Beijing: Getting to Know You

Love the location of my hotel in a neighborhood full of local shops and restaurants. Not so much sightseeing today; mainly orientation and acculturation.

Here are 10 things that surprised me today:

1. Stylish design of office towers in business district.

2.Uninhibited and unsmothered belching in the local noodle shop.

3. Exhuberant and friendly Chinese (after 15 years working around Chinatown NY this was most surprising)

4. Expensive western stores (Nike) are just as expansive here.

5. Clear, sunny skies and no pollution.

6. Clean, litter-free streets.

7. Feeling like a giantess but able to buy warm leggings anyway.

8. Intense mah jong in the street.

9. Not so much smoking.

10. No Chinese-dubbed American series on TV. They have their own series!

Beijing: Emperor Guards Courtyard Inn

Emperor Guards Courtyard Inn

I was welcomed like the newest imperial concubine in this cheery courtyard hotel. I particularly liked the location near the metro, Tian’men square, the Forbidden City and in a tiny Hutong neighborhood filled with local stores, noodle shops and restaurants.


So glad there’s free wifi at Nice Airport as I’m here way too early. My biggest worry is the connection in Munich as I have only 45 minutes to make the flight to Frankfurt which will bring me to the Middle Kingdom. It’s crazy but with a pricetag of 400eur’ I won’t complain.

China Preparations & Itinerary: CDay-6

Finally my visa arrived! Most simple & straightforward. Most expensive, especially for Yanks. We pay US$130—a $100 surcharge over all other citizens. Way to go America’s biggest creditor!

Here’s what the visa looks like:

The good news is that an agency in Marseilles handles the whole thing. Otherwise you must go and present your Yankee face in person.

Went to the pharmacy and got drugs, I mean meds. A good strong antibiotic could be handy just in case.

Pre-trip reading is Factory Girls, a riveting account of the young Chinese women that stream out of rural villages to work in factories. So determined! So motivated! Is western civilization doomed?

Find the answer to this and other questions in future posts.

My Itinerary