Finally finished the long journey to Beijing last night: Twelve hours from San Francisco to Narita (Tokyo) Airport, a three hour layover then a four hour flight into Beijing. This usually isn't so bad (it's twenty-two hours to India), but my SFO -> NRT flight was in coach and ANA has THE SMALLEST economy seats in the world. I would complain but the ANA stewardess are pretty stern - Not good to get on their bad side at the start of a ordeal.
Actually saw some new things at my layover in Tokyo. They have finally upgraded and expanded Narita, adding several gates to the International terminal and rearranging the airline lounges. Not that there is anything new to do; While Tokyo is a wonderful and fascinating metropolis, it has one of the boringest airports anywhere in the world (especially compared with Singapore or Kuala Lumpur). You sometimes feel that you could change the signs at Narita and it would look at lot like John Wayne in Orange County (Not to be confused with the return of Opus and Bloom County).
Finally arrived into Beijing late on Sunday and was greeted by Beijing's bleak winter. If you ever think that Columbus or Detroit is grey and cold in the wintertime, you need to come to Beijing. Between the communist-era architecture, expansive use of polished marble and perchance for oversized marching grounds, it is hard to separate the sky from the ground at times. Adding 10 degree temperatures and strong winds, doesn't help either. At least I got a decent limo from the hotel to pick me up; Beijing taxis are incredibly dangerous. The driver actually spoke a little english, so I got him to give me a tour of the some of the renovations that the Chinese government is undertaking to prepare for the 2008 Summer Olympics.
I am here for the week and we are still arranging our Great Wall trip. I'll have more on that later.