Ni hao! Kailee and Sadie here bringing you coverage from our first day of traveling! For a day spent sitting on planes, it turned out to be a good deal more interesting than expected. Our entire group succeeded in getting to the airport at or around 2 o’clock. After passing out T-shirts and information, it was a fairly painless process of checking in and hopping into the security line. While waiting there, Ms. Amy Ritchie had the chance to talk to two members of the live electro-acoustic heavy bass middle-eastern dancer band called Antique Beats. Yeah, it’s a mouthful. The two members had performed with the rest of their band at Forecastle the previous day. Their easy conversation was soon interrupted by Jack jumping out of line, frantically proclaiming that he’d forgotten his suitcase. Thankfully, he returned two minutes later after remembering that he had checked in his bag with everyone else.

Security was surprisingly not as nightmarish as expected, and everyone made it through without being groped, tasered, or put on a no-fly list. So it was a win in our books. At 3:38 someone called out, “Anyone leave a belt?” My first instinct was to look at Jack. Luckily, everyone in our group kept their trousers in place. Bullet dodged.

Julian Wright with Lexington Mayor Jim GrayJulian Wright with Lexington Mayor Jim Gray at the Louisville airport

Also traveling to Detroit was Lexington mayor Jim Gray, although his ultimate destination was Philadelphia. Ginger had a chance to talk with him (about pie) and he gladly took a picture with Julian before we decided to leave the poor man in peace.

Although the first flight from Louisville to Detroit was on a very small plane with cramped seating, Tara and I (Kailee) had the chance to talk with two very interesting women, a mother and daughter, who were on their way to Oxford in England to visit family. The mother was an artist, the daughter a writing teacher. We gave them the website address for this blog, so here is a shout-out to them, and we’re hoping England is as lovely as you remember it!

At the connection in Detroit, we went our separate ways to go grab some food. Several people ended up at a Japanese Sushi restaurant which gave some of the group a crash-course lesson in chopstick use. Jack and Brenton went around trying to give strangers high-fives while shouting, “Go Red Wings!” Some people ended up simply grabbing snacks from shops throughout the airport, knowing that a meal would be served soon after take-off.

The flight went smoothly, although it was torturously long (almost fourteen hours). The seats were just a little too small, the air was a little too cold, and Brittany ended up getting moved to a seat next to an elderly couple that didn’t speak a word of English. But there were countless movies to choose from, so the set-up wasn’t too awful. More interesting than just your basic American movies such as Clash of the Titans and The Lion King were various foreign films provided with English subtitles. I (Sadie) was able to enjoy two brilliant Korean films that greatly helped pass the time.

Ben & MacyMacey uses Ben as a pillow on the 14-hour flight to Beijing.

Many meals were served on the plane ride. Sadly, we did not receive any five star delights, though I doubt any of us expected it. Mass produced chicken and pasta dishes were hastily thrown on a tray with a small loaf of tasteless bread, cheese, crackers, and a surprisingly delicious cinnamon brownie. Later, we received a small bag with a mediocre turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, and two pretty tasty cookies to tide us over until the third meal (an easy feat to accomplish, considering it felt like we were eating the entire flight). Lastly, the brilliant chefs aboard flight 189 provided us with a choice between a beef/rice dish and a shrimp/noodle dish. Overall, the meals sufficed and no one complained too heavily…though they in no way will compare to the cuisine we will be sure to eat in China.

With most people conking out or putting all of their attention into a movie pretty soon after take off, it was a fairly quiet flight.

However, Tara ended up becoming fast friends with one of our flight attendants, a woman who much preferred to be called “Sky Goddess”. She put a light-up retainer in her mouth before taking a picture with Julian and Tara, and then she whispered, “I dare you to plank,” before laughing and saying she wasn’t brave enough to do it herself.

Bruce LiOur tour guide Bruce Li speaks to us on our way to the Holiday Inn in Beijing.

Half of us managed to get quite a bit of sleep, though the other half voiced their difficulties as we arrived in Beijing. Those who were exhausted had a pretty good set-up though, considering we headed to the downtown Holiday Inn just moments later with the help of Bruce Li, our personable guide who will oversee our adventures this week. Though we didn’t get to see much in this first night, it was interesting driving through the hectic streets of Beijing at night. We knew we were in a completely new place by views such as the cars that pull over on the side of the road by the dozens (for reasons unknown) and the delivery boys on bicycles taking late night snacks to hungry citizens.

There were many differences in the hotel rooms as well. My roommate and I (Christina and Sadie) spent nearly ten minutes trying to figure out how to turn on the lights…only to learn that you need to slide (and keep) your room key in a slot in order for the switches to work. There was also a large billboard of lit up bamboo as our “view” from the window, but the room itself was wonderful and we slept soundly.

We will update you throughout the week and we hope you enjoy reading as much as we enjoy being here!