Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm in China!

Yup, you read that right - China. As in home of the 2008 Olympics. All I can say is, "Wow!" What an amazing experience so far. Thus far in my life I've only been to two places outside the U.S. - Cancun and the Cayman Islands. And I did cross the Mexican border once for a few hours. But this definitely takes the cake!

I'm traveling with some friends from work. One of my companions on the trip went to school with a Chinese national. Paul is going to take us to see various sights I'm staying at the Da Cheng Hotel in Changsha for a few days. Then we plan on going to see Zhangjiajie National Park and Beijing. It's going to be a blast.

We left early Monday morning from DFW and flew to San Francisco. I have been to California but never San Francisco. I didn't see much besides the airport. I did see the Golden Gate Bridge from the air which was cool.

A fleeting glance of San Franciso's beauty...



We flew United Airlines to Beijing. Man, was it a long flight. We played cards to pass the time. We actually flew northwest along the coast of Canada and Alaska and across to Asia. I didn't get any pictures of this, but for a long while, all we could see from the air was a blanket of ice.

Some mountains near Siberia...



Almost there...



Amazing mountain range east of Beijing...



We finally arrived in Beijing where we had to catch a connecting flight to Changsha. The Beijing Airport was quite stunning. The architecture was very cutting edge. It was the most impressive building I've ever been in. Also, the people that assisted us were extremely friendly and helpful.

Notice the ceiling at the airport...



Just like home...



I slept the whole way to Changsha. Boy, the jet lag is rough. We flew with Air China. There weren't as many internationals as in Beijing, so I felt more immersed in China's culture than ever. Once again, the people were very friendly. When we arrived at the Changsha airport, I went to the restroom and was surprised by their unique toilets. They are floor level rather than actual seats. Quite a shocker. Not to worry. The hotel sports Western style toilets.

Got a kick out of this sign...



Paul met is at the airport to take us to our hotel. The traffic here is NUTS. There seem to be no traffic rules. People sometimes drive outside their lane. There are many people on scooters too which adds to the chaos. They honk a lot but not out of anger. Rather, it's to make sure another drivers see them. Same thing with lines. People just cut and no one seems to care.

We finally arrived at our hotel which is very nice. Had a great night's sleep. You've never seen anything like this place. It's amazing. Here's the view from my window...



I'll be eating soon and starting my first full day in China. I'm excited to be here!

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