Our China adventure continues as we transition from Hong Kong to mainland PRC by flying to Beijing. Here is how Disney describes the day:
Continue your exploration of China in its lively capital; where teahouses and temples coexist with marketplaces and high-rises. From Beijing’s ancient architecture to its most innovative modern buildings, its extraordinary cultural scene to the enticing food choices. this bustling city beckons the senses to take it all in. With a story that goes back 3000 years, Beijing isn’t just the political center of China, it’s the cultural heart of the country too, complete with many of the nation’s top artists, writers, movie-makers and musicians. Later, you will dine at Duck de Chine, one of Beijing’s most popular restaurants, where you can try one of the local specialties, Peking Duck.
To be honest, today was really a travel day, but I was impressed with how smooth everything was. We were asked to have our luggage at the door by 8:00 am, so following that we went to the buffet again for breakfast.
The group was set to meet at 9:30, so following breakfast, we were able to return to the room for a bit and ensure we had everything that we needed. We then headed back to the lobby where Christian and Bruce met us once again.
On the way, we were given a few logistics. Since this was technically an international flight, we would have to check ourselves in at the ticket counter. Our luggage would be waiting there for us and we would grab it and do the normal airline process. Since Beijing airport is notorious for delays, the guides would have envelopes with Hong Kong Dollars so we could buy lunch in the terminal, just in case the flight was delayed. We were told to also keep an eye on the gate, as gate changes were also quite frequent. And finally, we were scheduled to check-in to the hotel first, but the guides decided it would be best to have dinner first so that, once we got to the hotel, we could relax for the rest of the evening.
Once we got to the Hong Kong airport, the process was exactly as we were told. Joe had our luggage and we checked ourselves in. We then had to go through immigration and turn in our exit cards. After that, we were free to explore the airport. While we had been warned that lunch may be late, I was still full from breakfast so I decided to go to the Hong Kong Disneyland store inside the terminal. I may have spent my lunch money at the store, buying some 12th anniversary Tsum Tsums.
We were instructed to check for our gate about an hour before our flight. As it turned out, we would need to take a train to another part of the terminal. Once we got off the train we proceeded down to the end of the area. We all thought it was a bit funny that the gates went 69, 71, then 70. Around gate 63, I found another Hong Kong Disneyland Store, which I was ethically-bound to enter.
I guess it was a bit of a shock as our flight was not delayed. It was a tad weird to learn the Chinese air regulations. For example, cell phones have to be off even as you board and can never be turned on, even in airplane mode. The in-flight video presentation features a weird mix of a documentary about the NBA Finals, a food-feature on Barcelona, and something about the history of mail carrying.
For lunch, we had a choice of beef with rice or chicken with rice. They both came with a salad and fruit. The weirdest thing was the in-flight beverage service where you had a choice between warm water, warm Pepsi, or warm Seven-Up. It was also interesting that, as we began the initial descent, the flight attendants were in the aisle and bowed.
Once we landed, we took airstairs down to the tarmac. There were two buses that would be headed to the terminal. Christian wisely had us wait for the second bus which looked a lot more comfortable as people really packed themselves into the first bus. Once we got to the terminal building, which was not a quick process, we made a potty stop before heading through immigration. While friendly, this was not a formality. The agent really checked out every detail of your passport and visa. We even saw some people (not in our group) be turned away. We then went to the baggage claim area, but our luggage was already claimed for us. We had to scan our passports on turnstiles before we exited into the public area of the terminal, where we once again met-up with Joe. We then gave the guides our passports so they could check us into our new hotel.
We hopped on the bus to head to our dinner. Christian mentioned how quick and smooth the process was as there had been many cases of flight delays or long lines at immigration on other trips. We then found ourselves at “1949- The Hidden City” dining and nightlife district. It had a hip-urban vibe while still being authentically Chinese. The entrance to the restaurant was an art gallery displaying Chinese art.
Dinner was served family style and featured more courses than I could count. The headlining item was the Peking Duck. Following dinner, we could enter the kitchen to see how the duck was prepared and then cooked in a wood-burning oven. Of course, we were also given our pin of the day, which did not feature Donald.
We then went to our new hotel, the Rosewood Beijing. This hotel had a much more modern look than the classicly styled Peninsula Hong Kong, but it still had many Chinese influences. When we arrived, we were given envelopes with our room keys and maps of Beijing. As we entered the room, we quickly realized that it was huge. Every room was a suite, with a bedroom, a sitting room, a dressing room, and a huge bathroom with both a shower and a tub. Many of my fellow adventurers said that they would be happy to move in. Also, the view was spectacular with the Beijing skyline and all the hubbub down below. After a day of traveling, we were ready to get some rest so we would be ready to see the sights Beijing has to offer.