Thanks to Blogger's 'pre-schedule' function, I will still be posting a little during my 10 day absence, albeit as an absentee.
To say I'm happy about missing a week of forecasted rain in Canberra, for a much sunnier Beijing is an understatement :)
One of the best things about this trip is the group of us who are traveling together. We're all very different, and a great mix of personalities. Our group:
- Myself. Female, well traveled, organised, good at planning but terrible at navigating, pushy and decisive. Most looking forward to shopping and sight seeing.
- Member #2. Female, well traveled, speaks fluent mandarin (she is therefore our most valuable group member), easy-going, quiet, timid. Most looking forward to eating and sight seeing.
- Member #3. Female, limited travel, a "princess" who doesn't like dirt, fussy eater, loves to party. Most looking forward to shopping and eating/drinking.
- Member #4. Male, first time overseas, is stressed/worried about small details, very absent-minded, unresourceful, quirky, Chinese in appearance but speaks no mandarin. Most looking forward to "I don't know. What?"
As you can see, we're in for a wild ride. We are all colleagues at work, and our other colleagues can't wait to hear the stories about our encounters together. There have been many quips about such things as "Four of you are going, but three will return", "Take photos if member #4 ends up in hospital", "How are your group members going with preparations? What about member #4?", "Make sure member #4 doesn't get arrested", "Make sure you look after member #4, don't loose him" and "I can't believe you're going with member #4".
We divvied up responsibilities:
- Myself: planning/organisation. Printed out tips and recommendations of where to go, how to get there etc and maps. Chose and booked flights, buses, hotel.
- Member #2: Official translator and interpreter.
- Member #3: Responsible for researching and mapping out shopping locations and bar locations. Proved to be reliable, and also took over Member #2's initially assigned job of researching places to eat.
- Member #4: We struggled with this one, and settled on 'source of entertainment'.
Random facts about Beijing:
- On an average day, the air pollution levels in Beijing are nearly five times above World Health Organization standards for safety.
- There are lots of Mr and Mrs Wangs. According to the city’s official census in 2006, the most common surname in Beijing is Wang, a name shared by 10.35% of the population.
- The city is considered to be a bicycle capital of the world, with entire parking lots dedicated to bikes alone.
- Beijing Airport is the 2nd busiest in the world, and the busiest in Asia.
- The Beijing Olympics were the most expensive in history; they are estimated to have cost 40 billion dollars.
- The Subway is notoriously crowded, you may feel like a human sandwich inside and you may have to line up to get on.
- Tiananmen Square is the largest public plaza in the world.
I hope to be able to share many funny examples of Engrish upon my return :-)