I am here! After 22 + hours of traveling, I made it to Beijing. I am incredibly lucky to know an American couple, Simon and Lydia (introduced to me by Sarah :) who just happen to live here. They picked me up at the airport, fed me some delicious home made dumplings and gave me my very own bedroom with Luis Vouitton sheets. I felt like a princess. Since both of them work at the embassy, I spent my first day inBeijing by myself. And what a day it was! First of all, very few people understand English, so I have a little book with places written in chinese characters. I know two words: Nihao (hello) and xie xie (thank you). So when I got into a cab I just say nihao, point at my book and off I go. The cabs make me a little nervous, because the drivers talk to you as if you understood. I just nod and smile. Also, traffic is crazy. Bikes, cars and pedestrians share the road and are equally entitled to pass. I have seen three people in one bike! The cabs are cheap and fast, but it is so hard not knowing where you are going that I thought I would brave the metro/subway.
Thank Jesus the subway has roman characters, so i could memorize the station I want and then get off when needed. It is only 15 cents! I decided to go to the Olympic Park and check out the venues. I was lucky to score some swimming tix and watched about 8 competitions with the medal ceremonies and all. Needless to say, the bird's nest and the entire Olympic Complex is this bubble of amazing, clean, new architecture and the atmosphere at the games was awesome. I can't believe I sat where I saw Michael Phelp's mom sit only 3 weeks ago! I am so so lucky.
It is too bad that paralympic athletes are not as sought after or famous as their counterparts. I was thinking about that the whole time I was there.
Obviously, I have had some really good chinese food: ribs, dumplings, noodles and beef, etc . They are really into their desserts too. I have had dessert at every meal. Usually some flavored shaved ice with a red been sauce. I am not so much into the bean, but I love the green tea shaved ice. I wish they could just do plain shaved ice an pour a Diet Coke on it. But my lack of chinese language skills makes it impossible for me to request it. So far I have seen a couple of subway sandwich places, 3 McDonald's, Starbucks and other American places. I don't think they have cheese. I am also not sure what breakfast is like as I have only had lunch and dinner.
Tomorrow I start my actual tour, so I will update on that and on the people I meet. I am really excited, but a little concerned on the overload. I am being way too overstimulated that I don't want to forget all the amazing things I am seeing.