Monday, June 28, 2010

Beijng Bites

20th June
12 pm Hong Kong time: I am sitting in the massive Hong Kong airport. The approach for landing offered the most breathtaking view I have see so far from air. The Hong Kong high rise and Harbor are lovely to watch from air.

1 pm : My flight to Beijing is in couple of hours. The airport is definitely a bit warm, I am beginning to sweat slightly. 

6.30 pm : Landed in Beijing, yet another huge airport. I have been forewarned by my colleagues to ask for a hotel pickup. The cab drivers do not understand English well.

7.30 pm : I am finally out of the airport. Beijing is pretty warm. I see a lady holding up a printout with my name. I follow her to the parking lot, which is underground. Surely she won’t be able to drive a car in those heels  ???!!!  Sure enough there is a car waiting for me with a Chauffer. An Audi !! I can play football in the rear seat.

7.40 pm : We are on our way out. Already impressed by the roads. Airport is in the middle of nowhere, I can’t see anything on either side of road. No sign of the infamous Beijing smog as of yet. I am settling a bit apprehensively into my seat, I know that Beijing has lots of skyscrapers. I am mildly scared of them :-( Never been all that comfortable around skyscrapers, I don’t know why

7.55 pm : First wave of skyscrapers hit us, this is not too bad, I can hold on.

8.05 pm : We pass the Bird’s nest stadium in Beijing. Beijing looks massive and with a traffic to match its big city status. Roads look better than in the US. And the driving style worse than in India

9.00 pm : Checked into the hotel, headed out for dinner with a colleague. We go to one of these traditional Chinese places. Menu includes Chicken, beef, pork, fish, soup, noodles and rice. I decline the pork, I sample everything else. The food is very hot, I like it !!

10.30 pm : Back in my room, make a couple of calls home. Internet is not free, scandalous !! Hotel is very nice and comfortable though

21st June

7.30 am : Breakfast is not free either !! Tremendous selection for breakfast. I eat heartily.

8.30 am: We are checked out and ready for our university visit. Our colleague is held up in traffic. He stays only 5 kms away, but has taken him more than 30 mins to reach us.

9.15 am: We reach the university and start our meeting. We are served tea, black, with leaves floating at the bottom of the cup. No milk, no sugar. First sample tastes awful, manage to take in a few mouthfuls. The cup gets refilled at alarmingly regular intervals, Chinese seem to be very caring hosts !!

12.30 pm: We are off for lunch with the faculty. Lunches, I am told, are grand occasions in China. I can see why. Lots of food, wine and talking. Talking is all in Chinese, so I focus on sampling small morsels of everything. Tastes pretty decent, just looks and smells very different from what I am used to seeing everyday. The fish looks as if it has just been dunked in hot water once, almost looks alive :-(( But surprisingly taste is good.

3.00 pm : On our way to Airport, Wuhan is the next destination. Flight is delayed by almost 2 hours. I am deeply engrossed in a book that I picked up at Bangalore airport. Open : An autobiography by Andre Agassi.

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