Well, we made it! A long flight for sure (14hrs), but no problems to speak of. We flew to Chicago early this morning and had an almost 6-hour layover before our flight to China. We got some breakfast, looked at the shops, and just sat around to pass the time...I might have had a beer or two at the Goose Island pub, for medicinal purposes :-) It was a little disheartening having this long of a wait before an extremely long flight, but soon enough it was over and we were off. We were flying United on a Boeing 777 which, while not as big and nice as the Airbus we flew to India, it was still a pretty big plane with seat-back entertainment, which helped pass the time. It looks like Manu is starting to get a respiratory infection, as he was coughing and hacking toward the end of the flight. At one point we thought he was going to throw up, but thankfully not and we didn't have to use the little barf baggies from the seat pouch. After we got off the plane he seemed to perk up a bit. We have some antibiotics for him if necessary, but we're waiting until morning to see how he is feeling; we'd like to not use them up at the very beginning of the trip if possible.
The one thing I'll say about our short time in China so far is in regards to the pollution: it is awful! As we were landing we throught that we were having trouble seeing out our window due to fog, but as soon as we got off the plane, we realized it was heavy, thick smog. Even indoors there is a stinky haze in the air. Our hotel room, which is about 40 minutes from downtown, isn't any better. You know how some hotels have bottled water, liquor, or toiletries in the room you can purchase just by using them? Well our room has 2 full-head gas mask-styled respirators. For only 180 Yuan each (about $30) you too can have all the clean-filtered air you desire while making a fashion statement at the same time. No kidding though, this is a real problem, and it doesn't take long to make you appreciate the clean air standards we have in the states.
We met our guide Angela at the airport. She seems very nice. She and a driver took us about 40 minutes from the airport to our hotel. Traffic here is very bad, and only slightly safer/more organized than what we experienced in India. It took us a while to get to our hotel, as we were held up at several train-crossings, and a fender-bender between two sedans than slowed things down; a little bit of real-life experience right off the bat!
So we're turning in early; it's about 9pm here. Leslie is out and Manu is laying beside her playing a game on her phone; I think he's feeling better. I'm calling it quits too. Tomorrow we meet Angela early and visit the Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square, and the Temple of Heaven. Should be fun, especially if the rain tonight clears the air a bit. I'll try to have some pictures for you tomorrow.
Thanks for following!