Aug. 23, 2012
BEIJING - The UCLA men's basketball team completed their first day in Beijing on Thursday after arriving in China's capital early in the morning. The Bruins endured a 13-hour flight from Los Angeles to begin their weeklong stay in China.
UCLA departed Los Angeles at 1:40 a.m. on Wednesday and arrived in Beijing at 5:40 a.m. local time on Thursday. Players and coaches were forced to quickly adjust to a 15-hour time change.
The travel party landed safely without any issues getting through customs or retrieving luggage at the baggage carousel. By 7:30 a.m., UCLA had loaded two buses en route through heavy morning traffic to the Guangzhou Beijing Hotel.
After arriving at the team's hotel in Beijing and enjoying breakfast, the travel party had several hours to rest or explore the city.
"The people here have been so hospitable and great to us," head coach Ben Howland said. "Everything has been so well-organized from the minute we got off the plane. It's really been a great trip thus far. We are really excited."
A scheduled scrimmage against upcoming exhibition opponent Tsinghua University was scaled back to a light workout in the late afternoon. Following the team's workout, the team walked through Beijing for dinner before having the rest of the evening to explore the city.
UCLA head coach Ben Howland
"The flight over here was great. Everything went really smooth with our departure. Air China was phenomenal. They treated us so well and offered such great hospitality. The flight went smoother and was shorter than I had expected a 13-hour flight to go. Maybe it was the time of the hour we left. I thought everybody did a great job handling the travel. And then to be here all of a sudden, `Boom' you are on the other side of the world. Just to think that 100 years ago this would be unimaginable to be stepping form one culture on the other side of the world 6,000 miles away to where we are here. It's amazing to think about that.
"I think it's awesome for our team and our players. These are things that most Americans never see in person. To actually be there and see it and feel it and realize the kind of work and how long it took to built that Great Wall and the history behind the Forbidden City, along with the culture and tradition here in China is amazing. Those will be wonderful things to see and great for our players to experience. Being right outside our hotel room, you are right there. We are getting a great feel for what the city of Beijing is like for the average person as you walk around. This is a huge city and is a really interesting place."
UCLA freshman Jordan Adams
"The last 24 hours have been a great experience. We left L.A. on a Tuesday night and arrived on Thursday morning in Beijing. We pretty much lost our Wednesday while we were on the plane. That's something different which you don't get to experience every day. The people have treated us really nice. They'll stop and want to take their picture with us. I'm looking forward to eating the different kind of foods and being able to sightsee as we get into our trip."