I've arrived. My friend Michelle and her father, who I just call Bab, met me at the Airport. We ate at San Bao. We checked into the four star hotel, where I think my friend has arranged the maid's room for me at the deeply discounted price of 150 ¥ (Yuan), or about 20 dollars a night. That's roughly the same as 3 cups of coffee in the hotel bar. It's perfectly good, despite being far from the elevator, and having the noisiest fan ever in the bathroom, it is comfy and has a good view.
I immediately checked out the service and maintenance by plugging in my 125v rated adapter into the 220v wall socket, which caused a minor explosion and the lights to go out in my end of the hotel. Housekeepng and maintenance and a bit of trickery, and I am wired, wirelessly, here in China.
My trip started fairly ineffectively, with my sleeping through the alarm until my ride to the airport arrived. One of the nice side effects to good planning is that delays like oversleeping, are counteracted by proactive buffering of travel time to the airport, and reliable friends that show up a few minutes early.
Since I was still early for my flight, I was sitting there on the bench when Jeff Foott walked directly in front of me and sat down next to me. Jeff has been my friend since we went down the Colorado River together in 2003 with Jack Dykinga and an awesome group. I don't hear much from Jeff, but hear some of the various workshops and trips that he's doing. Jeff is a fairly notable biologist and wildlife videographer, and a great still photographer, having done some ground breaking work for the discovery Channel and National Geographic, among others.
We quickly caught up, and Jeff told me that he was on his way to Mongolia, a place he frequently has traveled recently. He has a new project with Dykinga and Justin Black which they are calling "Visionary Wild."
It was good to see him. I felt like a world traveler suddenly. Perhaps we can stay in better touch.
While standing in line for security a woman dropped her suitcase on me. Then turns out she was on my flight, and sitting across the aisle from me. She will show me around a bit in Beijing while I'm there. Says she can show me some local secrets … places a tour will never take me.