Getting to Beijing, China

Day 1 June 26, 2008

LATITUDE LONGITUDE JFK International Airport (40.643532, -73.789168)

I left Poughkeepsie on Metro North at 6:43am to Grand Central Station. I didn’t need to leave this early. I caught the New York Airport bus at 9:10am ($15US). I arrived at Terminal 1 at JFK International Airport by about 10:15am, checked in like a breeze. I wondered aloud to the Japan Airlines staff if I really needed to be three hours early. My flight was not until 1:30pm. He said ‘no,’ and that sometimes all you need is an hour. So, live and learn. The security check-point was much longer, but still within reason in terms of amount of time it took me to get through.

I bought two bottles of water and exchanged $100US (600 yuan) once I got through the check point. I also bought a small bottle of rum at the duty free ($7US) as a sleep aid. I won’t drink the rum with the Benadryl I brought.

I’ve been advised by an airline pilot friend to start to sleep on China time. China is exactly 12 hours different than we are in New York, so it’s a little hard to think about it being 1:00am at the place that I’m getting ready to go to. Airline Pilot said to ‘drink lots of water; suck it up and buy two bottles after you get through the security check point and then drink it all flight long, even after the flight attendants go to sleep; get up and stretch, not just walk, but do knee bends, and legs stretches, especially the legs; take a sleep aid to sleep when China is sleeping (Tylenol PM or Benadryl).’ I’ll let you know how that goes.

So far, this is very exciting and going smooth, but I’m just at the beginning of the trip and have yet to get out of the country. Next stop is Narita Airport in Tokyo Japan.

On the plane (13 plus hours) I saw a lot of movies. I’ll start with the best: “Vantage Point.” I really liked this thriller; right up my alley. If you don’t know what it’s about, you can look it up, but the premise is that we see an assassination attempt from many different vantage points. This was the highlight for a geospatial technologist: the assassin used a geolocated weapon and a mobile pen-based device to 1) anonymously shoot the designated assassinated person, and 2) detonate a bomb on a suicide bomber.

Do not see: “10,000 BC.” Wow! What a dog of a movie. It was incredibly stupid and very poorly acted. Who wants to see a bunch of guys running around with very little clothing and shaking spears at each other? Don’t answer that. I wanted way more of the mastodons and maybe even some saber tooth tigers.

Ditto: “Fools Golds.” Ugho! This was another lame, poorly acted, dumb movie that was all about cutesy flirtatious talk between two fairly attractive people. They talk in that way that real life people think they talk like and don’t and it just sounds so disgusting.

I saw others but they were films I’d seen before. I played a lot of Tetris. Read an Annie Proulx short story in the New Yorker.

My flight was on Japan Airlines. I highly recommend this carrier. Accept for the fact that there was an obvious hierarchy between the poor-folks in the back of the bus and the fancy folks in First Class, I liked everything about this flight. I got up, walked around, didn’t need a sleep aid, got free alcohol. Did all the stretches that Airline Pilot suggested doing.

By the way, the free alcohol is a good thing because when I got to Narita Airport, they took my duty free rum that I bought at the JFK airport AFTER I went through the security check point. Can someone please explain how that is possible?! I kept my receipt so if I have the energy, I can try to get back my seven smackers, but is it worth it?

LATITUDE LONGITUDE at Tokyo Narita Airport (35.777463, 140.39085)

Still Day 1 – now it’s June 27: Connecting flight to Beijing left a little late so I got into Beijing at about 10:00pm. Took a cab from the airport. I had a piece of paper with the name of the hotel (Beijing International Hotel) with the address both in English and in Chinese. First thing you should do is have confidence that the driver knows where he or she is going and how much it will cost you. My driver got lost. The highways, just like the airport, are new and I think confusing to everyone. I saw a lot of cars stopping on the highway leading out of the airport and going into reverse to make an exit. Seemed pretty dangerous. I didn’t think too much of it until my own driver seemed to miss an exit. He told me at the beginning that it would be $100yuan. He got so lost though that I made me pay $200yuan (about $30US). I hope the drivers figure out how to get around before the Olympics start up!

I made it to my hotel, though, and that’s what matters! Very nice room. More later or on Tripadvisor.

Check out the Google Earth file for a blow by blow of where I’ve been to get to Beijing.

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