We flew 7 hours to Beijing, and 2 more hours from Beijing to Harbin. At Sheremetyevo Airport we met several other Russian teams. The teams from Samara, Izhevsk, and, it seems, Ural were on the same plane. And some other teams. Moreover, we flew with Andrey Styskin, who works for Yandex, and will take part in the conference in the context of the contest. Separate teams could be clearly distinguished on the plane: 3 young people, each with a laptop, or a netbook. However there were exceptions.
In Beijing we met a team from Moscow, which had already spent 4 days there. Anton Pankratiev (their trainer) demonstrated a piece of paper with the phrase on it:"no pepper, please", which had been kindly translated into Chinese for them by a hotel staff member. They showed it in restaurants to be on the safe side.
At the airport we were met by amiable volunteers from the local University, who asked us friendly to wait for a bus that will take us to the hotel. On the bus we had to wait again, I think, for the next flight. The airport turned to be rather far from the city, the journey took us about an hour. There were no traffic jams on the roads, or at least the driver avoided them skillfully. The roads are mature: with road interchanges, multilane, even and fine.
The hotel check-in didn't go quickly, we got a set of warm clothes each, and went out in search of food. There was a pedestrian street nearby, but we didn't have time to go there, and the weather wasn't nice. It was about 30 degrees below zero, but in spite of this you could see smiling Chinese people without hats.
Having walked around the neighbourhood, we found a genuine Chinese eatery. A friendly waiter uttered in broken English "Sit down, please", but shortly after it occurred it was the only phrase he knew. To tell you the truth, it's not that easy (but very amusing!) to order a meal, when no one understands you. We got a wonderful menu! All the staff gathered around us, the process amused too.
When we came back to the hotel, we registered for the competition. Everything went quickly - it wasn't the first time we had done that. For sure, we met other Russian teams. Plenty of familiar faces.