My first trip to China was almost exactly 25 years ago, in 1984. I made two that year--one just about this time of year, to Beijing and Chengdu, deep in the Chinese interior in Sichuan Province (home of the famous panda bears), and the second a couple of months later. Neither airport was yet modernized, and in Beijing we stayed in a hotel that was under construction--in fact, as I recall, pretty much everything was under construction. I don't remember much about Beijing itself, other than going to Tiananmen Square (this was five years before the massacre) and then later to the Great Wall, but on the first trip we took a flight to Chengdu on an old Russian plane. It was packed, and none of the overhead compartment doors closed, mainly because they were overstuffed and/or broken from previous overstuffing. All kinds of baggage, clothing, and produce was hanging out of them, and went flying as the plane took off. The plane had not a single empty seat, so the stewardesses had to stand the whole time, including during takeoff. It was nervewracking but we got there, and back.
I have been back a few times since, most recently a few years ago when I visited Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing. The change was amazing, at least in the infrastructure, and from what I understand every month brings more. Yet, despite the surface change, many things about China hadn't seemed to alter---which isn't at all surprising given what a blip in time 20 years is in the course of Chinese history. It will be interesting to be on the ground for a little while and dig into things more, as well as to contrast China to my recent time in India. Marty is also looking forward to visiting--fortunately, he likes Chinese food a lot better than he did south Indian.