Saturday, May 28, 2011

Here’s a link to my Beijing hotel – China World Summit Wing by the Shangri-La Hotel group. I’m in town for a day between 3 days in London and flying home to CA.

Love the hotel. I’m on 71st floor. If Beijing wasn’t so smoggy the view would be amazing. In the direction my room faces (appears to be west – into the setting sun) there are many multi-story buildings as far as I can see – but they are maybe 20 stories high – not 80 stories like this one – so view is unobstructed. There is a very major road just out front and since location of Tianimen Square was pointed out to me earlier I can see where it is from here. I am remarkably not tempted to head out and walk around since (at least from here) the city appears to be populated by big buildings without much interest at the ground level. I did head out with our people to tour a space where we will build an office – it is further down the street toward Tienamen.

The room is very spacious – especially compared to Europe or NYC hotels. I am also very impressed that in my desk drawer are such useful items as stapler, eraser, scissors, tape etc. They also have speaker/charger for my iPhone and multi-country power converters. On my table is a box with an apple, some Chinese treats, and a lovely large chocolate I have been nibbling away at. It has dried fruit and nuts on top as well as a few pieces of marshmallow. Curious but tasty.

There is a place for my suitcase. Multiple closets. The bathroom has such amenities stashed away as a razor. I have a shower with both rain head and hand held. I have a separate large tub with bath salts – perhaps for later this evening.

I had some free time between meeting and dinner (also a meeting). I’ve caught up on emails but also took advantage of the pool on the 80th floor. A large infinity edge pool, nice lounge furniture, bottles of water. In my locker I found plastic slides for my feet and a scrumptious robe. The towels were by far the nicest I’ve used at a hotel. I had the place to myself except for a couple of ladies diligently scrubbing the floor. The pool was a tad cool for me (I’m not really a lap person) so I headed to the Jacuzzi. I think it was women only. There were 2 stainless steel loungers in the water with jets that could be activated under them. Between them was “shoulder” jet coming from the wall should you wish (I did). The Jacuzzi was also infinity style with water pouring over onto river rocks. Heading back toward the locker were 2 saunas – regular and herbal steam. Between them was “ice bath” – a big bowl of ice – felt good. More excellent showers and a nice powder room. There was a spin dryer for my wet suit and more bottles of water. This is a life I could get used to.

When I first arrived my taxi driver left me off at the wrong hotel. I had to walk to this one – it seemed like a very long walk through the largest mall I have ever been in. The mall near the other hotel was filled with very high end stores like Prada. Later on it turned more into regular USA mall with such stores as American Apparel and Nine West. I haven’t really seen anything that screams “China”.

When I visited London, Paris, and even New York I kept thinking “would love to bring the family”. I don’t think that here. I am sure there are places in China I would love to visit as a tourist – and Beijing might well be as well if you hit up the temples etc. I particularly liked London as it was such a nice mix of historic with some modern inserts. It was a great city to enjoy on foot – and I had great weather both trips. I have a lot of photos from England. I took an early morning walk on Tuesday before meeting Maggie at the site and then Wednesday ended up being mostly a free day (to my surprise). I did some work but did much more walking.

In London I stayed at St Martin’s Lane. I had stayed there on my last visit. It is a very “hip” place. On my first visit I was quite annoyed that I couldn’t get it cool enough in my room (thermostat was behind a door). The desk was pretty much shoved against the window – including the chair. There wasn’t much room to get around the bed. They had fun customizable colored light above the bed but I couldn’t leave it on without leaving the glowing TV stand on too – which was too bright for sleeping. The bathroom was lovely with architecture quite well done although I didn’t like that the shower went to the ceiling in all directions so there was no where to hang a towel. I also thought the fact that you needed an extension cord to use the hair dryer in the bathroom a poor oversight. The linens and bed were nice. This trip I had to move to Charing Cross Hotel the 2nd night. Turns out it was about 2 short blocks from the first hotel and the building was essentially attached to the Charing Cross subway station. I liked the building initially but it wasn’t as well designed as St Martins either in public areas or in details in bathroom etc in your room. It also had a very funky way to get to your room – up one elevator, over an enclosed bridge across a street, back down an elevator, down a couple of stairs and finally to my room.

I had a good – and quick – dinner in the hotel restaurant at St Martins. Charing Cross seemed aimed at large conventions and didn’t tempt me. I found a Thai place that had quite a crowd still when I got there after 9 p.m. but it was perhaps the worst curry I’d ever had.

Both hotels were near Covent Garden and Trafalger Square right by some play houses. Tuesday morning I walked down Trafalger Square then saw Big Ben and headed down until I reached Parliament. I had run out of time and hustled back along the river front. Wednesday I went back to Covent Garden and wandered around some of the smaller perimeter streets. I then checked up and decided to head across the river at Embarkment (a nice pedestrian and train bridge). Turned out to be a great decision. The river walk was lovely – filled with people and art and color on a nice warm sunny day. I did make it down to the Tate Modern. I rested my weary feet outside at their café for a very nice chicken breast over lentil meal. Then it was time to try to see a little of the museum. I didn’t get through all the galleries but quite a few. My morning plan had been to perhaps take the boat to the Tate Britian then walk back along a different stretch of the river. Poor planning led me to realize that boat only goes about once an hour and I had completely run out of time. I high tailed it back along the river to catch a taxi to the airport.

Almost missed my plane. Our gate was A10 – but turns out A10 had several lettered gates. I was sitting down at A10b but the bus was leaving from A10e. Hmm. Then it was a several mile bus ride to get from terminal 5 to some other terminal – and we then had to walk outside and schlep my bag up the stairs to the plane. Really? At Heathrow?

Took British Air. The seats were designed to alternate front and back. Which seemed pretty nifty when you realized it enabled them to give you quite a bit of privacy (complete with privacy screen that went up and down between you and your neighbor) and seat design also provided ability to lay completely flat. So I actually got my best sleep ever. Still only about 3 hours total I’m guessing. They also had personal controlled video monitors – unlike the United Flights I’ve been on where all the movies are on a loop. Sadly their system wasn’t working so the movies were on a loop… I had a much tastier curry on the plane than I had had the night before. BA also had plenty of chocolate snacks to choose from (vs only tiny Toblerones in United that always run out).

When I set this trip up I was rather surprised to discover that each leg of the trip – CA to UK to China to CA is approx 10 hours. Don’t know why that surprised me – I think it might have to do with the way we often see our maps drawn with Russia divided into pieces and spread out. I don’t sleep well on planes so my theory is that I’ll just be really tired and then stay up until bedtime wherever I land and then get a good night sleep. I think it would be a good plan if I was remotely better sleeper. Or if I had remembered to bring the original Nyquil that I meant to bring. Not because I’m sick but because it tends to knock me out.

Didn’t have lunch today so am really looking forward to dinner. Just got a call that coworker is back from the tours so we’ll meet up with everyone soon – around 7:30 p.m.  They fed me breakfast on the plane around 7:30 a.m. – that was a long time ago…

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