Day 1: the flight and the first day

The person that invented the term culture-shock should be shot. I expected some but not to the degree that I got it as. The flight from Christchurch to Auckland was uneventful and the country was overcast. Auckland was just as cold yet damper. We had to hang around the airport for the next 4 hours waiting for the flight. We got onto the plane 30 minutes late at (NZT)10pm we were on a Boeing 777-300 and was quite cramped, thank goodness they had a selection of movies that we could watch. I fell asleep by the time we were over the Philippines and woke up a few hours later as we were going over Okinawa Island, Japan (photos arriving on the website soon
) waking up with throbbing legs as felt as if all my blood was drained into them I had to stretch, I’m glad I do yoga as the position I got the blood in my legs to drain back must’ve looked painful to anyone still awake. The plane landed at Beijing around 5:20am (Beijing time or 10:20amNZT) the GIANT airport that documentaries have been made of is huge and smells like you walked into a room that someone smoked marijuana the night before. Smog as usual had filled the city and you cannot see from one end of the airport to the other. The high speed train takes about 2 minutes to get from one end to the other, if you had to walk it, it would take 40 minutes im sure. One of my first surprises was at 600m above sea level the temperature this early was 34degrees. The documentaries about the new Beijing airport don’t do justice. You have never seen the best underground airport until you see theirs. Everything painted different colours and is lacquered. The top of the car park is a huge garden so I didn’t expect a car park the size of the airport. First I noticed that you drive on the right side of the road; almost every street lamp is solar powered and the driving ethics are simple “lanes and indicators … optional” honking the horn is the main form of changing lanes. I also found out that all cars in china have to follow strict environmental laws, euro 4 to be exact, a lot cleaner than most cars in new Zealand and even though im 20 minutes I saw more cars and pedestrians than I would see in Christchurch in a week ½ of all cars were off the road, the have a license plate policy at the moment; even numbered cars get to drive on even numbered days and vice versa. Today was a Thursday so all even numbered license plates were on the road. I only saw 1 car that had an odd number at the end and he was pulled over in seconds of leaving his driveway. Police litter the street everywhere is neatly pressed uniforms and my host family only had to pay 1 bribe for parking illegally. I was gawked at by every third local, the Olympics were in town soon and it was as if they never seen a European before. I was able to see the national theatre. Tiananmen square and the birds nest stadiums today. I went on my first subway ride and visited a 9 storey bookstore to find a English-mandarin dictionary. It was the first day I ever had to go outside where it was warmer than body temperature, 41 degrees by mid afternoon. Not a cloud in the sky yet not being able to see the sun through the smog. In the next day or two I’ll have photos on my website and I can show you what I mean by culture-shock doesn’t do justice to what I experienced today.

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