I’m Here. Woah.
**I finally have some limited access to internet, so this post is a little late. And incomplete. Meh. Written on August 31st. **
After approximately 20 hours of going non-stop, I’m sitting on my bed at Peking University typing this entry.
The travel itself was what one might expect of a 5000+ mile journey: an adventure.
After checking out of the DoubleTree, I headed to the airport and met up with my friend Jordan to check-in. The travel agent booked us together on Korean Air, a truly excellent airline. After paying a fairly ridiculous overweight bag fee (come on, one 57 lb bag isn’t ok, but two bags totaling 100 lb is?), we headed to the gate, grabbed some coffee and, in an hour or so, were on our way.
We flew on a Boeing 777-300 in economy class, which consisted of a fair amount of leg room, just-ok airplane food, and solid entertainment. The next 11 hours and 20 minutes were spent watching movies (The Eagle and Fast Five, with a failed attempt at Red Riding Hood, to be exact) and playing the virtual “Al’s Casino” game, during which yours truly ranked up $1 million from a start of $500. Not too shabby…I’m obviously SO cool.
At around the 8 hour mark, the flight took a turn for the worse; meals of beef stroganoff, pasta with butter sauce, and steamed bun made our bodies hate us.
To that point, the meals were surprisingly quite Western.
Eventually, we made it to Seoul.
Seoul-Incheon (spelling?) International Airport is massive.
And that becomes a problem when you have 30 minutes to make a layover.
As expected, we disembarked the plane with gate-searching in mind. However, we were guided into a TSA-like airport checkpoint for all “transfer” passengers. The guides in the booth had absolutely no sympathy for the quickly approaching departure time. Even a group from China tried to reason and were shooed away. Huffing and puffing, jogging along, and getting many stares along the way, we barely made it to the plane in time.
This was my first lesson in Asia; the arrival and departure times of planes. Much less specific.
Once we arrived in Beijing, I nervously approached the immigration counter. It wasn’t a big deal, in actuality. A quick stamp of my passport and I was in.
The ride to Beida (the informal name for Peking University) was just as crazy. My first impression of Beijing?
Big. Really Big. I had no sense of the tall buildings. In my jet-lag induced stupor, intensified by the stomach-churning road rage of our driver, I only caught glimpses of the city through the smog, but it was magnificent nevertheless.
Arriving at Shaoyuan 2, our building at Beida, I collapsed on the bed.
Next up: Orientation, the language, the great wall, and first impressions of the program. Among other things.
Questions? Let me know in the comments or by email.