Beijing International Airport
>> Somehow Thursday disappeared. Never really happened actually. We all left our respective stateside homes thru the day Wednesday. DCA –> LAX … DET –> LAX … LAS –> LAX. We re-connected in LAX at the international terminal and experienced a first – waiting for the ticket counter to open. No prior check-in online, no seat reservations. No expectations. Not on Air China at least – that is, other than excitement, anxiety, and general awe over the 12 hour flight to come. The LAX Roadhouse Route 66 bar and diner served up our final helpings of Americana for a week or more with libations to assist.
>> We are sitting in Row 37 – A, B, & C on a Boeing 747-400 Air China Flight 984 direct to Beijing with transfer to a 777, Flight 925 servicing us thru to the final destination, Tokyo Japan. With a 16+ hour difference on PDT (+13 on EDT) we figured we were best to stay up for the first 2 hours or so, leaving us with 9 to rest before arriving at 4:45a local…seamlessly resetting our body clocks, or so it seemed. After delaying nagging cat-naps for the real thing, dinner was served 1 hr post take off. Red wine paired with sauced beef, rice, green beans, and a dinner roll. Tuna salad was also a side but had to be avoided. Already a sign of my impending troubles with avoiding fish on an island known for its great seafood. The real treat was the pinneapple shortbread, like a fig newton but with a pinneapple center and much thicker.
>> Thanks to a Hydrocodone left over from a wisdom tooth removal, a Tylenol Cold PM, and the wine, sleep came easy. As opposed to the Italy flight in 2009 where I watched all 3 movies – on this flight I had a mission to rest. I think I got around a solid 5 hr rest shifting every 50 min. or so.
>> The 3 of us de-board at Beijing…4:50a. First thought is to the cameras and documenting the experience and amazing space. Somehow no big surprise for a bunch of architecture students to get caught up in ceiling joint details or handrail hardware finishes. All and all though, Beijing has a damn impressive air terminal, a cathedral to air travel.
>> The funny thing is how airport language is so strong, so uniform, you don’t feel as if you are anywhere different. Only the subtitles in native language and script tell you you are in fact somewhere else.
>> As we sat in the Beijing terminal we were all fairly tired, disoriented, and for the most part wondering where Thursday went. To add to our disorientation consider…for $140 RMB (equivalent to CNY I suppose) we get 1 capuccino, 1 double espresso, and 1 American coffee to go. As it turns out from asking the gentleman at a different duty free type store, $1 USD = 6.8 RMB. So $22 USD later + a credit card service fee we have 3 empty coffees, a slight caffeine jolt, and our first international lesson learned.