20 March 2012, Tuesday
Despite the renowned comfort of Qatar airways, the flight still turned out to be exhausting: spending 10 hours in total up in the air is no piece of cake. The positive side is that we were able to doze a little during the second part of the flight (Doha-Beijing), even with the awful turbulence.
The first thing that struck us in Beijing airport was the fact that we had to actually take a train to get to Arrivals and the luggage claim area. This speaks of the grand scale of the airport, which makes it look a bit empty. We then had to wait for our luggage for ages, it was so long that we were already about to say goodbye to our suitcases, imagining them travelling around the world on their own. Phew, they did arrive finally!
We took a taxi to the hotel, the address of which, written in Chinese characters, I had prudently saved on my iPhone beforehand. It took us an hour to get there and the view around the road didn’t impress us at all. It had a typical sight of Baku suburbs (even the carwashes looked the same), and only the Chinese writings on signs and walls unnaturally stood out from this familiar view. We thought that our impressions seemed a bit dull due to our tiredness, but the next day we confirmed that a lot of streets in Beijing are in fact quite uninteresting. The one-hour taxi ride turned out to be surprisingly inexpensive – only 110 yuans (about 18 USD or 14 AZN).
The Capital Hotel seemed to quite live up to its five-star-ness, starting from the magnificent interior of the hall, the large number of restaurants to suit all tastes and the impressive size (there are two adjacent buildings) and ending with the necessary little things in the room, like nail files and combs.
All we were able to do that evening was having dinner and providing ourselves with a cultural programme for the duration of our stay, with the help of three polite and friendly ladies at the hotel information desk. We booked tickets for the tea ceremony for tomorrow, the Great Wall of China tour for Friday and the Kung Fu show for Saturday. We left the remaining time to our discretion. At night we were sleeping, waking, suffering from insomnia, falling asleep again – the result of usual adaptation to time difference (4 hours) plus an enormous fatigue.