Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day Zero PDX to BEI

As we arrived in the airport, everyone is excited and overwhelmed, talking about all the things we are going to see and experience, wondering what our hotels will be like, how we will be received and what we will spend. Initial group consisted of Niki, Lee, Stefanie, Nick, Julie, Meridith and David. A few group members were late – a source of frustration and the team was wondering if it was an omen of things to come.

In the airport waiting area we are already becoming a minority, with 3 blond girls among us we wonder if we will get stares and we wonder who we will be paired up with on the trip. The flight to Narrita was fairly uneventful, watched a few movies, slept and read the first of three books for class.

As we fly into to Narrita we are hopeful to catch a glimpse of Tokyo city but have no luck – the airport is amid farmland and green fields. It was startling how much it looked like Portland – I'm not sure what I had expected but I was not thinking it would be so green and lush. The airport is very modern and efficient as expected, with very nice art displays and fun shops with foreign goods. An interesting display of paper art and Potato magazine are very popular items. McDonald's has a shrimp sandwich and interesting local flavors, the group is highly amused.

We re-plane headed for Beijing, everyone exhausted and a little loopy. When we arrive we are instructed to wait on the plane for the health officer, who will take our temperature and clear us of the swine flu. The take our temp with a hand held thermometer to the forehead. Once on land, after the customs gate, people are randomly taken for additional testing. Arlene is taken to X-ray for further study, Zach from Michigan was held in Quarantine – taken to hospital for 24 hour observation. His professor was not informed of his whereabouts, how long he would be held or how he could be contacted. We wait at the airport for nearly 2 hours before we are informed of this. Finally make it to the hotel around 2 am. Take a quick shower then 6 hours of sleep.

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