Seb's Big Adventure
It all started yesterday morning at about 11am, when I left Sands End in Fulham and trekked to Heathrow through the hottest July day on record. Although it wasn't particularly pleasant, compared to what was to come it was relatively cool. Following a quick transfer in Munich, I boarded the 10 hour flight to Beijing. The in-flight food was very good - probably because it was made in Germany rather than by Gate Gourmet - so I recommend a trip on Lufthansa! Flying through the night was an odd experience because nighttime only lasted about 4 hours, and to the north a dim glow of perpetual daylight revealed just how far north we were flying. The flight arced over Siberia, and along the Altai mountain belt - my study area which of course is the main reason for heading to Beijing. Some stunning views of Mongolia and the Gobi Desert at sunrise, the endless and barren landscape stretching out for hundreds of miles under a cloud-free sky. Some 9Â½ hours later and 7 hours ahead of London, we landed in Beijing after descending into a thick mist. I'm still not sure whether it was pollution or just 'steam'. The first thing I noticed on leaving the plane was the intense humidity. On passing through customs, a nice message at the airport reads, "Welcome to China. Laws are enforced fully and service friendly" - how nice. The airport is actually very modern, probably a recent project for the 2008 Olympics, and it certainly impressed me more than arriving at London Heathrow would. I made it to the hotel, which the taxi driver couldn't find even with a map and directions, but not understanding a word he was chatting I just sat back and waited for the situation to sort itself out.