We traveled about a day, had smooth flights, skipped over a morning and arrived in Beijing around midnight last Thursday.
My first postage-size impression of Beijing the morning after we arrived was that it looked like Bucharest (Romania, where I spent a summer after college) but that was only because of the haziness and tall apartment buildings from both vantage points of the apartment we are staying in. That is really the only way Beijing resembles Bucharest - both have the tall apartments for different reasons - but that was my first thought on the first morning.
We went to a market the next day which reminded me of the markets in Tema and Accra (in Ghana) except that the vendors were much less aggressive and there were no marriage proposals. I did nod at the other obviously American tourists and we did barter with calculators and try not to melt in the heat.
It seems the experience of spending time in other countries makes it less overwhelming to be here -- the sheer number of people, the chaos that everyone else seems to understand on the roads and not knowing a lick of the language seems familiar and unfamiliar at the same time.
And so, on it's own accord, Beijing is huge and tall. There are sky scrapers and apartment buildings and people and cars everywhere we go, although I think so far we have mainly been driving through the city as there are several major roads that ring around the center of Beijing. Running this morning was like running in a sauna, the humidity (or smog or fog or something) literally hangs in the air.
Oh, and possibly the best part -- there two little people here who giggle sweet giggles and who get excited when I place better than 12th place in mario cart and who turn my husband into an orangutan at random moments.