We have arrived in Beijing and with no real problems except maybe getting scammed by a couple of smooth talking helpful chinese guys - they did help us out but we ended up paying too much for the taxi. Instead of $12 we ended up paying manhattan prices ($30) oh well. We were supposed to be picked up by the hotel staff and after looking around for about a half hour, some guy offered to help - at this point we realize that english is not spoken by many people, and this guy first of all offered to call the hotel for us on his cell phone which was actually helpful (despite his scammer status). We realized we were getting scammed but then it turns out that this guy was the only one who knew where this hotel was over the next few days we were in Beijing.
On the other hand with the scammers' help we got a phone card (luci did anyway) and to the hotel which is this amazing little place called the Lu Song Hotel in a very old part of Beijing. the internet is 5 yuan per 10 mins here. The lobby is filled with wonderful chinese furnishings, and the outside of the place is very discreet. Because of its location, it was hard for most taxi drivers to find it, and we had some pretty trying times with that but I would recommend this place in a heartbeat.
The type of neighborhood we were in is called a "hutong", which is pretty much a maze of alleyways. very narrow and an unusual configuration of residences and businesses.
The word "hutong" originates from the word "hottog" which means "well" in Mongolian. Villagers dig out a well and inhabited there. Hutong means a lane or alley, in fact the passage formed by lines of siheyuan (a compound with houses around a courtyard) where old Beijing residents live. Be care not to lost in it! It was recorded that in the Yuan a 36-meter-wide road was called a standard street, a 18-meter-wide one was a small street and a 9-meter-wide lane was named a hutong. In fact, Beijing's hutongs are inequable ranging from 40 centimeter to 10 meter in wide. The longest has more than 20 turns. Either in east-west or north-south, Beijing's hutongs varied as slant, half or "
blind hutongs" cul-de-sacs. The gray-tiled houses and deep alleys crossing with each other in identical appearance like a maze.
The flight just 'flew' by no pun intended - lucis doc gave her some ambien and man did that stuff work. We slept comfortably through the entire flight, and I feel fine.
Tomorrow we plan to go to the Forbidden City, oh we can't wait. anything with the word 'forbidden' seems so tantalizing.