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Thursday, March 2, 2006

I noticed that I put a place holder in the blog for Thursday, March 2.  However, I now realize that nothing is going to happen that day.  I am leaving from O’hare at noon on Thursday, but since I’ll be crossing the International Date Line, I won’t arrive in Beijing until 3:30 pm on Friday.  So this is going to be a very anti-climactic start to my blog. 

The morning has been uneventful.  Mike and I ate breakfast at Steak n Shake, and then he dropped me off at O’hare.  I got in the line for United International check-in, but when I finally got the front of the line, they told me that I had to check in at Domestic because I had an e-ticket.  So I waited in that line for awhile.  I needed the person checking me in to look up my frequent flyer number, because I didn’t know it.  This caused a problem because she was looking at my passport and it has my maiden name on it.  It took me awhile to get her to understand that my frequent flyer number was under a different name.  But finally, it was all checked in.  I was very happy to see that I have an aisle seat.  I’d prefer the window, but aisle is better than the middle of the 4 seats in the center of the 747.  There was no line at security, and I did not get searched.

At the gate, I discovered that O’hare has wifi, but it costs $7.  Since I only had an hour before boarding, I decided $7 wasn’t worth it.  

The flight was completely full – every seat on the 747 was occupied.  It was very hard to sleep because people were talking and walking around throughout the flight.  Even with ear plugs, it was too loud to sleep.  The woman in front of me was constantly shifting in her seat, causing her seatback to smash into my knees.  There was always a line for the bathroom.  In general, it was pretty miserable.  At least it was smooth.  It barely felt like we were moving at all.

The sun did not set throughout the 14-hour flight.  The cabin was dimmed in an effort to trick us into thinking it was night, but it didn’t work.   I thought it was strange that the sun never set.  I had thought that in the winter, it was always dark at the Arctic Circle.  Apparently not.  It was bright and sunny for 14 consecutive hours.  We flew over a lot of snowy wastelands - tundra and mountains that were so white that at first I wasn't sure if it were clouds or snow.  And then the mountains turned brown, and then we started to see signs of civilization.

All in all, the 14-hour flight was not nearly as bad as I had thought it would be.  We arrived in Beijing on schedule, breezed through immigration and customs, and met up with our tour guide Leon.

 Go to March 3