Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2010 Asia Trip, Beijing Day #1 Morning

I'm back in Beijing for the third time in the past couple of years: 2008 with NewSong NOC, 2009 with my family, and now by myself. Actually, this is my 4th time here... I came for two weeks and gave some finance seminars back in 1998. It took about a minute to connect to the VPN this morning... I thought I was cut-off behind the GFW.

The flight last night from Hong Kong to Beijing arrived early. The schedule said the flight was 3 hours and 30 minutes but in reality it was only 2 hours and 35 minutes. I know airlines sandbag their schedules so they don't appear late but the pad seems to be much larger for China flights. There weren't too many arriving flights so I was third in line for immigration and my bag was already on the carousel when I got to baggage claims. My friend was there to pick me up and she drove me to the hotel. She is still a new driver and not very good with directions. Even though there was little traffic and she drove slowly, it was a pretty scary ride. One time she stopped in the middle of the 2nd Ring Road to read the overhead direction signs, then cut across two lanes to take an exit. Maybe drivers here expect that sort of stuff but I thought we were going to be rear-ended several times. Sigh... she offered me to drive when we left the airport but I think that's probably a worse option.

Check-in at the hotel took awhile even though I was the only person there. First the girl behind the counter spoke really quickly and mumbled so I didn't know what she was saying most of the time. Since I am staying 5 nights, I paid RMB198 for a "gold card" that gave me 12% discount and free breakfast. It's supposed to be cheaper and I was too tired to verify but I just check the math this morning and it doesn't seem to add up. Anyway, after 10-15 minutes, I finally got my room key and found that they didn't clean the room after the last guest. We call down to the front desk and after 20 minutes, some guy and one of the security guards came up to clean the room. Typical of China, he kept saying that the room was cleaned after the last guest and someone must have used the room, while giving me a suspicious look.

View Larger Map

The hotel is located next to a Walmart and the room is really really small. There is basically just enough room for a bed and the entry doubles as the bathroom area. At least there is a sitdown toilet. It's also supposed to be a non-smoking room but in cheap hotels across Asia, that's more theory than practice. The bedsheets are okay but the room definitely smells of smoke... either from previous guests that ignore the no smoking sign or from the room below.

Hotel room. I'm standing against one of the walls using the widest lens setting on my camera and still can't get the entire room into the frame.

Shower and toilet. At least there's a divider so the toilet doesn't get all wet after each shower.

View outside my window. I think this is facing west.

I'm staying because my friend made the reservation. I'm not 100% sure but I think I'm paying ~RMB300 per night which is more than the Shenzhen room (much nicer)... maybe it's more expensive in Beijing. If I come again, I think I'll spend a bit more for a better hotel. I've yet to experience the breakfast yet so maybe that will change my mind.


Just got back from breakfast and I'm not impressed. I had low expectations so at least I wasn't disappointed. The room was small... there were only 9 tables. There were some hot items, some buns, porridge, bread, and some cold dishes/fruits. I only got a few buns and watermelon. For some reason, the orange "juice" tasted like Tang and was warm... eeewww!

There was a wireless connection downstairs from the hotel. The signal was weak but I was able to check email on my Android phone while eating breakfast.


Anonymous said...

is it me or do the complaints seem to spike when you are in mainland china? you don't seem to complain as much in republic of china or Hong Kong (SAR).

totochi said...

Well, despite all the progress, most of China still feels like a third world country. Other than the weather, I had nothing to complain about in Taiwan and I never leave the Hong Kong airport. PMI needs to move its HQ to Taipei.