China Visit, May 2016: 1

May 2016 China Update No 1: by Tricia Johnston

Well, I’ve just arrived in Beijing and already it has been interesting – the taxi driver took me to the wrong hotel! It was a Novotel and the SCCG reps don’t stay in Novotel hotels! He assured me it was the right hotel although my booking was for the Pentahotel – they aren’t the same by quite a few pounds per night!

As it turned out the two hotels were near by one another so, having walked round with my luggage, I am now in the coffee lounge of the correct hotel awaiting my room being cleaned. The official check-in time is 2.00pm but they are going to have it cleaned and ready for me by 11.00am, which is much appreciated. Meantime, I’m in the coffee lounge typing this and listening to absolutely awful music being piped in. One of the singers being in tune would be a nice bonus. The flight from Amsterdam was very good apart from 2 things – it was freezing cold and the crew were grumpy! I’ve been on previous flights were it has been cold for periods of the journey but this was freezing from start to finish. The young woman next to me had her hood up and her blanket up over her nose, all you could see were her glasses. She looked as if she was on an Arctic expedition. The plane was an Airbus 330 and it was very impressive (if freezing!) with a bit more legroom and very nice food – beef, vegetables and rice for dinner and beef noodles for breakfast – yum, yum.

Security at Beijing Airport has noticeably increased. In the ‘Nothing to Declare’ Customs channel bags are put though a security scanner and as people are arriving at the airport they are checked for evidence of contact with explosives. Not sure if that is in response to a specific threat or just a general tightening up.

Even although I was coming in from the airport around 8.00am on a Sunday morning the roads were still pretty busy. There are lots of roses in bloom along the roadside even although the ground is looking very dry.

Today will be a quiet day, resting and trying to get over jet lag before meetings start in earnest. A short walk in the early evening and the streets and roads are as busy as ever. Top-knots (man-buns) are obviously making a comeback in China as I’ve seen quite a few young men sporting them.

This going to be short and sweet as I need to try and catch up with some sleep. Speak to you later. Best wishes, Tricia