Leaving DC’s Dulles International airport at 12:20pm on March 7th, the fourteen hours and 6900 miles we had to go seemed incredibly daunting. Our eleven-person group got through the plane ride mostly by listening to music, watching the movies provided, and most importantly, sleeping. Looking out the window as the pilot announced we were approaching Beijing’s airport, it still looked like we were ten thousand feet in the air in the middle of the clouds. It wasn’t until our wheels hit the ground that I realized we were in the infamous smog of Beijing. I couldn’t see any hint of a city as we landed because of the extent of the smog. We finally arrived in Beijing at about 3:30pm on March 8th. After getting through customs and getting our bags, we met the representative from CLI (the group we were using to guide us through China and our tour guide for Beijing). The CLI representative’s name was Brian, he was a twenty-four year old graduate of James Madison University who had been living in China for the past two years. Our tour guide’s name was Jack, he was born and raised in Beijing but spoke English fairly well. He always had a big smile on his face and seemed to know everything there was about the city. We all boarded the van we would be taking around the city for the next five days and drove about an hour to the hostel we would be staying at for the next five days. Our driver’s name was Mr. Lee, he was a fairly quiet man but a very reliable driver in a city which seemed to have few rules for driving.
This is the first view of Beijing we had after stepping out of the airport. Our van was very similar to the one in the picture