Well, we have arrived and are happily ensconced in our hotel in Kunming.
The trip was fairly easy, all flights were on time and both of our bags arrived at our final destination, so I considered it to be a great trip.
We flew out of Atlanta, arriving in New Jersey and waiting for about 2 hours for our flight to Beijing. I had no idea of what route the plane would take and was surprised when I saw us heading north, over Maine, around the edge of Quebec, and across mainland Canada. We then crossed the Labrador Sea, Baffin Bay and Greenland, skirted around Russia and down thru Mongolia.
One of the new things for me to see were the frozen lakes and rivers. The finger lakes were gorgeous with their interesting shapes highlighted by being frozen. The big rivers and inlets were amazing as a big sheet of ice, but even from 30,000 feet you could see the cracks in sections of ice. In one of the lakes, it was starting to break up into huge icebergs. I also loved seeing how the snow added highlights to the peaks and crevices of the topography.
As we flew, we chased the sun for a while and then it started to get dusky. I loved looking at the colors that formed just above the clouds and below the darkening sky. There would be a layer of deep, dark red at the base where the clouds were, topped by a Fuchsia red/pink. The next layer up was orange and then yellow. Where the yellow mixed with the blue sky, it formed a line of dark green…..gorgeous!!!
When we bought our tickets, we reserved the last two seats on the plane, and were in the very last row. It actually had some perks since there were only two seats in our row and we didn’t haven anyone behind us to worry about when we leaned back in the seat. Michael worked for most of the trip, while I did crosswords, played games and watched TV/Movies. Neither of us were able to sleep very much.
The Beijing airport is beautiful, and covered (sides and ceiling) with slightly rounded, sloping windows. As we were taking the shuttle to the next terminal I saw two men precariously hanging on those windows and cleaning and/or repairing them….. not a job that I would want.
While entering the Beijing airport, we were photographed numerous times. I feel sure that they were using face recognition software. We also had to walk thru a gateway where our temperature was scanned. Apparently if you have a fever, they can quarantine you.
As we were waiting for our luggage, we saw a cute little Beagle dog that was a “detection dog”. She furiously wagged her tail between duties and loved the attention of her handler……sounds like someone we know and love!!
We have been told to not drink the water….not even a mouthful, so were being careful to carry bottles with us at all times. As we were walking thru the domestic terminal, we saw a “Drinking Room”. It was basically a closet that had taps for clean drinking water, both hot and cold. Most people carried water bottles of some sort with them and would go into the station and fill them up. There were also small kiosks called “Water Stations” where you could pull out and unfold a small paper cup and fill it with a few sips of water. I guess that this is the Chinese water fountain.
Our flight to Kunming took about 3-1/2 hours and was a fine trip. We laughed that there were only 3 non-Asian’s on the plane and all three of us were seated in the same row. The gentleman that joined our “whites-only” row was from Knoxville, Tennessee and had been to China 14 times. He provided us with some good information about the area as well. We think that he is traveling to the same city that we are tomorrow, so it will be interesting to meet him again on the plane.
We were met in Kunming by our host, Doug Yu, a liaison name Jalli (I will find out how to spell it later), and a driver!!! They took us to the Expo Garden Hotel, where Jalli hopped out and checked us in so that we didn’t have to do anything!! Doug handed us two bags of food, saying that “he thought that we would be famished”. He basically apologized that it was Thai food and not Chinese, but we assured him that we didn’t mind at all. He also asked the hotel employee if he would get us some utensils to eat it with.
We were ushered to a very nice room and madly unpacked our stuff, waiting for our utensils…..they arrived…..two pair of chopsticks. We threw open the contains and happily devoured the contents. I have NO idea what the dishes were, but they were all wonderful. I will ask Doug tomorrow and write about them then.
We had quick showers and hit the bed at 1:00 am. The 4:30 wake-up call is going to be here soon!!