve ever been on.
Right after takeoff they brought lunch. First was choice of beverage (I had tea) and warm mixed nuts. The main meal consisted of Smoked Salmon and Prosciutto, mixed green salad, choice of chicken, fish or beef and choice of cheese or cheesecake for desert. I went with the Chicken in Oyster Mushroom and Garlic sauce and of course the cheesecake for dessert.
For the in-flight entertainment I watched Frost/Nixon. From someone who never watches movies I thought it was very good. Figured out there was an option on the A/V to show a map of our flight progress. Looks like we headed due north out of DC and are headed out over Hudson Bay now. I managed to nap twice for about 90 minutes each time. In between, I read or played games on my computer.
Just before landing, they served a light lunch. Warm turkey and cheese sandwich that was OK. The roasted potatoes on the other hand were awful.
Landing in Beijing my first impression was how cloudy it was. Then I realized that the clouds went all the way to the ground and was really smog. Reminds me of LA times about three. The Chinese Health Dept wouldn’t let anyone off the plane until they came on board and scanned everybody’s forehead with a thermometer. I did my best not to cough or sneeze until they finished.
After coming up the jet bridge off the plane, I was met by an airport worker holding a sign with my name. This was arranged by the hotel as part of my pickup. She escorted me through another health inspection and to immigration. There things got a little tricky. My passport is over 5 years old and as some of you may know, I don’t look now a whole lot like I looked then. I worried about this before leaving the US but nobody there seemed concerned and I didn’t have time to get a new passport. Well the Chinese Immigration official was apparently concerned. He looked from me to my passport a couple of times and then called over another official who did the same thing. They in turn called over another official. I finally showed them my driver’s license as well (which is a little more current) and they let me in. Whew!
After the immigration adventure I picked up my suitcase from the belt and breezed through customs. My impression of the Beijing airport thus far had been to wonder where all the people were. However, after clearing customs I realized they were all waiting outside the exit holding sign. Luckily my escort took me down a fancy hallway to a private elevator. At the bottom there was a much smaller lobby with about 5 or 6 black cars. Apparently these were for the hired car pickups. I felt very special (and glad I hadn’t had to deal with all that myself). The driver put my bags in the back of the Audi and we were off (until we hit the Beijing traffic that is).
I have to say that the ride in was a cross between riding in a London and New York City taxi. The driver had all of the politeness of London cabbies but drove like a New Yorker. There was some horn honking but only in polite taps. The highways are the cleanest I have ever seen. I found out why as we passed a street sweeper and 2 different workers picking up trash along the road (with no more protection that an orange jumpsuit). Closer into the city the roads are lined with rose bushes. I think Beijing would be really beautiful on a clear day (if there are any).
When we arrived at the hotel, someone met me at the door and after a brief stop to copy my passport, took me straight to my room. We completed the check-in process in the room. I could really get used to that.
A funny thing is that you have to out the key in a slot in the room to make the lights come on. I really hope I remember to grab the key when I leave and not lock myself out.
View out the window:
Since it was about 4:30 at this point, I decided that best use of my time would be to schedule a Spa appointment for a massage. I have to tell you it was the best massage I’ve ever had. (Bonnie, you need to come try it! I guarantee you’d love it.)
Totally relaxed at this point, I grabbed a quick dinner at the hotel restaurant and am turning in for the night. Tomorrow I’m heading to the Great Wall and Forbidden City on a tour with a couple of the other Microsoft guys from the UK.
More to come I’m sure.