The travel from Boston to Chengdu took over 24 hours. Exhausting, but the trip took us over the North Pole and to a completely different part of the world.
Upon arriving in China, the 9 of us drew a lot of attention to ourselves. Girls shook our hands in the airport and said things like “Holy cow, you are so handsome!”. Our Harvard crew was greeted by 5 Chinese girls who will serve as our interpreters and guides during the 4 day leg of the racing in Xin Jin City.
We boarded a bus at the Chengdu airport and were taken to a newly constructed hotel in Xin Jin City, the site of our first race. As we approached the hotel, the roads were lined with large signs that advertised the regatta. A large hotel staff greeted us and were tremendous hosts from the start, a theme that will continue. Some hotel employees spoke broken English, and they all talk about how proud they are of their city. We made a friend named Jon who lived with a host family in Oregon for 2 years before attending the University of Georgia, where he is in his Junior year. Jon is a native of Xin Jin City and speaks with a slight hint of an accent from the deep south, pretty funny.
We were taken to our rooms and were blown away by how luxurious the accommodations were. Everything is brand new. The hotel sits at the starting line of the race course and it appears that the athletes, coaches and volunteers are the only occupants. A little eerie.