Day 1 - Beijing
I've safely made it to my hotel in Beijing. I've never been to mainland China before (save for a transfer in Shanghai).After passing through immigration, I headed to the taxi rank. The taxi driver was an utter loon. He appeared to be driving a manual gearbox, but sans clutch (or at least he didn't care about a clutch). If you've ever watched touring cars, you'll have some idea of the ride. Quite brilliantly, around 50 near-misses were skilfully kept as near-misses, with the kind of precision you'd only expect from Schumacher. The guy could have been a world champion, but he's just a crazy taxi driver in Beijing. His photo ID was a little perplexing, as it pictured a man with a full head of hair and no wrinkles. However, the chap next to me had almost no hair and skin like a prune. Hmmm.
I am rather quickly finding out what parts of the internet I am permitted to see. No facebook, no twitter, sparse Google pages, half of the video feeds don't work. As a temporary resident in Beijing, I am also not permitted to see the sky. In every direction, the haze is very, very obvious. I've never experienced anything like it first hand. Unfortunately, it means I will have to limit my time outdoors. As a climate scientist specialising in the study of small particulate matter (the exact type which create this haze), I know all too well of the detrimental effects to human health.
It's quite impressive that planes land safely in this smog. It was rather an odd feeling; knowing you're coming in to landing, but only seeing the ground around 5 seconds before the wheels bump down.
I checked in and was told that my room was still being prepared, so I ordered a coffee and got to some work in the lobby. Nothing beats a good coffee, and I always feel tired after travelling long distances.
The hotel is rather grand, and so is the room. I've never had such a spacious room in Tokyo. If they exist, they're well out of my budget! The water pressure is feeble, but apart from that, I can't complain. Unlike any bed in Japan, it looks like I'll fit in this one.
All being well, I plan on updating the blog each day with a few photos from China. I've got plugins to automatically post to twitter and facebook - I won't have access to those until I am outside of The Great Firewall this weekend. Stay tuned!