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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Off to Beijing

When I left Wuhan and my new friends in December it was sad, but I knew I'd return in March. Today when I left I didn't know when—or if—I would see my new Chinese and Western friends. So, it was a very sad parting...all I can say it, thank goodness for email.

Britannia arrived at 10:30 with the driver to take me to the airport. Lorraine saw me off—I will miss you very much, my friend—and we began the 1.5 hour drive to the airport. Upon arrival Britannia helped me check in. Like last time, I was informed my bag was over weight. How much or why wasn't included in the request for money: 230 RMB. Britannia translated this to me and apparently my quick and loud response, while in English, to the woman who uttered these words made an impact and the price immediately lowered to 150 RMB. I knew the bag was lighter than in December when they made me pay this extortion, but decided to just shell it out and get it over with.

The flight was uneventful. And, when I landed the magical sign appeared: Laird Magee Tyler. A young woman, Amanda, held it aloft as I walked from the baggage claim area. She swept me off to the car that awaited us and we boarded and set off for the Holiday Inn in downtown Beijing. (My room looks like "anywhere USA" except for the electrical outlets....quite a change from my apartment on the university campus.)

Somewhat desensitized to driving conditions here, I use the 'don't watch' approach. I had, however, noticed our driver was, in my opinion, maintaining a proctology view of the preceding car's bumper and showed a slow brake/foot reaction to match. Rather typical, so I didn't give it much more thought. Until, that is, he crashed into the car in front of us going at about 25 MPH. Now, how many tourists can claim to have been in a car accident on the Beijing freeway at rush hour? I'm now a member of that elite club.

Having witnessed as a bystander a similar accident in Wuhan, I wondered if the response would be the same and we'd be here all night with numerous police officers. Our driver exited the car and began discussing the experience with the woman who emerged. Her car wasn't damaged much, but I could see the hood of ours took a major hit with it jutting into the air by about two feet. The whole discussion took about 15 minutes. My only worry was being rear-ended, but that wasn't a problem since the traffic came to a stand still and annoyed drivers let go with their horns to express dismay at us since we served as the cork to the traffic flow.

I was told my guide would call me tonight. I've not left my hotel room since arrival; it's now 9:00 p.m. and I've not heard, we'll see if I'm off in the morning to the Great Wall or not. Tune in tomorrow.


At 6:59 AM, Lorraine said...

You actually made it to your hotel; how fortunate. Now, remember Bob and I were in a car accident too in November, and though yours was probably more exciting during rush hour with traffic and people around (and in Beijing no less), nothing beats ours at 1:30 a.m. with no one around, a "fake" cab and no one who could speak English. This is called "making memories" and you sure have made many of them, haven't you?

At 7:08 AM, Lorraine said...

Today was a very sad day for me as well. When you left in December I knew you would be back in March, so I felt OK about that. When you left this morning I felt like I had lost a life-long friend. It's so amazing to be able to get to know someone and feel a bond in so short a time. It's a blessing and I am forever grateful that you "showed up" at Wuhan University of Technology and you stayed in our apartment building (you know we don't own it).

Nothing in this world is a coincidence, and certainly our meeting was no coincidence. I agree; thank goodness for email. You have left your mark in Wuhan and you can be proud of all you accomplished while you were here. Until we meet again. . .

At 9:03 AM, Skip said...

Cody Says,,,,Car Crashes and Colds, it is time for my heroine to come home. Cody the Cat and Skip

At 12:02 PM, maryjedgar said...

I have just exited the illustrious Santa Ana Freeway in pouring rain, with the dawning realization that I need new brakes. Your experience has made me make an appointment with my mechanic!! God thing?

At 5:28 AM, cathy said...

It is God's blessing that we meet and be friends. I miss our lunch talk. You will have to come back in the future. Remember our talks about inner Mongolia. And I am glad that you see and feel the differences of ciiies in China.


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