My flight from Guangzhou to Beijing was relatively quick, efficient and enjoyable. I had heard a few horror stories about the airlines and airports in China and I was expecting a difficult, aggravating journey. Besides a few hiccups — my lens cleaning fluid was confiscated, the flight was delayed an hour — everything went smoothly.
The plane, a Boeing 777, was far from full, allowing me to find an empty aisle to sit in. Moreover, we were served drinks and food. What U.S. airline is doing that nowadays?
I spent my first full day (Wednesday) trying to find the NBC logistics office and work space in the Olympic Area. Unfortunately, the Olympic line of the subway hasn’t opened yet, which forced me to get out on an earlier stop and walk for 45 minutes in the 90-degree heat trying to find the two places.
My shirt drenched, my body emitting a nasty funk, I finally found the logistics office and work space, my condition surely grossing out the staff. No one, however, had much time to chat. The crew here is working 24/7 to get everything ready for the Games. Only about 10% of the NBC staff is in Beijing. They tell me two chartered flights will be arriving in the next week or so.
There’s definitely a buzz in the air, especially in the Olympic Area. Security is omnipresent; there are guards on every block. Fences surround every venue. You have to have your bags checked when you enter a subway station and if you’re staying in a hotel in the Olympic Area. It’s going to take some one like Danny Ocean to sneak something through security.
I’ve taken in a couple sights already. Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden Palace, the Bird’s Nest (the Beijing National Stadium). I’m hoping to go to the Great Wall early next week to avoid the weekend crowds. Beijing is an imposing place, especially for a first timer.
Well, I’m going to take a shower now, my second of the day. Another day in the blistering heat, another shirt soaked. I thought I had over-packed but I’m now happy I brought all those extra shirts.