After a four hour delay at O'Hare, the group boarded the plane for Shanghai, and nearly fourteen hours later arrived safely at the Pu Dong Airport. The massive facility was eerily quiet and devoid of the intense activity one would expect to find at an international airport; successful passage through immigration and customs was surprisingly easy and very fast.
Once luggage was claimed and money exchanged, the group boarded a bus for a three hour ride to the city of Hangzhou. Our first steps outside the airport were filled with the smell of Shanghai - stifling air pollution that literally took your breath away. As we drove down the highway toward Hangzhou, a heavy haze hung over everything in sight, with no visible dissipation for the duration of the trip.
Hangzhou, a bustling city of three million inhabitants, offered quite the sights and sounds to welcome us last night. This growing city was filled with activity, hundreds of thousands of people walking down the streets, and dozens of storefront shops bustling with activity. After meandering through the city's maze of streets for over half an hour, we finally arrived at the Lakeview Hotel, located directly across from the beautiful West Lake.