One Less Duck in Beijing
turbotodd 100000388Y Comments (2) Visits (2451)
I arrived in Beijing sometime around 2 PM local time yesterday. I'm not sure what time it was in back in the U.S.
After my first haggling...err, shopping expedition...to the Hong Qiao Pearl Market, and hence my first real experience with Chinese currency (the Yuan, or Renmimbi, for short), I've concluded that it's easier to compute conversion ratios than time zone shifts.
Of course, it was a miracle I could compute anything after about 20 something hours with no sleep, save those couple hours somewhere over the Arctic Circle (I missed the North Pole!)
Man was not meant to shift time zones, no matter how many Yanjing beers he consumes to try and lesson the melatonin fluctuation.
But by the time I arrived at the mammoth Beijing Capital Airport, it was all about the adrenalin: New continent, new country, new language....duty free!
Here's all you need to know about the Beijing airport: Meet George Jetson, his daughter Judy, their boy Elroy -- combine the Jetsons motif with a large dose of Chinese Communist Party coordination and efficiency -- and you're well on your way to understanding Beijing Capital Airport.
I've also never seen as large an airport in my life (not Heathrow, not JFK...).
The place was so mammoth I started to wonder if I was going to have to schedule a puddle jumper flight to retrieve my and my colleagues' luggage somewhere further into the province of Beijing Baggage Carousel 37.
Fortunately, the people movers (more Jetsons) got us there in relatively good time, and it was a train that finally took us to the province where our luggage was.
So, I think the airport situation is going to be just fine for the Olympic Games later this year.
As for the ducks, well, they're not faring so well.
I suspect that being a duck in Beijing is kind of like being a head of Angus cattle on a cattle ranch outside Fort Worth. All may seem well in the world up until that moment where the nice man with the funny looking hat shows up with a very large blunt instrument and....
But I don't mean to scare you. One really ought not come to Beijing and not have the classic Peking Duck.
We made our requisite duck stop at the "Roast Duck Restaurant" near the Beijing Hilton, and we were far from disappointed.
Between the sauce, the pancakes and the duck, I could hardly regret not instead ordering the stir fried bullfrog, which of course I can always pick up back at any American fast food joint.
Finally, my first impression of the city of Beijing: Uh, big. Really big. Like bigger than I could have ever imagined. And getting bigger all the time.
In fact, I suspect if China had a real-time GDP LED indicator ticker in Tiananmen Square, it would have moved up at least a half a percentage point during the brief time my colleagues and I have been on the ground, things are growing so quickly here.
In fact, I'm pretty sure they built a new office building across the street from my hotel here overnight, but can't say for sure.
The city is also nothing like I imagined it. Never having been here before Beijing's renaissance growth, of course, I have nothing to compare it to.
But between the freshly tarred freeways, the ever present construction cranes, the ubiquitous high rise commercial and residential buildings -- well, it kind of reminds me of Las Vegas during its own recent boom, except the Beijing traffic is actually worse, the signs are in simplified Chinese, and Beijing actually has some greenery that doesn't also include sand traps and a nineteenth hole
Of course, if you're a duck, well, the only advice I can give you is to create a distraction, waddle like crazy, and try and find yourself a really good bullfrog disguise.