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First Stop – Beijing

Thankfully the flight was uneventful and we landed around 3pm the next day. The customs and immigration line was huge. It took us over an hour to walk from the gate to the fingerprint scanners, then snake our way through the immigration line. We finally made it out the other side where we caught a tram to another terminal to pickup our luggage. After we got our luggage, we were met by our first tour guide, Laura who was holding a sign in Christopher’s name. We asked why she chose his name because he literally didn’t do any planning for this trip. Turns out Laura had all our names as written in our passports and ironically, his was shortest, so it was quicker for her to write 🙂

Laura and our driver took us to the Penta Hotel Beijing, which took about another 1.5 hours due to all the traffic. Laura helped us get checked in and left us for the night with arrangements to meet us again around 8:30am the following day for our first full day of the tour.

The rooms we were assigned turned out to be very beat up and run down. The carpets had rips in them and my room didn’t have any hot water for a morning shower. Eduardo reached out to our tour organizer (he knew her from a trip to China he did with his family a couple years ago so he did most of the arrangements with the same women for this trip) who fixed things up with a room upgrade for all of us the next day. The second set of rooms were much better! The even gave each of us a fruit plate for the inconvenience. Hilariously, their idea of a “fruit plate” was literally a plate with 2 whole apples, wrapped in cellophane and couple side plates with forks and knives!

Tomorrow was our first day on the tour and it was starting with a bang…the Great Wall of China!

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