Well we are off agian, this time we are sailing but two wheeling is never far off in our minds! Our morning departure is met by snow-snow in Atlanta in March? Remember it is climate change not global warming!
Our flight to Seatle has stiff head winds reducing our lay over to two hours and then an 11.5 hour flight to Beijing. Overall events go smoothly and we are with our guide Raymond and driver, Mr. G heading for Beijing on a Saturday evening. The traffic and smog still heavy for a weekend night. Forty minutes later we enter the heart of this 5000 year old city. The ancient ring walls that once protected the city are now expressways. We exit off and cruise down an avenue lined with bare trees covered with dazzling blue and white lights, flowers and butterflies. This street is the Bejing Rodeo Drive. High end shops featuring the latest in spring fashions, jewelry and especially women’s hand bags. We count three Ferraris among the many other luxury cars. On a very prominent corner is the large Apple store, where we are told the line often goes for several blocks. We are only two to three city blocks from Tian’an Men Square and the Forbidden City. It’s centuries colliding!
Soon we arrive at our destination the Waldorf Astoria, a fabulous hotel only one year old, serene and peaceful despite being filled to capacity. Our guide and the hotel staff explain the Chinese Communist Party congress is in session. An event that occurs once every five years for two weeks. Many members are among our hotel’s guests and the staff has everything super ship shape!!
The staff’s English is excellent and we notice the majority of Beijing’s signage is offered in English as well. The desk manager shows us to our room, presents his business card with both hands and a bow. We accept and study it as we have read is polite manners and offer our best Shei Shei (thank you)-a phrase we learned 10 minutes ago in the car, we feel most welcome!