After two flights and almost 22 hours of either being in an airport or in the air, our group finally landed at the Beijing airport safely. Once I planted my feet on the ground for the first time since being at Washington Dulles Int’l Airport, I felt somewhat sluggish, but still energetic and eager to get to the hotel. We took a bus back to the hotel, and I was surprised to notice that Beijing has a lot more green space than I could have ever imagined. The sides of highways had forests with perfectly aligned trees, and in between sides of city streets were gardens. The city at first glance looked much cleaner and nicer than I expected, but I knew going in that the air quality isn’t nearly as good as a lot of cities in the United States.
We had about half an hour to unpack in our rooms before we went to dinner as a large group. Everyone, including myself, was downright exhausted. We were seated at circular tables and food was brought out dish by dish by the servers sort of buffet-style. A lot of the food was rather unknown, so it forced us to branch out and try new things we likely would have never had in the United States. There was also a rice dish and noodles, so it was nice to see some familiar foods. Overall, it was pretty good.
Afterwards, a few friends and I went to explore the area around our hotel for a little while. We went into two malls; one of them didn’t smell so great and was kind of disappointing, but the other one was quite large and seemed to be more Americanized. On the fourth floor, there were a lot of stores one would see in an American mall, such as Nike, adidas, Jordan, and an NBA apparel store. Most of the prices on merchandise were rather similar to U.S prices after converting yuan to U.S. dollars. By 9:30pm or so, we were very tired and decided to head back. I had to really pay attention to simple things like standing up to make sure I didn’t pass out from exhaustion over this long day.
Once I got back to my room, I was really glad to just be laying in a bed. I finally went to sleep at around 10:30 pm, which was much, much earlier than the times I would go to bed over my first two semesters in college. I thought about how surreal it was that I was in China, about to see so many cool things over the span of two weeks, and was really excited to see what the rest of my time in Beijing has in store for me. I’ll be seeing the Great Wall tomorrow, how exciting!