We arrived at the airport, packed our bags. We passed the security control without any problem and look for the boarding gate! We went with more than 2 hours in advance. Between the queue for the boarding pass we have spent more than 1 hour.
All our eagerness was to find a place to have breakfast but we only saw fast food shops with the occasional stool and little else. At the end of the place we find the restaurant area with nice cafes and restaurants with large areas with tables and chairs (even sofa) to sit quietly.
We had a good breakfast for an affordable price and I was struck by the fact that there was a kind of island with a fountain and a small pond and trees with birds. There were even little wooden houses for the birds.
We board and go to our seats. The plane is full of Chinese, and a few Westerners. The space between rows is acceptable. Each chair has its own video screen, headphones, a blanket and a pillow. I verify that there is a wide offer of films in English. There is also a lot of music of all styles, including classical music and opera, so I will have entertainment.
I finished the ebooks I had for the whole trip. I finished the crosswords. I gave a good touch to the Sudoku and I heard music, a lot of music from China, Sinatra, Baroque, Renaissance, opera. And in between I got bored, I looked out the window. I got bored again. I walked. I looked back through the window. I got bored again. I tried to sleep, and so on for 7 interminable hours.
Shortly afterwards they give menu with two dishes to choose from with rogan josh or butter chicken, both Indian dishes and I choose chicken. They serve it to us along with bread, toast, cheese, butter, salad and a sweet. The chicken comes with rice and vegetables. To drink they give water, soft drinks, beer or wine, plus tea or coffee. The chicken curry is very good and it is a sufficient amount.
And finally we landed, we left the plane and passed the customs control that is before collecting the suitcases. We went directly to the luggage collection area and they take very little time to leave. After picking up the suitcases we go to the exit and there is always the worry of will there be someone waiting for us? And yes, there was, with a sign with our names and everything.
Our driver was waiting for us, the same one who accompanied us throughout our stay in Beijing and who did not speak English. As I always do, I sat down and stuck my face in the glass to not miss anything of what we could see on the way. It was already night and all the lights were on, where there were, of course. I remember the impression that the luminous posters gave me, all in red and yellow and almost all in Chinese. I am finally in China!
At the beginning they were all tall buildings, but when we entered the city, much lower buildings began to appear mixed with other tall ones. We went through the Tiananmen Square, which I recognize without problems from the photos and guides and lined up the fence of the Forbidden City. Now there is no doubt I'm in China.
From here the road is through narrow streets and little illuminated until we reach a street that hallucinates me. It is past 11 at night and the street is so full of people that we cannot move ahead. The driver has to go honking for people to get away. I feel like Moses crossing the Nile. They are all very modern kids, dyed their hair red, girls dressed to kill and all full of open shops, cafes, restaurants , street food stalls, handbags selling glasses, iphone cases, socks, costume jewelry.
The whole street has buildings on one level with weathered roofs like the typical Chinese. There comes a time when the vehicle stops. We have reached Courtyard Street and cannot enter. It is narrow and there are several blocks placed in the mouth. So there we put our suitcases down and we get into the street. It is a narrow alley and barely illuminated, with only the light projected by two cafes and a row of red lanterns that wave in the middle of the street.
Will that be my hotel? Yes, it is my hotel. It's like a dream, I'm in China and my first contact is the typical image of China and everything for me alone. At reception we confirm our reservation and the room boy take us to our room. Again I hallucinate. I go through the wooden door and find one of those round doors that the Chinese like so much. Beyond a narrow and elongated courtyard is the entrance door. And then there is a patio, with its typical buildings, its little trees and its lanterns.
At the entrance of our room is a guzhen, an ancient instrument of music, played with false nails and sounds like a harp. The room is furnished with typical Chinese wooden furniture, with a huge bed, sofa, TV, ketel, in short, all the comforts. The plugs have multiple sockets and serve the same for the European, American or Chinese plug. In addition there is an adapter.
And the bathroom is great, modern and very clean. We unpack our suitcases and here I see the only inconvenience that I have found at this hotel. It does not have closets, only low cupboards with shelves.
I take this stage to tell you some things about ancient Chinese houses. The first thing is that the architecture of all of them is identical, since the Emperor Qin, in 200 BC, standardized the constructive norms. They have been maintained ever since. The second is that all of them have been built following the rules of Feng Shui, with the entrance to the south to avoid the evil spirits that come from the north.
All of them have at the entrance the laughing buddha, a circular statue that is placed for getting the protection of the Buddha and a bowl with the small lucky bamboo trees. All has steps so that evil spirits do not enter. The entrance to the street is not the real entrance to the house but gives access to a long and narrow courtyard where some buildings of uncertain use are located. In our hotel they have used it to place the dining room and common areas.
And in this first patio is the real entrance to the house, so that it makes an L shape with the other door. Once through the door we find the first patio or main patio, reserved for the head of the family. Everything in Chinese housing is subject to a strict hierarchy, so that the first patio is the most important.
Inside the courtyard the central building has more importance than the one on its right and this one more than the one on the left. Thus the central building is the house of the head of the family. From this patio we can access the backyard, smaller, whose central dwelling is reserved for the ancestors and the rest for the children, always respecting the hierarchy. In our hotel the suites are located here.