Thursday, April 2, 2009


I was hoping I’d start hallucinating, but no such luck. Randy Gardner started hallucinating after 4 days when he set the record in 1965 for 11 days without sleep. I was going on 48 hours... I kept fantasizing about my cozy king size bed that awaited me at the Beijing Hilton, but it didn’t make the bench at O’Hare feel any better. It wasn’t quite as comfortable as my temperpedic back home, and neither were the coach seats on the 747... By the time we touched down, I was stiff, my back was sore, and my journey was just beginning...

One small step for man, one giant step for me, as I set foot in the terminal and began the long march to baggage claim. A wave of relief rushed over me when I saw that all of the signs with Chinese characters were subtitled in English, assuring I would find my way. I only hoped my baggage would be as fortunate.

Down the escalator to the baggage carousels, I saw a number of Chinese men holding signs with names... mine wasn’t on any of them. Just then a man emerges from the crowd, calls my name, and tells me to collect my luggage and he will arrange my transfer. Whew!

I eye the carousel like a hawk, but after 15 minutes of nothing a rumor starts to circulate that United has “misplaced” the luggage of 40 passengers, and I get the sinking feeling that this is going to be a very, very long trip.

Ever the optimist I grab a cart for my luggage, and I notice something peculiar... the cart is free. Carts are $3 back in the states... maybe there is something to communism after all. Just as I’m about to lose all hope, my bag emerges from the depths of luggage hell. I am now mere moments away from my fantasy... a comfy hotel bed, and nothing is going to get in between me and my fantasy... well, almost nothing...

“Miniskirts and Maxi Fun!” says the advertisement’s ladies night in the posh Hilton bar, and it is packed with just that. Asian eye candy abounds. I’ve traveled 8000 miles and gone 2 days without sleep. There is no way I can party now, especially since I have to be up at 6am. Okay, maybe I’ll just have one drink...

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