First Post from China – Getting Here

IMG_0981I will hopefully be able to update my blog while in China. WordPress is hard to get to (since I had to go through 2 proxies and am typing on a Chromebook which doesn’t allow for installing software). So, I’m not sure how consistent I can be.

Anyway, I am sitting in my wife’s parent’s apartment in Harbin, China after a long and arduous day and a half of travel. I just woke up after sleeping horizontally for the first time in nearly 30 hours, and I feel fantastic. It’s about 8am here on Sunday morning, so it’s Saturday evening for those of you in the US.

I haven’t seen much of China itself yet. It’s been a whirl of airports, airplanes, buses, trains, and cars since I left my house at 3am Friday morning. Today, I will finally get a chance to see my wife’s hometown. Later stops on our trip include Hangzhou and Beijing. I will probably add photos to these entries after I return because of how difficult it is to use WordPress here and because we will need to consolidate all of our pictures from our various cameras.

Here’s a timeline of my trip so far (using approximate Central Standard Time and Chinese Standard Time):

3:00am, Fri. / 4:00pm, Fri.

My dad and sister drove us to O’Hare airport from Hammond, IN.

4:00am, Fri / 5:00pm, Fri.

Went through security at O’Hare and all that jazz.

6:00am, Fri. / 7:00pm, Fri.

Took off from O’Hare towards Washington, DC. This was a pretty short flight on a pretty small plane.

8:00am, Fri. / 9:00pm, Fri.

Landed at Dulles in Washington, DC. We walked around for a couple hours and bought a couple things at some shops and stupidly ate giant pretzels. Vicky thought it was funny that there was a store here that sold stuff making fun of Obama right in DC. I managed to sneak in about 1 hour of sleep on the chairs near our terminal. Because they originally sat us separately, we got a free bump to economy plus and were able to sit together on the upcoming flight.

12:00pm, Fri. / 1:00am, Sat

Took off from Dulles toward Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing China. This was the longest flight of my life so far, clocking in at just over 14 hours, and I was going into in on about three hours of sleep in the previous 24 hours. Our plane was a 777, which was pretty big, having three rows of three seats. Each seat had its own touch screen TV/Computer with a bunch of free movies and shows to watch.

Vicky and I watched five movies during the flight, and that was still only about half of the time we were in the air. The first was “Lost in Thailand”, a Hangover-style movie about a businessman and a goofball from China who end up getting lost and going on several adventures in Thailand (obviously). Honestly, it was better and funnier than either Hangover movie. (Score: 7/10) The next one we watched was “Horrible Bosses”, a silly comedy that I think came out some time last year. I thought is was just okay, relying a bit too much on stupid humor, and I think I fell asleep during the last 10 minutes or so. (Score: 5/10) Next, we watched “Get Smart” with Steve Carrel. I guess it was based on an old show, but I watched it basically as a 007 parody, which is what it really was. I laughed quite a few times, and the action scenes were pretty well-done considering how parody movies tend to have low budgets for these sorts of things. Overall, not bad. (Score: 8/10) The second Chinese movie that we watched was “My Sassy Husband” which is apparently a sequel. It’s a romantic comedy about a couple who finds out, after 10 years of living together as a married couple, that their marriage license was never approved. They had been growing apart over the years anyway and decide to “divorce” and start seeing other people. The movie wasn’t too sappy or too silly, and it did a good job of showing the relationships between the major characters. I was pleasantly surprised. (7/10) The last movie we watched was “KIss Kiss Bang Bang” with Robert Downey Jr. This movie was awesome. I don’t know how I missed it before. It’s essentially a murder mystery but the main character is only studying how to be a detective because of an upcoming role in a movie he’s supposed to be in. He lies his way into getting hired to solve a series of mysteries anyway because one of the people involved is his childhood sweetheart. The way the plot moves forward and backward with an unreliable and fourth-wall breaking narrator was a breath of fresh air after watching four fairly standard movies right before it. I highly recommend the film. (Score: 9/10)

Other aspects of this flight included horrible food that made me sick, Longlines to use the restroom, getting sore from sitting too long and not being able to get up and move freely since I was against the window, a really awesome interactive map that showed a ton of information about the flight on the TV, and almost throwing up during the descent after eating the terrible food.

It was still a cool experience. The flight was over 7000 miles covered in 14 hours. That’s just insane. Like Louis CK said in his famous interview, that used to take 30 years!

2:00am, Sat. / 3:00pm, Sat.IMG_0984

We landed in China and finally got to stretch my legs. My stomach was really upset at this point, and I ran to a restroom as fast as I could (to thankfully not throw up). It was a little disorienting to go into the first stall to find a squat toilet, which I was certainly not in the mood to learn to use right then and there. Thankfully, the next stall over was a western toilet.

The process for leaving the airport was much simpler than I thought. There weren’t long lines or anything like that for document checks or customs. The whole process, not including 20 minutes waiting for our luggage, probably took no more than 5 minutes.

Yes, we had to go through the whole process of leaving the airport only to go right back in! Beijing was not our last stop. We still had to get to Harbin.

3:00am, Sat. / 4:00pm, Sat.

Vicky’s parents, earlier that day, flew from Harbin to Beijing to meet us and fly back with us for the last leg of the trip. I have met both of them separately when they visited the US, but this was my first time to see them both together. It was nice, but it would have been nicer if I wasn’t covered in sweaty, smelly clothes that I had been wearing for about two days at that point. I’m sure I looked horrible.

Anyway, Vicky’s dad bought us all tickets for the next flight to Harbin, and we went back through security and baggage check towards our terminal. When we got there, I was given a temporary cell phone to use during the trip, and I took some time to show my in-laws pictures of our house.

5:00am, Sat. / 6:00pm, Sat.

We took off on a small Southern China Airways plane towards Harbin Taiping International Airport. I don’t remember much of the trip since I was mostly asleep. I finally got an aisle seat after two flights without one only to have every person who walked past me slam into me in some form or another, including the flight attendants. It didn’t matter, though, I kept falling asleep every time. There was food on the flight, but I opted to just drink some water since my stomach was still upset.

7:00am, Sat. / 8:00pm, Sat.

We landed at Harbin Taiping International, and I had my first experience getting off a plane onto the runway. It was raining, which was amazingly refreshing. We walked down some stairs onto the runway then over to a bus which took us to the baggage claim area. It was an uneventful but tired walk from there to VIcky’s dad’s car. We drove towards her family’s apartment in the city and stopped (in the middle of the road!) to pick up some drinks from a convenience store. I was out of it completely and have no idea how long this car ride was. I was told it was about a half hour. So, that’s what I’m going with.

7:30am, Sat. / 8:30pm, Sat.

IMG_0970

Finally, we arrived at the apartment, which is super nice, and I quickly, took a shower, and immediately went to sleep. I’m looking forward to the rest of the trip, and I will try to keep my blog updated (although probably with less detail) as we explore!

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