The Great Asia Trip of 2012! – Day One!

Quick- start digging a hole. When you reach the other side of the planet, I’ll be there!

Yep. I’m in China.

Did you say “42?!?!”

Well, technically, right now I’m in Hong Kong. You can tell this because I’m able to access this blog and Facebook, among other website the Chinese government decided I don’t need to see on my visit to their country.

Oops. Hope I didn’t anger them. Last thing I need is a tail on my vacation…

Purrrr….

~ ~ ~

Why am I in Asia, you must be wondering.

(You’re also probably wondering why I haven’t updated any of my blogs in 2+ years, what the heck I’ve been up to, why I’m bothering to start now, and if the toilets swirl the other way over here. ….or not.)

Well, my family is traveling back to Vietnam for the first time since most of them left in the ’70’s. We meet up with 10+ members of my clan next week in Saigon. (Or, if you’re more modern-leaning or Communist, Ho Chi Minh City. – – – Ok, enough teasing the People’s Republic’s over here, I really am loving my time in this country and don’t want to be forced to spend another 5 to 10 here…)

Since we would be in the neighborhood (and that’s a relative term, I realize), I thought visiting China and all her glorious sights would be prudent.

So here I am.

~ ~ ~

(Note: On mainland China you can’t access blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc. So I’m backdating these to catch up to present times. Just pretend yore time traveling as you read and you won’t notice.)

~ ~ ~

June 14th, 2012

Waking up at 4 am and driving three hours before a flight halfway around the world is NOT recommended.

But that’s exactly what I did. (I had to get my car to the long term lot in Atlanta from South Carolina somehow!)

Flew from Atlanta, to Washington DC, to Beijing.

Left at 9:30 am Thursday, landed 1:30 pm Friday. So I basically time travelled ahead a day.

Interesting moments included:

– Watching the sun rise as I drove to Atlanta.

– Upgrading to an exit row. (Win!)

– Realizing the exit row doesn’t have a window. (Fail…)

– Finding two empty seats next to each other- and next to a window! (Win!) =)

– Finding that the food isn’t totally inedible.

Eat-able…. Sort-a.

– Watching “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and feeling ironic.

– Realizing I flew over the North Pole! (Wishing I had been awake to look for Santa…)

This is apparently what happened while I was asleep-ing.

Yes. Those are plates of ice.

I landed and was retrieved by my awesome Dad. We grabbed a cab and headed to our hotel and a vegetarian dinner with my mom in the hutongs. These are medieval alleyways in Beijing where they keep all of the awesome Chinese culture. Fun shopping, great food, and more history than you can shake a stick at!

My first impression of the city is that it is, of course, brimming with life. The streets teem with people moving in every direction at once, all with purpose. But that’s not much different than say, New York on any given day. What sets Beijing apart is the palpable sense of history, combined with it’s undeniable growth. There are buildings over 1000 years old set next to structures built for the most expensive Olympics in history, in 2008.

A typical ‘hutong’ (or alleyway neighborhood) in Beijing. Note the old-style roofline- so beautiful!

There’s also more air pollution than I’ve ever experienced in my life. It looked like a foggy day in London as I was landing, with buildings completely swaddled in white billows of smoke everywhere. I knew that this would be the case, but I wasn’t quite ready for the immediate smell of jet fuel that permeated the air. When I was getting off the plane I thought that the aroma was just coming from the tarmac, but I quickly learned as I toured the city that the metallic tang in the air and the heavy feeling in my lungs is something that came with the territory. Fortunately, it was raining in parts of the city, and the falling water scrubs the air of a lot of the pollution. For the rest of my time in the city I could still feel a bit of weight in my lungs as I breathed, but we actually had blue skies and stars at night, which is unspeakable rare in Beijing.

I forced myself to go to sleep, as the great battle of Jet Lag began….

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