We had the loveliest first day in Beijing. After landing at around 2:30pm local time, we made our way through security and customs within 30 min, which was much faster than I expected. I suppose we had already done the hard work at the Chinese Consulate in Houston where we had to submit a mountain of paperwork to get our visas. It also helps not to have checked any luggage.

The taxi from the airport to our hotel was an enlightening journey. The cars swim between lanes, don’t use indicators, use the shoulder to speed past traffic, and all of this is happening while hundreds of people are crossing the road and riding their bikes.

The first thing we noticed was how utterly quiet the city is even with so many cars and people on the streets. You could almost hear a pin drop, and we are very much in downtown Beijing.

We walked 300m from our taxi to the Beijing Double Happiness Courtyard Hotel where we are staying for two nights. This gorgeous place is within walking distance of some of the bigger tourist attractions and decorated in traditional style. According to the welcome guide, this courtyard used to be the house of a gifted ancient scholar and dignitary in Chinese Qing dynasty named Mr Ji Xiolan (1724-1805) who was the chief editor of Sikuqanshu, the first and most famous Chinese encyclopedia.

Every room has a beautiful curtain draped in front of the door so you can keep the door open, and have some privacy, while allowing the air to cool your room.

We were pretty exhausted from our flight so we just enjoyed our room, which is also beautifully decorated, and ate dinner at the hotel’s restaurants.Thankfully, so far we have met with people who speak basic English. All except a sweet housekeeper lady who needed to get into her room to prepare the beds for the night. We got by haha.

Addam has been practicing his Mandarin when he can, and I’m sure by the end of this trip he’ll be having full conversations with the locals.