Aelex’s Adoption Diary

Thursday February 20, 2003

Performing at optimum levels. Sleep not required.

  • The excitement of the 13 ½ hour plane ride was only enhanced by the view.
  • Out the window from our hotel room.
  • Brave men and women wanted to ride these bicycles around Beijing!
  • The mall across the street from our hotel. Ah, yes. Capitalism comes to China.

I now have a new definition of terror. Have you ever been on a plane for 13 ½ hours and been exhausted? Have you ever made this journey with someone who was as tired as you were? Have you ever then fallen asleep while this other person was too uncomfortable to get any? Have you then ever awoke to see this same person staring at you with such a murderous rage that you thought she was going to eviscerate you simply because you had the temerity to fall asleep while they sat their, staring at you, plotting your painful death? I have seen this. It is not a good feeling my friends.

After my fleeting brush with oblivion, I realized that my 5 hour nap had brought me 5 hours closer to the Beijing International Airport. We were almost there! All in all, I do have to say that the flight was nowhere near as painful an ordeal as I had originally imagined. The flight attendants were top notch. We made some cool new friends and my wife nearly killed me in my sleep. Nearly being the operative word. So all in all, I must say, it could certainly have been worse.

We proceeded to land and disembark the plane without further incident and slogged through immigration into the terminal to meet our prearranged tour guide. The only obstacle to the realization of this goal was about 40,000 Chinese Muslims flooding the main airport lobby in one of the most ordered, most pleasant, terrifyingly disorganized welcoming committees we have ever had the pleasure of wading through. If that does not make any sense imagine how we must feel because that is exactly what it was.

Through the mass of people we could see a sign being held aloft with our names on it. Spelled correctly! Now I don’t know about your last name but I have lived in the United States for my natural life and have never, ever had my name spelled correctly in any situation, ever. But here I am, in China for less than 20 minutes and someone who I have never met in my life is able to spell my last name correctly. I am awed and more than a little touched.

Regardless, Dorothy and I make our way over to the sign to find a person at the end of it named Bonny who is to be our tour guide while we are in Beijing. While of average stature physically, the fact the Bonny was able to fight off this throng of controlled madness and still locate us (with our name spelled correctly! I cannot stress enough how impressed I am by this.) has given her mythical and superhuman status in my eyes. As far as I am concerned, what Bonny says, goes.

After collecting our whole group (Mike, Lisa and her parents who we met on the flight over if you remember) we made our way to our tour bus to go to the hotel. Our driver, Mr. Wang, was also cooly efficient in the often chaotic drive coming right up to the edge, but never crossing the fine line that separates the living bicyclist from the flat, dead one. Bicycling in China is the about the bravest activity I have ever been exposed to in my life. I have never before seen a 100 pound man on a 20 pound bike openly challenge, and win, the right of way from a 2 ton tour bus on a busy city street.

We finally arrived at our lodgings approximately 24 hours after we left our house yesterday (or the day before, or the day before that, I really have no idea) and checked in. And I do have to say that I am quite impressed. We are staying in one fine hotel I do not mind bragging. I would tell you more right now except that I am presently in a 5 foot radius of a bed for the first time in a few days and cannot resist the siren’s song that calls me to slumber. I apologize for the lack of specifics and poor quality pictures but it has been a long trip.

Tomorrow we begin sightseeing in Beijing with our all powerful guide Bonny and the intrepid Mr. Wang. I will have better pics and descriptions in the next day or two. Now it is time fo…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…