It is three in the morning in Beijing, the morning after I arrived. And I am wide awake, writing! So my smugness at how I planned to avoid jet lag was unwarranted - my body defied my planning. Air Canada 29 leaves Vancouver at 12:40 pm and arrives the next day in Beijing around 4 pm. You fly almost 11 hours and move ahead 16 time zones. That meant that a couple of hours into the flight after we had been served a nice lunch and most people in the executive class cabin had reclined their seats and gone to sleep, it was really only about three or four in the afternoon Vancouver time. Although I tried to shut my eyes and doze for a bit in the latter half of the flight, I really did not sleep. By the time we arived in Beijing at 4 in the afternoon GMt + 8 hours for my chrono-biological clock it was only midnight. So I decided I would stay awake till around 9 Beijing time, sleep till 6 the next morning, and wake refreshed and in sync with the new time zone. Didn't work.
Wednesday, November 4th, Beijing
It is a sign of the times that accompanying the immigration form that was handed out on the plane to be filled in before landing, was a health form questioning the presence of flu symptoms and exposure to the flu virus. As we made our way past successive booths of immigration, health and customs people, all the airport staff were wearing masks. I wonder how effective that is.
Beijing Airport is quite stunning. I think parts of it, especially the new International terminal were built in time for the Olympics four years ago. It is absolutely huge, all shining chrome and glass and very clean. The inner airport train that leaves every 3 minutes to take you to the baggage claim area seems to go for a very long time. I wonder what the actual distance is?
I had arranged to meet Raoul, one of the dance hosts whom I originally met on the West Coast Ballroom Dance Cruise, at the Hotel Reception desk after customs and immigtration so we could share a cab to the hotel where both of us were staying. As it turned out when I talked to him to check flight times before leaving for the airport, another DAS guest Bernie was on his flight from Chicago to Beijing, and her room mate Joan would be coming in from San Francisco, so I will get to meet two of the other guests before we board the ship.
I had also connected by phone the evening before with my cabin-mate, Carol, who I previously met briefly on the Labcur Weekend Get-away Cruise, but she will only be arriving in Beijing on the day of the cruise. The baggage area is also huge and everythiing is very clearly signposted. I saw my suitcase coming and managed to wrestle it off the carousel. While I was gathering my breath to heave it on to my baggage cart, an arm reached out and before I knew it, my bag was on the cart with my duffel bag on top of it. Another gallant stranger in a random act of kindness.- see London and Languedoc Travelblogue. I smiled and thanked him.
This is a 16 night cruise within a 21 night trip. We start in Beijing and the north and sail south to end in Bangkok. The area and the itinerary are shown in the map above, from the Princess Cruise Lline web site.