Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Saturday 11-17-12

We arrived in Beijing exactly as scheduled after a very long but rather unremarkable flight (l never like when doctors use the word unremarkable especially when talking about your kid) but it seems fitting here. We were auspiciously seated a row in front of the other family going to the Gaoyou orphanage, mother Susan and 12 yr old daughter Rebecca. Thank goodness we all opted for Economy Plus at the last minute when we got that taunting email luring us to upgrade before checking in. Jemma sat with Rebecca the whole flight and the two bonded instantly and have been joined at the hip since. Maybe it's that they were both at the Gaoyou orphanage, maybe it's the big sister little sister relationship, maybe it's the iPhone apps or probably a bit of all of the above. We all started sniffing as we got off the plane because heard about the distinct smell of Beijing, but all we could smell was airport with a touch of Chinese food. It is a humongous airport and pretty cool looking - they did a lot of building for the Olympics and if you remember that opening ceremony and the bird's nest stadium you can imagine how cool the airport design is. We were met by the BLAS guides and brought together with a few of the other families on this trip. We have people from Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey, Idaho, Tennessee, Utah, Los Angeles and Denmark - we all have different dialects, religions and lifestyles but we all have one thing in common - adopted Chinese daughters (and one son.) As soon as we exited the airport a generous waft of pollution embraced us - and that is the distinct smell. China still uses 70% coal and there are no smog emissions on the insane amount of cars on the road (not to mention the insane drivers!) The Lido Hotel was once the cat's pajamas so we are told, but it's clear they've done little to uphold that reputation. Despite the wear and tear it has some terrific amenities. A fabulous pool - someone likened it to a mini version of the Getty Villa - a real bowling alley (we didn't play), beautiful shops, lots of restaurants of every nationality - Indian, Thai, American, and even an authentic Irish Pub. Oh, and let's not forget a Starbucks, although who needs it when the breakfast buffet has such excellent espresso coffee. One of the cool things about traveling in China is that all the hotels include a huge international buffet breakfast. I remember from the time we adopted Jemma that these breakfasts are not only some of the best meals you get but also some of the most relaxing. They last about two hours and its a time for people socialize and just fuel up for the day ahead. The Lido is no exception and although they have made to order omelets and Belgian waffles, it makes me very happy to start my day with vegetables and rice.

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