The first stop on my big trip (not counting a layover in San Francisco) was Beijing.
I arrived at Beijing Capital International Airport at 4:30am. Yep, that’s not a mistake. 4:30AM. Just in time to see the sun rise from the tarmac.
Also, before I left, Calum told me half-jokingly that I was forbidden to ride on escalators during my time in China (due to a series of accidents on escalators there last year). We joked that if the first thing I had to do when I stepped off the plane was take an escalator, I would just turn around and ask to go back.
Sure enough, the first thing that I saw when I stepped off the airplane was an escalator. BUT I GOT ON!
Anyways, Mariia was waiting for me on the other side of customs/immigration. The feeling of seeing a friend again after a long time is amazing…but I’ve found that after ten minutes it is like we never were apart, which is even more amazing. What I mean is that we start talking and sharing updates on our lives as if we are just catching up after a busy week, rather than a very busy year.
We took a 45 minute taxi ride from the airport to Mariia’s friend’s apartment where we would be staying. The first two things I noticed about Beijing were the humidity and the pollution. The morning I arrived the sky was gray and there was visible brown haze on the horizon…I’m told this is normal for Beijing, and this day was nowhere near some of the worst they’ve seen.
When we arrived at the apartment, Mariia’s friend Ana (This is her English/Russian name, she is Chinese) welcomed us and made us noodles for breakfast before we left to start our day.
First stop: Starbucks, of course.
The rest of the day was dedicated to relaxation and a little bit of exploring. Mariia showed me around her school, Beijing Foreign Studies University, and I took a picture at the university entrance. We stopped by one of the small grocery stores on the edge of campus and the employees remembered Mariia from her frequent visits. We then headed to Mariia’s favorite nail shop near the campus and got mani-pedis, as we discussed before I came. 🙂
The next highlight of the day was getting a traditional Chinese massage. I honestly think this massage is what enabled me to keep pushing through the next few days despite some Jet Lag and muscle stiffness from the long plane ride. This type of massage involves every part of your body, even your hands and fingers.
By the time we got back to Ana’s apartment that day though, I was completely exhausted and I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.
More highlights from China coming soon!