China in 65 Hours or Less
I had heard so many mixed things about traveling to China that I had no idea what to expect. From start to finish, Beijing amazed and spoiled me. I adored the chaos, motion and mix of ancient and modern. It was quite clean and everyone was friendly. My hotel felt luxurious (despite a super cheap room rate by Western standards) and I could always find something tasty to eat. The one important thing to realize: you take your life in your hands every time you get in a car, taxi or cross the street.
The flight over was unremarkable and I was able to sleep probably about 5-6 hours. This was wonderful because I was looking at about five hours of meetings straight after arriving. From touchdown on, my life centered on caffeine, caffeine, caffeine. After the meetings, I had an early dinner and climbed into bed before 8pm.
Halloween was my main day there. I had press events from morning until night. If I've learned anything while working with exhausted pro athletes after a race: bring loads of hot coffee.
And a little for myself to stave off jet lag throughout the events.
The day ended with a simple (but tasty) dinner with the group. We had ideas of going to a recommended Peking duck place but by the time all the events were over, we were too exhausted to do anything but eat at their hotel. By 9pm, I was walking back to my hotel and taking in the massive Beijing skyline.
I was supposed to have a day of events on the 1st but everything got canceled and I ended up with an unheard of tourist day. This literally never happens in my work, so I ignored the fact my foot was in a boot and took in as many of Beijing’s sights as I could cram into an afternoon.
I loved every twist and turn. I took in the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. I wish I had more time at the Forbidden City; this could easily take a day in itself. I was completely enthralled by it and for anyone visiting Beijing, start there.
It was a minor adventure getting home from the Forbidden City because of Beijing traffic. The first cab I got in tried to charge me 100 yen to go three miles, which was absolutely absurd. So I got out (he made sure he turned around and put me in the wrong direction/wrong side of the road before letting me out: see above note about the dangers of crossing the street) but then I found a new cab and was on my way. Twenty-six yen later and I was at the hotel. My foot was throbbing, so I took a tub and iced it before heading to dinner at the crazy hour of 6:20pm. I ordered what was the seasonal specialty - the tasty hairy crab and another early night to bed.
I got up early, snuck in some simple yoga and was on my way back to the airport, less than 65 hours since arriving.