Well... we got into Bejing around noon local time. Customs went ridiculously fast and we met with our tour guide in the lobby of the new Bejing Airport. It seems there were two other groups (in our same tour) who were supposed to be on our same flight from Bejing. They had not yet checked in with our guide. So... we waited.
Our guide doesn't like their new airport. It's big (and pretty). But I guess it's not really enjoyable for those who have to wait around for hours on end. The old airport had better seating, he explained. Here we are are just sort of standing around and waiting. Look at the really interesting.... big thing... to the right. Yeah... uh... big bowl surrounded by flowers was not impressive to our guide.
Looking closer, BTW, you can see Marissa is in between my mom and dad playing her DS. hee hee Marissa is addicted. I LOVE it. Kiana and Sabrina play too but for Marissa it's like every minute of downtime is DS time. I think it was a really good investment. My mom might grow to hate it. "Put down that DS! Look out the window!" But for now, the very long airplane rides were only really full of whiney complaints during take-off and landing (when the DS was stowed).
In general though, the kids were champs. I mean really, they're not kids anymore. Kiana is a Sophomore and Marissa is a Freshmen in HIGH SCHOOL for goodness sakes. And Sabrina... she's in Jr. High. So it's not like they are the babies on the plane. Having said that this is by far the longest trip they have been on. Their longest flight before this was from New Mexico to the East Coast about a year and a half ago. On that trip they went to Canada for a couple of hours. And last year they took a cruise to the North part of Mexico. But this is there first time really OFF the continent.
By the way, I snapped this photo of a sign (shout out to Carey and her photos on signs) on the moving walkways. It reads, "Please look after oldster and child." Oldster... I like that. I gotta think that sign was for me, right? I am traveling with my Oldster parents and youngster children of my sister.
So there we sat on the floor of the airport waiting this time for strangers rather than for another plane. Eventually, Marissa's DS battery went dead. She talked Kiana into letting her use hers to continue to play. As it turns out, Kiana's was almost out of power too. We went into that place there in that first photo called, "Le Cafe" to steal their power for Marissa and to pay for a coffee for me. I ordered an iced mocha thing and a ham croissant. It was around $5... very reasonable I thought. Before they brought over my coffee my mom came over and said that our tour guide (Henry) decided to stick around because another plane from Hong Kong to Bejing was delayed. And just in case the other groups were on it, he'll wait for another three hours.
We, on the other hand, could go to the hotel and then have the rest of the day free. We were next committed to a 8:30am meeting in the lobby the next morning. Free time is an exception on these tours and we were all very grateful to be able to get to the hotel and get out of our traveling funkyness.
The six of us are staying in three hotel rooms. As you learned from my previous (Business) post I am staying in a room with Marissa. My daughta' from a different mutha' (and fatha'). Kiana is staying with my mom. And Sabrina is staying with my dad. We are all on different floors. Which is just strange.
We checked into the ammenities and found that they have a swimming pool and a gym. The girls and I decided we would like to take a swim. My mom previously had told them that they would NOT have free time in China and should NOT pack swimsuits. As it turns out I am the only one traveling with a suit. A swimsuit I picked up during my Seattle layover because I left mine in Oscarville. So... we decided to spend the rest of the day getting dinner (we had after all only had breakfast on the plane), buying swim suits, and then enjoying the pool.
(side bar Marissa just woke up and said sleepily, "ah-wah." She sat up. "Is it morning?" It is quite bright out. I said, "It's 6 am. You can sleep more." She thought for a moment mumbled something about not having ever put on her pajamas and then lied back down.)
We moved our stuff into our room and then brushed teeth and hair before heading out of the hotel. We had heard there was a department store about a block away so we just sort of walked around in a loop until we found a restaurant we thought looked pretty good.
So here is the first photo of the six of us. (By the way, you can click on any photo to make it bigger but I am only attaching small pics because trying to attach them any bigger times the server out.)
I promise in the future to take photos of the food and decor and such, but last night, my objective was just to use my timer to get us all together.
After the tasty meal we walked back to where we had spotted the department store. At this point my mom and dad were feeling sleepy and were pretty much not committing to watching the girls swim. With the mix of being unshowered and humid/smog in the environment I was starting to break out and feel just generally unclean. But, I was committed to enjoying this downtime. So we pressed forward on our swim suit search.
The department store had five floors and it took a while to find the suits. Once we did, we saw that they were all pretty small. Damn those Asian size-zero figures. My mom and dad found another shop close by. The name of the store translates to "Fat Lady". Charming, huh? Anyway... they were on the too big side for my nieces and they were also swimsuit-free.
So, reluctantly, we headed back to the hotel where the girls agreed to a little lay-down time in our separate rooms and then to meet up again later and to go to the gym. That was at about 6:00pm. I fell asleep to the clicking of Marissa's DS at about 7:15pm.
I never heard from any of the other rooms.
I woke at 4:45am and blogged for you all.
Now it's 6:20am and Marissa just finished up her shower. We are gong to meet for breakfast at 7:45am to start our day.