We arrived in Beijing at about 3 PM local time, May 8th (we lost a day when we crossed the International Date Line). Our flight was VERY LONG! — almost 12 hours from San Francisco. It was slow going through customs, but we met our tour leader (Zhao, pronounced Jau) after we left the baggage area. Unfortunately we had to wait for another couple (who never showed up). We finally left the airport at about 4:45 and headed for our hotel (the Ritz-Carlton Beijing) and arrived at about 5:30 due to traffic. A few notes about the condition of things here, considering that Beijing is hosting the Olympics in August: the airport terminal is brand new and gorgeous; the highways we took into the city also seem brand new AND they are decorated with roses and other flowers (very nice!). Signage is everywhere and is in both English and Chinese.
Our hotel is also new (it opened in November) and is positively beautiful and elegant. Our room is tastefully decorated and very classy. Because it is simply too late to do anything in the way of sightseeing, we are just going to crash this evening and begin the important stuff tomorrow. Till then…..