My Pleasantly-Strange Trip to Beijing

I am now in Beijing. On the way (12 hours nonstop from San Francisco):

  1. Without asking, my seat was switched to one of the best seats in economy: aisle of the bulkhead row.
  2. Boarding was last rows first. So rational, so easy, no special equipment or software required. I have never before encountered this. Good work, Air China.
  3. A riveting movie, which I’d never heard of, was shown: The Children of Huang Shi, which is a Chinese Schindler’s List. In both Chinese and English, with Chinese subtitles when the characters were speaking Chinese. The best movie I’ve seen on a plane.
  4. The plane was old. Well-maintained, yes, but the film was VHS, the headphone jacks were double-pronged, and my supplied headset was broken. Maybe this is why the price was surprisingly low (about 40% less than the competition).
  5. Midflight, a fly alighted on my book (Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt).
  6. Three times I did my one-legged standing. Seeing me, two others started stretching. For the first time on one of these long flights, I had no trouble sleeping in my seat. (In the past, I’ve been able to sleep well only on the floor.)
  7. The flight was 78 minutes early. I didn’t know such a thing was possible — like the fly.
  8. The Beijing terminal (Terminal 3 at the airport), which opened six months ago, must be the biggest in the world. Nicely decorated with bamboo plants. At debarkation, a sign said we were  10 minutes from Customs. No line at Customs. After Customs, we took a shuttle train to luggage pickup. The ride — within one terminal — seemed about a mile long. I look forward to spending more time there, to study the 72 restaurants, for example.
  9. The trunk of my taxi was perfectly clean.
  10. During the taxi ride, I saw a bike rider. He was about to go from the on-ramp onto the freeway, apparently to ride on the line between lanes. It was a normal unclogged highway, with cars going 60 or 70 mph. I didn’t know such a thing was possible.

One Reply to “My Pleasantly-Strange Trip to Beijing”

  1. thanks for 6.
    For 7, the winds do make a difference.

    I am eagerly waiting to see how you are going to deal with the jet-lag when you come back stateside. It always takes me three days to recover.


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