Holy crap. So apparently proxies in China aren't enough to access blogspot.. the Great fireWall of China needs to be VPNed around. But after two hours of playing around with it, I now have a successful VPN connection, which means I can update this. It's now 3:30 AM, so I will make this somewhat brief.
We started out in Hartford, but our flight kept getting delayed.. it ultimately ended up leaving two hours later. I saw Jim Monahan at the airport though trying to get on the same flight; that was cool, although he didn't make it on. Supposedly a ground stop at O'Hare caused the delay, but I later overheard one of the stewardesses saying that wasn't actually what had occurred.
It still gave us over an hour at O'Hare; for more reasons I don't understand, we didn't fly business class, but rather economy. It was okay though; I was medicated and slept most of the flight, chatting occasionally with the Chinese woman who was bringing her son from Lincoln, NE to see his grandparents for the summer.
We got in earlier than expected, at around 10:30 PM, and were swept through customs, a body heat reader (to ensure that no one coming through has Avian flu), followed by a meeting with Josh. He was very friendly; it was nice to meet him! He got us a cab, as it seems that most of the Chinese here speak little to no English, and the cab driver got very irate because there was not enough room in the trunk for luggage and he wanted us to take it in a separate car. Josh talked him into letting us bring a lighter bag up front, but the guy was very loud, and seemed a little PO'ed. And his driving... it reminds me of stories I've heard from Saudi.
As we rode in the cab, I thought of what the woman next to me on the plane had said to me about the pollution in Beijing, and I have to say, we are lucky in the states. Here it seems to hang low and heavy; I've never seen anything quite like it. By no means is what I've seen of Beijing so far a hellhole, but it's interesting to observe that while the city is quite modern, the manufacturing that comes with the technological updates seems to have caused quite a bit of damage to the air quality.
We made it to the hotel at around 12:30 AM, but were turned away. The hotel owner had not realized that we were foreigners, and here in Beijing, possibly all of China, you need a special license if you want to have foreigners to stay. It was okay though; while Josh went off to find another hotel, Tom grabbed up drinks, and I amused my self with two white, probably feral, kitties hanging around outside.
A much nicer cab driver came, and Josh escorted us to the Home Inn, which accepted us and is quite comfortable. There was a drunk man sleeping in the restaurant downstairs on a bench with a bunch of beer bottles in front of him; I guess he had his own little party tonight.
I enjoyed a shower when I got in, and things are winding down now. I haven't seen much of Beijing yet, but we will be going to The Great Wall and probably finding another, more inexpensive hotel tomorrow.
Everything has been pretty smooth so far, all things considered, and I can't wait for the morning!