I left Arkansas Saturday morning, May 31st and didn't arrive in China until Sunday afternoon, June 1st. The flight was long and uneventful. I thought I would be flying west; however, it seems that almost due north is the quickest and shortest way to Beijing from Arkansas. I left Little Rock and flew to Chicago. After changing planes and going through a customs and visa check I left Chicago and we flew north, crossing over Canada, passing within 150 miles of the North Pole, passing Siberia and a small part of Mongolia, before entering China.
My first impression of China is very positive. The people are very friendly and helpful. It seems they are already prepared for the influx of foriegn athletes, trainers, media, and spectators as they are very patient with the language barrier.
It will take some time to get used to the food. Nothing has made me sick, fortunately. However, rice and a noodle bowl (much like the Ramen noodles we eat in the US) at every meal, even breakfast, will take some adjusting. Likewise, the Chinese don't eat very much dairy or sweets; so, it will be a while before I get a good piece of chocolate or an ice cold glass of milk. These are things I have to look forward to when I return home.
My current assignment is the IBC (International Broadcast Center), serving broadcast media from all over the world. No media has arrived yet; we are only feeding staff and set-up crews. Most of the Olympic kitchens and venues are still under construction; it is a 24-hour-day 7-day-week endeavor to get everything ready for all the visitors expected to arrive within the next month or so. My work during this time will be to become familiar with the menu and recipes, the health inspectors of the Beijing Olympic Committee, all of the kitchens, and get settled in with the kitchen crew - and there's not much time to get it all done.
I am part of a very diverse management team, with culinarians from all over the world. Today, my first day, I have met chefs from several parts of the US, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Japan, Ireland, England, and, of course, China. This is truly a global experience - one I am very honored to participate in.