After an uneventful overnight flight from Singapore, we approach Beijing airport on a cold clear morning. As the SQ812 B777-200 descends from the south (see the wing flap partially extended), I can see extensive clumps of high-rise buildings. Realizing that the airport is some 40km northeast of downtown, the buildings must be in the eastern suburbs of metropolitan Beijing, home to about 15mil ppl. This, being my first trip to Beijing, makes me full of anticipation. Beijing, as it turns out, is one huge construction site, virtually aimed for Olympics 2008. I am just 3 years too early!
We land on schedule, breeze through immigration and customs (as harmless as clearing Singapore airport), and are soon in a Volvo driven by missus's friend, wife of an attache at the Malaysian Embassy, cruising along a modern toll expressway. Yes, we are putting up at the modern embassy complex for the next 5 nights, located in the diplomatic quarter of eastern Beijing.