Thursday, February 01 2007 @ 07:06 AM EST
Contributed by: Admin
International Hotel in Beijing, China (40.044438,116.367188
Click the LAT/LON coordinates (WGS84) for our current location
Sunny, 4C, Winds W 5 km/h
Information on our first day of travel.
We stayed at my parents place in Toronto (7 minutes from the airport) and got a airline limo to pick us up at 5:45am. The check-in went fairly well with our suitcases both being over weigh. Sandra's at 51.5 lbs and mine at 55 lbs. The lady at the check-in waived all extra fees when Sandra told her where we were traveling and what we were doing. Security check was ok and they paid close attention to the shoes I was wearing as they kept setting the detector off. They put them through the x-ray and at one point I almost thought they were not going to let me on the plane with them. We grabbed a coffee and a muffin each and took a few pictures while we waited. We met the 1 couple and a single traveling with us that would be starting the journey from Toronto with us.
The flights were long! The Vancouver flight was alright and it got us to the airport around 10:30 EST. We met the 4 other couples (the rest of our traveling group) and spend the extra few hours getting to know one another. Our connection to Beijing was late and we hit the runway at 1:45 PM EST. We got to Beijing at 4:20 AM EST. Sandra and I were able to cat-nap but were very tired on arrival. Getting through customs was no problem but we had some decisions about how to answer our customs declaration forms in relation to carrying foreign cash. We got a consensus from the group and made the appropriate changes to our forms.
We met our guide/translator Mary at the terminal in Beijing (she was the one with the CB flag). She gave us a good overview of some of the in country process and told us that we will meet the babies on Sunday at 5PM. She also organized some trips for those that came early so I should have a good set of photos for tomorrow. As for the weather, it is quite mild and there is no show in the forecast so we may have overdressed a little.
Technical details, my OpenVPN
is working excellent and I can get to everything on the internet as my connection is made back to Canada first and then out from there, thus bypassing any restrictive firewalls. The latency is low so we should be good for phone calls over the internet too. The first call we got was made using a u711 codec that is a bandwidth pig (but sounds good). With the exception of a little delay the sound quality was excellent. The hotel connection is very fast but also expensive at about $15 US/day. Hotel also transparent proxies all web communication and blocks my ability to use a my own proxy server. So, I used PuTTY
to create a local port of my proxy at home and redirected it to 127.0.0.1. Pointed FireFox/IE to that proxy and everything works without any eavesdropping.
The biggest issue that we have is that we have to fit everything we are taking into 1 piece of checked baggage each which has external dimensions not exceeding 158 cm = length + width + height AND is no more than 44 lbs. We are working to be within the more stringent limits of China Airlines. Our 2 suitcases are at the max dimensions already and weight 51 and 53 lbs as of the last weigh-in. In addition we are entitled to 1 piece of carry-on which has dimensions not exceeding 115cm (56cm L + 23 cm W + 36 cm H) AND weighs no more than 7 kg (15.4 lbs).
My camera bag (my carry-on) weighs 18.5 lbs not including my laptop, so we not starting off that well. I am carrying a lot of gear. Canon 30D w/17-40mm f4L, Canon ELPH SD800 IS, Canon 430EZ, Garmin Map60csx, Gen 4 40G iPod, Sony PSP, Sony HDR-HC1, UTStarCom F1000G, Blackberry 8700r, IBM R51 Laptop and assorted chargers and cables. Pictures and a few more detail to follow tomorrow.