We arrived in Beijing at about 4:15 in the afternoon, about an hour later than our originally schedule 3:15 arrival time. I stood in a long line for immigration, and when I got to the front, the attendant asked for my immigration card, which they had run out of on the plane, so I didn't have one. She just pointed to the back of the cavernous room, and sent me away. No offer to come back to the front of the line when I had it filled out.
I waited again through another long line, and eventually got through, after having to get my boarding pass out, because I had guessed at the flight number to put on the immigration card, and had gotten it wrong. Haste makes waste—as do laziness apparently.
I walked with Paula toward baggage claim, which as it turned out was accessible only by train—a train that took way too long to come for my impatient self.
After about another quarter-of-a-mile walk (not unlike the one in Chicago), we retrieved our bags, and then met the People to People representative at the exit of baggage claim. The rep that met us was actually the National P2P Leader for the Ground Water folks, with whom we were tagging along as we were all staying in the same hotel, and the rest of our Technical Communication delegation was already there.
We learned a few things on the bus along the way:
- The tap water is not potable. We each got a bottle of purified water on the bus. He told us we could wash our faces, shower, and even brush our teeth with the tap water, but just not to drink it.
- Everywhere they can exchange money in Beijing has the same exchange rate, so it doesn't matter if you do it at the hotel or at a bank or at an ATM machine.
- Beer can be ordered pretty much everywhere. It's like soda here. There are no age restrictions on its purchase or imbibing.
- There are 17-18 million people in Beijing. Mind the traffic when you're walking. The traffic signs and signals are treated more like suggestions than anything else.
- Though Beijing has a low crime rate in terms of homicides, prostitution, and drugs, pick-pocketing is not uncommon, and with as many people as there are, it's always crowded, and the pick pocketers are very, very skilled.
At the hotel the Ground Water National Guide turned us over to our Technical Communication Guide, who I liked immediately—a younger guy, named what was pronounced as Shawn, but whose formal names was Mr. Huang Shunqiang with a part of his email address being shawnhuang.
While Shawn checked us into the Beijing Swissotel, which in order to do he needed our passports, our delegation leader, Linda Oestreich, came over from the bar and introduced herself and welcomed us.
At about 7:00, after a quick shower and outfit change in my room, 1026, I made my way down to the Swiss Cafe on the first floor, where the rest of the delegation (who had been there since around 1:00 PM) had started eating at 6:30. Paula and Kathy (the other two delegates who had arrived with me from Chicago) made their way down after they freshened up as well.
Linda introduced me to everyone, who were spread out at various tables for four. I joined Kathleen Linscott and her guest James Raptis, and Kent Taylor, another delegate. It was nice to put faces to all of the names I've been reading about and from for several months now.
Tonight's complimentary meal was a buffet, and I chose a Chinese beef dish—I'm so tired I already forgot how it was prepared, I just remember that it was delicious—some baked macaroni and cheese, and some mashed potatoes, both starches of which were killer.
I had two slices of multi-grain bread with some butter on it, to top of the starch-fest, and then two rounds of dessert, the first consisting of three slices of watermelon, a chocolate cup with some whipped mocha and a coffee bean on top, and some strawberry mousse with a cherry on top.
That was going to be my complete dessert, but Kent went to an "ice cream bar," which I hadn't seen, and when he came back with pistachio ice cream, that was it. It really was a very little amount though, one small scoop. I commented, "In the States this would so not be a portion of anything. It would be mounding over the top of the glass."
Linda stopped by to check in with our table before heading up to her room for the evening. She quickly reviewed Thursday's meeting agenda with us, during which she noted that my presentation is scheduled for 10 minutes instead of the 15-20 earlier set. That's awfully quick. I've got some paring down to do.
She reminded Kent of his presentation on Friday, and he said, "Oh? Really? I never received any confirmation from P2P that my proposal to present had ever been accepted. He has 15 minutes. I'm not bitter. (I'm really not. The least amount of time I have to present, the sooner it will be over. I'm not a fan of presenting.) Kent said that the presentation he's doing is usually 30 minutes of delivery, with 30 minutes for questions afterwards. Guess he'll be doing some paring, too.
We all retired fairly early—at a little after eight. I unpacked, and was delighted at the little-to-no wrinkles in my clothes, particularly my suit jacket and the two dressiest shirts that I brought to wear with it.
I turned on the TV, primarily to see how much of it would be in English, and was actually surprised at how many options there were. However, they were mostly news-type shows. On one station, some speech of Barack Obama was being broadcasted. I don't know, and didn't watch long enough to ascertain as to whether it was live or not.
Interesting, all the way on this side of the world, in the about two-minutes, literally, that I had the TV on, there was a short blurb about an incident at Western Carolina University on the news. I think it might have been CNN. And if I heard it currently, someone had burned a head of a black bear, or something like that, and stuck it on the shoulders of an Obama effigy. Something like that.
That just happened and I can't recall it for sure. I'm so tired. I'm closing for now.