3Nations: Arrival in China

Background: A while back I said that I would try to post some diary snippets and random memories from scouting adventures in the past. 3Nations, an expedition to Mongolia and China in the summer of 2009, was possibly my biggest adventure to date. (it was originally going to include Russia, but due to airlines etc... it had to be cut it from the trip)

Wed 15th July - Thurs 16th July 2009
After leaving Lincoln at 8am, I arrived in Heathrow Terminal 5 rather excited about the forthcoming expedition. Eventually we got on the plane at about 16:30, which was later than was expected.
As we started to descend we tried to look out of the windows to catch our first glimpse of China... something that we had been waiting for for about 2 years... but for all the damn clouds are in the way!

"Katy, you going to be okay for the landing?" (she isn't particularly good in a plane)
"okay... never mind"

When people talk about the smog in Beijing, it's no lie. We couldn't see the runway until we hit it, and believe me I was looking for it!

And now we were in China! Well... after we got through: filling out customs forms on the plane, quarantine (it was the time of the swine flu after all), temperature readings, immigration, baggage claim and customs... then we were in China!

Before heading to the hotel we were treated to our first Chinese meal. All I can tell you is this. I don't have a clue what I ate, we were all tired (it was Thursday lunchtime by this point), it tasted better than the plane food, and most importantly, the head waitress woman scared the bejabbers out of me what with all her shouting and there was no way in hell I was going to not eat and potentially incur her wrath!
It's guess the food time!
Foreigners that are loud and p*ssed off... especially when they have access to your food... I generally always do what they say gesture.

Something that we weren't expecting was for everyone, and I mean everyone, in the street stopping whatever they were doing to stare at the strange white people going to the hotel.

Now for some exploring! We didn't go too far away during this initial exploration, but we did manage to find the Forbidden City... and what was good after a day traveling/exploring DINNER.
Please note the classy plastic covered table... and the vast quantities of Coca Cola. No matter what country you're in, waiters understand the phrase Coca Cola.

The international method of ordering food... point at the pictures and hope for the best!

Following Dinner we went across the road to sit by the moat of the Forbidden City, chill, and watch the bats fly overhead.
Lessons learned from today (including exploration)

  • A fist full of sleeping pills won't always get you to sleep if you're wound up about flying (sorry Katy!)
  • The green man lies- it only means that you are slightly less likely to die when crossing the road
  • Old people like to practice calligraphy on the pavement with water

  • Old couples like to sing in the subway
  • Random dumplings filled with what can only be described as "something" can be tasty after all
  • Mannequins apparently deserve their own shop
  • Beijing may have 18million people living in it, but so far they are rather good at hiding.
  • Katie Melua lies!... there are actually 10 million bicycles in Beijing!
Thanks to all those that donated photos!