Beijing Part Two: To Be A Chicken In The Freezer

Six hours of flight made us sore by the time we reached Beijing International Airport. Luckily we had a brief flight interconnection in Hong Kong. Mum complained that she disliked flight transits, but for me it was opportunity to take a look in yet another airport. Call me odd, but I like airports. There’s a sense of thrill watching the planes taking off and landing, and it was fun watching people come and go and guessing which country they were from or where they are heading.

By the time we arrived in Beijing it was already midnight. Fortunately as China shares the same time zone as Malaysia, there was barely an issue of different time zone. The airport was quiet and somewhat empty as we trudged our from our plane and towards customs. I took my time appreciating the vastness of the airport, something I can’t obviously do if I was rushing around and the if the airport was crowded.

That first midnight, the temperature outside was recorded to be a whopping -8 degrees celcius. What?? Of course, for those among us who were lucky enough to be living in countries where their winters were filled with snow, this might not seem like a lot. But unfortunately for us who lived in the tropical rainforest climate, where there are only two seasons: Sun and Rain, such temperature is like placing us in a freezer. Truly enough, as we stepped out of the airport and waited for the bus to take us to the hotel, the people around me- my family included- scampered for their sweaters and jackets and coats.

I can practically feel blood freezing on their way to my fingers. My aunt went so far as to borrow my brother’s earmuffs to cover her nose, as she began to feel it aching. Thankfully there was no wind, otherwise it would have been colder. I stood there thinking: So this is what a chicken in a freezer must feel like. I didn’t put my jacket on that night (my mum scolded me so severely about the dangers of getting hypothermia), and I sort of half expected my hand to fall off from frostbite. Mercifully, the bus arrived after we stood there for 10minutes (must have felt like an hour to some) and we rushed into the warmth. I bet nobody ever complained about Malaysian weather ever again!

Our tour guide, a man in his mid-thirties named Johan, was up front introducing himself and briefing us on the journey for the next couple of days. But I wasn’t really listening. Instead I stared out the window towards the dark road around me. There really isn’t much to see in the dark, but I can still make out the trees, bare and naked. They would have discarded their leaves at the end of autumn and beginning of winter, sometime in November, in preparation for the cold. As we entered the city, we saw the hints of a nightlife in Beijing. Believe it or not, there are some people, including elderly men and women, who did tai-chi even in this weather and hour.

Next Post: Why it is called the Summer Palace.

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