Friday, November 19, 2010

Where in the World is Jim?

This is another post that has been a long time in the making. I was recently in China for a three-week business trip. I spent the first week in Shanghai, the next week in Beijing, and the third week back in Shanghai. For those of you following along at home, that means I spent four straight weekends traveling. My trip started early one Saturday morning with a two-hour flight on United Airlines from RDU to Chicago's O'Hare International. The 14-hour flight from Chicago took an arctic route to Shanghai Pudong International. The next Sunday, I flew Shanghai Airlines from Hongqiao International to Beijing Capital Airport. The Sunday after that, I flew Air China from Beijing back to Shanghai Hongqiao. The flights between Shanghai and Beijing were around two hours each. The following Saturday, I left Shanghai Pudong for the trip back to Chicago and then on to Raleigh. Grand totals over the three weeks include four legs, six flights, five airports (RDU, ORD, PVG, SHA, and PEK), three airlines (UA, FM, CA, all Star Alliance members), around 36 hours in the air, and 16,750 frequent flier miles.

During my trip, I found out interestingly enough that the PRC blocks access to Blogger. That gives me a good excuse for not posting for several weeks, although three weeks of seemingly endless meetings are a much better excuse. I know now that Blogger allows posting via email which circumvents the block in China. However, I would have had to have set that up beforehand if I had known. It is still a good thing to remember for any future trips to the People's Republic.

I am not one to take pictures, so there will not be a slide show accompanying this post. I do not own a camera, nor did I take the opportunity to purchase one while I was in China. While in Beijing, I got one day to play tourist. I stayed at the Loong Palace Hotel which is on the outskirts of in Beijing. I booked a tour with an English-speaking guide through the hotel concierge. The first stop on the tour was one of the Ming Tombs. There are several different tombs around Beijing. The particular one we visited was Chang Ling. The tour did not include the underground tomb itself but the outlying buildings and structures.

After our visit to the tomb, we stopped by a government-sponsored jade "museum" which was really more of a giant store that offered a variety of jade jewelry, statues and other objects plus other goods including paintings, silk, and Chinese fans. While there, we had a traditional Chinese meal which involves a round table with a Lazy Susan in the middle containing many different dishes. I had a few such meals while I was in China. You either get use to people grabbing food with their chopsticks as the dishes go by or you go hungry.

After lunch, our bus made its way to the Badaling section of the Great Wall. The Great Wall is as impressive as advertised. It is also very crowded. The Great Wall stretches through hills and mountains. At Badaling, cable cars go about halfway up the side of the hill. After the ride in the cable car, the rest of the way is on foot. The tour guide described the journey to the top as heroic, although she passed on the chance to be heroic that day. Stairs of various heights and depths, inclines of various angles, and a mass of people made getting to the top and back down interesting to say the least. However, the trip was definitely worth the view.

As one would expect, the topic of my next post will be the beer that I had during my stay in China.

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