[P]reviously on Fred’s China Trip Day #2 – The Longest Day Ever, Fred and company have survived the 13 hour flight from LAX and lost a whole day landing safely in Beijing, China. It’s Tuesday, November 10th.

Fred Going through China Customs6a I am finally off the plane and standing on the other side of the world! With time zones, half day flights, and lack of sleep, all that stands between visiting the 13th largest city in the world is…customs.

Our group gathered, filled out paperwork and one by one officially entered China on a one-time guest visa. When it came to my turn, I tried hard to smile and take my questions seriously. When I don’t get enough sleep or forget my ADD meds, the whole world starts becoming funny. “Federico, do you have anything to declare?”

My mind was blank. My thoughts were racing.

All sentences should end with punctuation? Fore score and 7 years ago? Tea is definitely better than coffee? Paper is better than plastic? 42 is the answer. Aisle seats are better than middles? Crocs are better than shoes? Public school is better than private? HEBISD is better than others? We should teach our kids more languages? He wasn’t smiling. I was blowing it, blowing it. Finally I shook my head. He stamped my passport and screamed. “Next!”

I’m officially in China!!!

Disappointed in my lack of answering, looking down at my green Crocs, and listening to the smooth wheels of my TLS 21″ Mini Mother Lode, I asked myself, “Why am I in China? What is my purpose? What is my declaration?”

I experienced a moment of clarity…

My purpose here is to:

  1. Study how the Chinese people and their government educate children,
  2. Cross share ideas on public education with Chinese educators,
  3. Develop a deeper relationship with my fellow US delegates, who also teach Mandrin Chinese in their schools,
  4. Be an ambassador of good relations between our countries,
  5. Study the culture,
  6. Promote green Crocs as an up-and-coming fashion, and
  7. Finally to have fun!

[tweet “The Beijing Capital International Airport is the second busiest in the world in passenger traffic.”]

7a We claimed our bags and slowly started gathering together our delegates. Gathering, meeting, and getting groups this size through customs is rather laborious. Thankfully, while we wait for everyone to process and enter, most of us were able to find and get on to the airport’s free WiFi. With this discovery, I texted and emailed on my iPhones without turning off “airplane mode” or using cellular data. Who knew!

Click for the Crowne Plaza Beijing8a We loaded buses and found out that our hotel was ready. We went to the Crowne Plaza Beijing for breakfast and checked in. We got our rooms just long enough to drop our bags, before re-loading the bus, to tour Beijing.

Touring Beijing and the Forbidden City

Beijing is the capital of the People’s Republic of China and the second largest Chinese city by urban population after Shanghai. Its population in 2013 was 21,150,000. By comparison it is more than 17 times the size of Dallas, Texas. The metropolis, located in northern China, is governed as a direct-controlled municipality under the national government with 16 urban, suburban, and rural districts.

Beijing is the second largest Chinese city by urban population after Shanghai and is the nation’s political, cultural and educational center. It is home to the headquarters of most of China’s largest state-owned companies, and is a major hub for the national highway, expressway, railway, and high-speed rail networks.

11a The bus and our tour guide, John showed us this massive city. Beijing has people everywhere walking, riding, driving. The traffic reminded me much of Los Angeles or even Mexico City.

1p We stopped for lunch and then reloaded the bus for our journey into the Forbidden City!

The Forbidden City, Beijing, ChinaThe Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty—the years 1420 to 1912. It is located in the center of Beijing, China, and now houses the Palace Museum. It served as the home of emperors and their households as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government for almost 500 years.

Built in 1406 to 1420, the complex consists of 980 buildings and covers 180 acres. The palace complex exemplifies traditional Chinese palatial architecture, and has influenced cultural and architectural developments in East Asia and elsewhere. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, and is listed by UNESCO as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world. It is an AMAZING piece of history with artwork in every inch of every detail.

Corridor of Longevity, the Tour Guide of Redundancy, in a State of Sleep Depravity

Forbidden City Corridor3p John told us that the “Corridor of Longevity” is the longest covered corridor in the world. We walked and walked and walked and I started getting off the path to explore. Our guide’s voice was starting to run together in my mind. His every word began to sound like Charlie Brown’s school teacher.

Chinese Hotel BedsSleep depravity was slowly kicking in. “Have I seen this before? Is this the same temple as over there? Is that the same dragon? Am I on the same corridor?”

I rejoined the group.

I snapped tons of pictures.

I got on the bus.

I took my ADD meds.

I ate dinner.

I walked into my room.

I took off my glasses.

8:50p I face planted fully clothed into what seemed like a single and half bed, about 12″ off the ground. It is FINALLY time to sleep. Welcome to China! Good night! 晚 安

Will Fred convert to Beijing time? Can Fred use chopsticks without embarrassing himself? What does domestic travel inside China look like? What can we learn from China’s education system? What is China doing better than the US? Tune in tomorrow. Same bat time, same bat channel.

Images from Fred’s China Trip 11/10/2015, click here to read Day #4.