First Day in Beijing, China – The Kirkpatrick Report
The Kirkpatrick Report
By Al Kirkpatrick
Sunday Morning July 31, 2011
So, after lots of detailed planning, I’m finally on the road. Uneventful travel from Brunswick, GA all the way to Beijing, China. I will give a thumbs-up to Delta for their new international business class seats – as comfortable as anything I’ve experienced in the air. But the food still sucks – sigh, what are you gonna’ do?
As I said before, this is my first trip into mainland China and I really have not known exactly what to expect. Well, Beijing, at least, is not much different from New York City; The airport is new and has plenty of English and international signage – no problems there and getting through customs was quick and pleasant.
I guess I expected somewhat of a stern, even militaristic presence, but reality was nothing of the sort. I’m staying at a Marriott and it’s elegant and pretty much like every other world-wide Marriott hotel.
One of my China vendors has graciously provided me a host while in Beijing. We’ll call him “Pete” and he has a China Master’s degree in English. He is a GREAT guy and has hustled to meet my every need.
Before Work – Touring
So, yesterday we did the tourist drill and I got to see Tiananmen square, the forbidden city, a pedicab ride through an older residential neighborhood and dinner at, believe it or not – Hooters (menu, decoration, and outfits just like the good old USA). Now, fairly, “Pete” did treat me to an incredible lunch of Peking Duck (in Peking!).
As is often the case, pictures do not do the scope and beauty of this city justice – it’s an amazing place. As I said earlier, being in Beijing in not much different from being in NYC – with the significant exception that I actually feel much physically safer here!
Crime and Communication
Traffic is congested, but roadways (indeed the entire city) are very modern – except, of course for the incredible ancient parts that have been quite nicely preserved. Police presence is everywhere, but not in an obtrusive way. Apparently street crime is minimal here, and my guide indicated that I could safely walk in the downtown area pretty much 24 hours a day. Language in Beijing is not nearly the issue I expected, since most of the service personnel now communicate in passable English. At the public attractions, handbags, packages and such go through scanners – much like going to a ball game in the U.S.
My cell phone works just fine, including my Verizon 4G Thunderbolt Android – which I did not expect to be able to connect since it is not an international version. Cell phone technology here is way beyond the states. So, I’m texting and emailing pretty much like normal using the hotel Wi-Fi and even while out and about.
Food and service relatively inexpensive compared to the U.S.
The people are very friendly and gracious. On the other hand, the Chinese apparently just do not understand the idea of lining up (queuing) and it’s pretty much every person for her/himself.
Today it’s off to the great wall before boarding a plane to Dalian and tomorrow’s introduction to business in mainland China.