We spent the long weekend (Vesek Day for Kyle, Memorial Day for me) in Beijing. It was our very first flight in Asia that reminded us of our experiences with Atlanta (which you may know, are usually bad). We left home at 7 a.m. on Friday and got in bed in Beijing at 7 a.m. on Saturday. That did not bode well for Kyle's vacation. 

Things started off well enough. We got to the airport in Singapore with plenty of time to spare, even with the long, long line at Cathay. The people in the Singapore airport can be super tricky about waiting in line. Basically, they don't want to do it. So they devise all sorts of workarounds. To whit:

1. "We're with him." A single man is at the counter. A couple with a child goes and stands right next to him. Like, seriously at the counter with him. So all of us think, they must be traveling together, right? No one would be that space-encroaching while someone else was trying to check in. Then the single man checks his bag, walks away with his boarding pass, and the family steps up and checks in. They have circumvented a line of 50+ people.

2. "Just a question." Someone ignores the line and walks right up to the counter while the airline rep is checking in someone else. They just have to ask a question, real quick. Except the question apparently is, "Can you put my bag on the plane and hand me my boarding pass? Thanks."

3. "Second Opinion." A family with a child (who I think was traveling alone) is checking in. The mother apparently doesn't like her airline rep, so she walks to another counter (stepping in front of the 100+ people in line at this point). But the father stays put. So one child is traveling alone and the family seems to be monopolizing the time of two separate airline reps. 

Once we finally checked in we were told the flight was two hours delayed, but they'd work out the details in Hong Kong. So off we go to Hong Kong. When we landed, they were amazingly organized and had tables set up for each transfer destination and were handing out boarding passes. Kyle grabbed ours from the "Beijing" table and we walked to the posted gate. The first sign of things to come: we arrive at the gate and are told that the flight is delayed, and the gate's been changed.

We walk to Gate 2 and wait a while. Oops! Flight's delayed; gate's been changed.

We walk to Gate 3 and wait. The monitor says the flight is now scheduled to leave at 8 pm (we should have arrived in Beijing around 7). At 8:15 the monitor still shows a departure time of 8 pm. Hm.

Kyle goes and buys sandwiches before the shops close. I proceed to spill honey mustard all over my pants. Because I am graceful in times of trouble.

By 11:30 or so we get on the plane. The captain makes an announcement: We are not cleared to fly through Guangzhou airspace (in southern China). He's not sure why. He'll get back to us. There is much walking around in the plane. It's kind of weird. After 30 minutes or so there is much yelling in Chinese. And I mean loud and loquacious. Yes, we're all really annoyed that we're on an airplane at midnight when we should be in Beijing, but how many ways could you possibly be making that point?

Finally we take off, fly, land, and are introduced to the Beijing airport at about 3 am. Nice. After immigration and baggage claim it was 4 am. The cab line was long and much less a line than a mass of elbows and suitcases and jockeying. So we chose to go straight to our hotel, because we weren't getting anywhere before morning anyway. 

We finally get in a cab. Between the two of us, a sketch map our hotel had emailed us, and a cab driver who didn't speak English but was a good sport, we found the right neighborhood by 4:50 am. We abandoned the cab and proceeded on foot.

We found the hotel by 5:00 or so, but couldn't get in. Called the office at 5:30 (we'll let you know how much that cost when we get Kyle's cell phone bill!), found the office by 6 am, and got checked into a room by 7.

Our first morning in Beijing saw us passed out in bed. Nice.

My camera says this was taken at 5:09 am. About this time I put the camera away for its safety and my own.