Ok, so as I said in my general e-mail, I made it safely to Beijing. The flight was long, tedious, and generally unpleasant. I had thought that because I had purchased my tickets on a discount sight that I would without doubt have center seats with no redeeming value. However, I was wrong. I sat next to the window on both flights. While that was singularly unexciting on the first flight, it was almost worthwhile on the second.
Two things about O'Hare airport in Chicago--wonderful bathrooms with automatic seat covers that are activated with a wave of the hand, and horrible seating arrangements in the airport. There were several hundred people waiting for the flight to China and maybe fifty seats at the gate.
Moving on, thirteen hours on a plane is relatively horrid, unless you are in an exit row, and then it doesn't matter if you are in the window, aisle or middle, there is plenty of room and you don't have to harrass your neighbor in order to get out and use the lavatory. Otherwise, you are stuck in a seat the size of any normal airplane seat, with a bag under the seat in front of you keeping your legs from stretching out. At least with a window seat, you can lean against it to sleep. I certainly did a lot of that on the flight, interspersed with meals, snacks, and movies.
Now, I said that sitting in the window seat was not without redeeming value (aside from the leaning ability). Last time I came to China, the plane I was on crossed the Pacific, so no scenery to speak of until the plane made it to Japan, and then, by the time we arrived in China, it was too dark to see anything outside. This time was significantly different. We left Chicago and flew up, across Canada and out over the water to the north of Alaska. We made an arc and ended up over Siberia. Then, we came down over Eastern Mongolia and then to Beijing. Siberia from the air is beautiful. At first, there as a portion of the land that was essentially nothing but lakes and rivers. While they did not appear to be frozen over completely, they were frozen around the edges, and the rivers were winding snakes among the lakes. As we went a little farther west and south, we entered a mountain range, I forget the name, but at the edge of it, it looked like there were thousands of tiny streams coming off of larger rivers, but they all appeared to be frozen, making the ground look embroidered with silver threads. It was certainly impressive and I wish that I had had my camera available to take pictures, but unfortunately, I did not.
So, the plan from here is to catch the flight to Lhasa tomorrow, shipping my second suitcase, since only one checked bag is allowable on domestic flights in China.
I'm off to go see if my roommate here at the hostel is awake yet. Yes, it is after 2pm here, but what can you expect if he stays out until 4am? Well, regardless of whether he is up or not, I need to repack so that I can get my suitcase to the post office so it can be shipped. I'll write again soon.