Early on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 12 the Raleigh-Durham International Airport was littered with 24 sleepy Elon MBA and Law students and their four brave faculty and staff members; Andy Haile, Dean Dunham, Jack Hicks and Judy Dulberg. Following the standard hoops associated with air travel, and increasingly anxious energy, calisthenics and coffee, we boarded the plane to Newark. A short flight and overdose of turbulence later, we touched down in New Jersey and spent our last three hours on U.S. soil.
The group boarded the plane to Beijing around 11:15 a.m., and lifted off shortly after 12:05 p.m. – 13 LONG hours later there was once again solid ground under our feet. Once we got off of the plane, we went through Chinese customs, and got our baggage. Upon leaving the terminal there was a crowd of Chinese waiting for visitors, holding signs, including our tour guide Sheila. Sheila, a very friendly Chinese woman, is to accompany us during the remainder of our time in Beijing. She arranged for our tour bus to pick us up at the airport and bring us to our hotel.
At around 5 p.m. we arrived at our hotel. The Crown Plaza is a very nice western style hotel. It is currently decorated for the Chinese New Year with red lanterns and tassels, it has a nice open lobby, and several restaurants to choose from. Although we were all exhausted from the flight, we were greatly anticipating the welcome dinner. After an hour or so of relaxation, we piled back on the bus to head to dinner.
Peking Duck was a great welcome dinner to China. The dinner was a traditional Chinese meal with round tables that seat 10 people and had a lazy susan
in the center of the table. We had five courses that started with cold food such as cucumbers, jellyfish and shrimp. The next course was duck wrapped in a sweet pancake with cucumbers and onions. Since this was many of our first time in China the food was not what we expected, but we all tried everything at least once and made the best of the experience. As the meal progressed, while the food got better, the group became more and more restless. After being up for at least 24 hours, we were more than ready to get back to the hotel and some of us even started their sleep before the bus got to the restaurant.