Monday, July 31, 2017

China: Seattle to Beijing to Chengdu

The weather was terrible in Beijing. This meant our plane was late taking off, which meant our plane was late arriving in Seattle and would consequently be taking off 3 hours later than scheduled. Thankfully we learned of the delay before we left for SeaTac. This also meant I had time to do some house cleaning and yard work before leaving. It is so much nicer to say, "I expect it to look the way it does now when I get back" and actually mean it.

There was no traffic on Independence Day and we got there with 3 1/2 hours to spare, plenty of time to get checked in (we got to check our bags all the way to Chengdu), have some teriyaki for lunch and get a bit better acquainted with one another. I know Sue but had only briefly met Chrissy before.

The flight to Beijing was smooth and made great time. Lots of good movies and documentaries about China to watch along the way. It was raining a bit when we arrived and had to take a bus from the tarmac to the terminal.

I was a bit nervous about customs when we arrived but they were a breeze and we made it to our next gate in plenty of time. Unfortunately we had plenty of time...

The plane boarded an hour late and then we spent another three excruciating hours just sitting in the plane waiting for clearance to land in Chengdu. Needless to say, we were now going to be very late getting into Chengdu.

We arrived at 4:15am. Our luggage was some of the first ones out of the chute. Joel and Liz were there waiting for us. We hopped into a couple of taxis (had a bit of a struggle with the first driver not wanting to start his meter) and headed to the Relax Inn.

Crawled into bed around 6:30am on the 6th of July and fell asleep.

While we hadn't slept much on the plane, we also didn't want to sleep in too late. The best plan is to get right into your new time zone.

Chrissy and I slept great! We had a very nice room with an view of the back alley...

Sue, on the other hand, didn't sleep so well due to the near constant construction of a new subway line in front of the hotel...

Our hotel from across the street

The view of the construction from our hotel

We had been told breakfast ended at 10:00. But this was to be the first of many cases where things just sort of got "lost in translation." In reality, breakfast ended at 9:30 and we missed it. Liz had already considered that we might sleep in too late to eat breakfast and left us with a bag of treats to enjoy, including some gorgeous giant black grapes.

Since we had no plans until lunchtime, we went out to explore our new neighborhood. 

I loved this mop made from the selvages of baby fabric

Lots of little shops like this and lots of little boutique shops like you'd see here.

But directly across the street in an alley was an "real authentic" Chinese market. We had to go see...

There was lots of stands selling fruits and vegetables and foods to eat. There was also shops selling medicinal "wines" (which both Chrissy and Sue tried since the owner's daughter spoke a bit of English) and even a dentist "office" with a very cute and professional "dentist"???

There were also live chickens, children and dogs running around. I'm pretty sure that most people there must have assumed we were totally lost.

Soon it was lunch time and we walked around the corner to the subway station with Joel and Liz and went to the mall.

The subway station roof is right under the don't walk signal

The mall couldn't have been any more different than the market we had just been in. It was just like any mall here in America. Except that everyone and everything was Chinese or in Chinese and no one spoke English. 

We had lunch at a food court. You put money on a pre-loaded card that you can use at any food vendor inside. There were so many choices! But I finally settled on a "little bit" spicy beef pickle noodle soup and fresh pear-mango juice. YUM!

My soup is on the left

After lunch we went back to Joel and Liz's place. We met their kids and some of their friends working in China. We had pizza and enjoyed hearing about life there. 

Walking back to the hotel after dark, by ourselves I might add, I was amazed at how different the streets looked at night. I was also amazed at how many people were out and how late the shops were open. But I was ready for bed and went right to sleep...