Friday, August 14, 2009

July 22, To Beijing

The next morning my family was in China, things went well enough, we ate the complimentary breakfast, which had both Western and Chinese style items, and was actually not half bad.

Then we checked-out, loaded our stuff into the van, and headed to the Hongqiao Airport of Hangzhou. We arrived at about 9:30 which was actually PERFECT timing. The solar eclipse for that day had begun at 8:41, but that was just the starting overlap. By 9:30 things were beginning to get slightly dimmer, and by 9:35 it was beginning to look like early evening. And then at 9:41, the moon completely blocked out the sun and it was dark as night. Everyone was shouting and ooing, and I have to say, it was actually a LOT cooler than I thought it was going to be. The sky had been a bit cloudy that day, so the pictures and videos taken with my camera may not be very good, but because of the clouds, we were able to look reasonably directly at it without burning our retinas. It lasted about 5 minutes, and then there was light. And the crowd that had gathered outside the drop-off point at the terminal dispersed and went about their day.

In case the video wasn't very clear:

Dark out...

And a few seconds later.

Lots of people taking pictures

A couple familiar faces in this one

On a side note, as a bit of a surprise, while I was at the airport, I bumped into my school's leader. He noticed me and called out to me and said Hello. Not a big deal, but China is a huge place with LOTS of people and it's always an interesting surprise for me to unexpectedly run into someone I know here. Especially when I'm not in my "hometown."

So, we got our tickets and checked the luggage with no problems, and had about 90 minutes to kill before our flight. Our flight began boarding a bit late, about 10 minutes before the scheduled takeoff, but that can happen from time to time I suppose. The real problem was the waiting after we were already on the plane. The flight was scheduled to leave at 12:20 and land in Beijing at 2:20. We finally landed at 4:00 spending nearly 2 hours on the plane AT the gate with the AC having problems, and then another not quite 2 hours in the air. The others were rather frustrated with that flight, and they should've been especially considering they were still feeling jetlag from arriving the day before. I wasn't as frustrated as I could've been, but that's only because I have one slightly more frustrating... no, one extremely more frustrating flight experience while traveling American Airlines on one occasion... but that's a different story.

We arrived in Beijing and hopped on a van to the hotel. Uncle Jack did a really great job selecting the hotel as it was really nice, and I'll have a video of it posted soon. Our dinner outing was delayed a bit by some heavy rain, but it didn't last for too long and we went out not long after.

We found a Japanese restaurant not far from the hotel. The reason we went to the Japanese restaurant and not a Chinese restaurant is because the sign said (in Chinese) something that translated to unlimited Japanese buffet. When we sat down, but found that it was not actually what one would call a buffet, but WAS, after talking with the waitress at length in Chinese, an unlimited servings deal. Basically you would sit down around a hibachi grill and you just order anything and everything you'd want off the menu, then they'd bring it out and the guy would cook it right there for you. If you wanted more later, you could order more. You paid one flat fee and the food was unlimited and you did choose it yourself. It just wasn't a typical, get up grab a plate and pick stuff off a bar situation. It was really delicious though.


  1. I feel your pain about being stuck on the plane, especially with A/C problems. It happened to me in a prop plane to Miami. It was completely booked up, loud as hell, and the A/C was basically just circulating warm air. When we finally got off I was soaked in sweat and completely drained from just sitting there and that was only waiting for about an hour. On another note that eclipse was amazing.


  2. that eclipse was amazing. I did experience an eclipse when I was like 10-11 years old but after looking at your pictures, mine was only a partial eclipse. It got dusk looking and very eerie at like 11:00 in the morning but it was not a black out like yours was. THAT is weird!! Makes you SO appreciate the sun!!!!!!!!
    Keep up the good work with the blog. Love the pics too!!