So I finally have wireless set up! At some point, I’ll post a video or pictures of my apartment. I’ve already been to IKEA, seen my classroom, and tested out a noodle restaurant nearby. Prices here are…interesting. While I spent 1900 RMB (about $300) at IKEA, a lunch for three, with an appetizer of delicious baozi, cost 30 RMB (less than $5). I think I’ll be eating out quite often.
Today, I slept in ’til 9:30ish and, since then, have just been trying to unpack some more. In a little while, I’ll head over to the school, figure out my mailing address, and try to get a SIM card for my phone. I wrote a little on my flights over here, so I’m posting that below a picture of Meghan and me at the Dulles airport.
August 5, 9pm EST
Although I don’t know when I’ll be able to post this, I thought I’d start on the China portion of this blog as soon as I could and what better time to start writing than on a flight?
It’s currently a little after 9pm EST meaning I’ve been in the air for a tad more than 4 hours. That’s 4 hours down, 10 to go, and we’re just talking about this flight. We’re flying somewhere over the northern stretches of Canada right now. For some reason, I expected it to be dark outside during this flight (I guess I just thought we were flying at night), but I didn’t take summer, the Arctic Circle, and the fact that we’re flying into the sunset into account. With the glaring sun, the flight attendants asked us to close all of our shades so, aside from when a little girl on the other side of the plane periodically peeks outside, I have no concept of time, speed, space.
My parents and my sister took me to the DC airport this morning. Checking in was a tad crazy. Although I had done ample research about the size and weight limits of the allowed checked luggage, but was told I still had to downsize and repack there at the airport. Thank God for family. But I’m not doing this by myself. When I come back to the states, I’m shipping everything. Despite the hassle, the woman at the ticket counter was extremely kind and when I told her I was moving to Chengdu, she let me go over weight limits on all my bags…which made the repacking a little easier. Going through security was a breeze. My last meal in the states was a bagel and sweet tea from a kiosk near my gate.
I made my first “New World” contact in the Dulles airport. While boarding, a woman asked me why I was going to China and if I was staying in Beijing. I explained that I was going to teach in Chengdu and she was thrilled. She introduced herself as Yao and said she was also a teacher. She taught law in Beijing and has a friend who just moved to Chengdu. Although I lost her while getting on the plane, she found me later. We exchanged email addresses and she gave me her phone number to call if I’m ever in the capital city or need anything while I’m in China.
Thus far, everything’s been quiet. Dinner seemed quite Asian though, with a lot of rice and the kind of lobster salad I usually see on the top of my sushi. I also watched the movie “Love Distance” about 3 couples: one in Taipei (Taiwan), one in Chengdu, and one in another area of mainland China. Cute movie, English subtitles, welcome to …almost China.
I’m going to find something else to listen to while I attempt sleep. It’s currently 9:27am in Chengdu. I’ll get in a little after midnight tonight. Whoa. Looks like we’re over the very remote northern stretches of Canada. Do you think anyone lives directly below?
August 6, 10pm Whatever the abbreviation for China time is…
Made it, hectically, onto flight number 2 of the night. Landing in Beijing is interesting. The wings turned all the colors of the rainbow as we descended and all I could wonder was what pollution was causing that. I’m very grateful that Melissa (a QSI teacher) warned me that airports were not air conditioned. It was hot, hot, and rather stressful collecting my bags that took forever to come to the carousel, rushing them to customs, then racing off to head back through security. American airport security was so easy. In China, the rivets on my jeans set off the metal detector and my bags had to be scanned multiple times. Fortunately, I was not alone. Everyone seemed to be having the same problem. I don’t know how security kept everyone’s items straight.
After I finally made it through security, I saw the time…and…my next flight had already been boarding for about 20 minutes. A driver of a little tram gave me a lift to the gate which was down at the far end of one of the terminals. In exchange, I gave him the smallest yuan note I had…100. I definitely overtipped and was kind of annoyed that I didn’t have anything smaller. Thinking about it later, however, I realized that I had given him the equivalent of about 16 US dollars. I can live with that.
I have seldom felt the dread I felt boarding the plane to Chengdu. After the first flight to Beijing, getting off at the airport was a definite respite. My legs loved being able to stretch and walk and, let’s be honest, run from one terminal to another. My whole body groaned at having to board yet another plane. A child from my previous flight boarded right after me…and promptly started screaming. Yes, little girl, I know exactly how you feel.
As I’m typing this, the crew is handing out a snack: a muffin and a piece of bread. At least, that’s what I thought it was. The muffin was okay…but a little dry. The bread was sweet and wonderful and had this delicious paste in the middle. Ah, my first taste of hopia (I think…).
Okay, let’s see if I can rest for an hour or so until this flight starts to descend. Thanks for the prayers of safe travel!