China Vacation: Days 1-2: Travel to China

November 26, 2013

My day started very early but didn't feel burdensome. It was necessary for me to catch the first flight out of Orlando to New York to give me ample time to catch my international flight to Beijing. However, the end result was a 7 hour layover. 
I arrived at JFK with no problems, other than finding a place to wait until I could check my bags. Fortunately, a warm cup of coffee, doughnut and a chair next to an outlet proved my comfort and a few hours flew by. Luckily, the airline began checkin 4 hours before departure, and I was able to drop my bag off, obtain an aisle seat, and grab a bite to eat. 
It was at lunch I met Reese; an international businessman living in the Philippines, originally from Perth, wife from Laos, on his way to Jamaica to conduct mineral prospecting for gold and copper. Nice guy with a good personality for someone who had been traveling for more than a day at this point. He taught me the finer details of Aussie rules football vs. Union.
We boarded the plane on time and took of with great ease. The staff were very nice and the plane was comfortable. Unfortunately for me, I couldn't fall asleep initially as planned. I was up for more than seven hours of the 13.5 hour flight before I drifted off. I slept on and off for about three hours before the second meal was served.
We landed on time and we're able to get through immigration, get our luggage, clear customs and meet our tour guide, Frank. It was at this point I remembered what it was like to travel in tour groups; one of the minuses being having to wait for everyone. Two passengers had to be wrangled from the baggage carousel as the 22 of us continued to wait. Fun times.
The hotel wasn't too far from the airport, and we did run into stop-and-go traffic on the interstate, which was initially surprising. Later I'd find out that 20 million people live in greater Beijing, which in context is nearly the entire population of the state of Florida.
My room is great and much larger than I'd expected. I have a corner room that looks out over the street and the courtyard of the temple with which the hotel is located in. After I showered and laid down to sleep, my stomach began to rumble. Sleep prevailed.

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