From the hotel’s airport shuttle pickup in Los Angeles to our doorstep in Chengdu, Thad and I logged more than 10,000 miles in almost exactly twenty-four hours. (I suppose it could be worse- much worse. When I just used Google Maps to look up the distance, it told me that walking here would take 141 days and twelve hours. I must applaud Google for them rather exact timeline, as it narrows down the walking time to within half a day. That’s pretty darn accurate! Google also helpfully tells me that my journey on foot will require the usage of a ferry. I think “ferry” might be a bit of an understatement when it comes to a mode of transportation for crossing the world’s largest ocean. Just saying…)
Our itinerary consisted of one fourteen hour flight from LAX to Shanghai, a three hour layover (which became four) in Shanghai and then a three hour flight to Chengdu. What does one do with fourteen solid hours on an airplane? Well, to begin with, one (this one!) is as happy as a clam with her upgrade from the total riff-raff section of the flying metal tube to the semi-riff-raff section, thereby gaining a god-send of five extra inches! (I believe the upgrade was in response to the polite, yet firm, letter I sent to United about my previous travel experience trying to get from Idaho back to Washington DC. I never received anything in my email as a response to my complaint, but our seats just happened to get bumped from the very back of the plane to the oh-so-lovely United Economy Plus section. Those extra few inches are undeniably amazing!) So, with a bit of extra legroom, and still fourteen hours to kill, what is there to do? I passed by afternoon/evening/afternoon/evening (I’m pretty sure we never hit night or morning as we followed the sun) by watching all of the available episodes of New Girl and The Big Bang Theory, making a personalized playlist of as many pop songs as I could find (making the playlist on their system took nearly as long as actually listening to the whole thing!), coloring what has to be the world’s most complex (and now awesome!) picture of a rhinoceros and finishing not only my book about North Korea, but also my book club book. (I know I am *way* behind on book reviews. Now that we are getting settled, hopefully I will get going on them again!)
What I really want to know is: How is it possible that our three hour flight from Shanghai to Chengdu felt longer than the fourteen hour one from the US to China?!? I don’t think I slept more than about half an hour coming across the ocean, but once I hit that China Air flight, all I wanted to do was sleep! But, of course, I no longer had my miraculous upgrade through United, so Thad and I crammed our long legs into the not very accommodating space between rows and tried, in vain, to sleep sitting straight up.
We were lucky that Thad’s timeline coming here put us in not only on a Friday night, but the Friday night of a three-day weekend. Having that extra day to combat jet-lag before showing up at work was fabulous for him. The weekend was spent wandering our new neighborhood, where Thad took some great pictures of daily life, as it is, in China.
I was thrilled to find that there is an H&M store in Chengdu now! I’ve never been in one in the US, but I promptly skittered in to the one here when I saw it and was thrilled to find clothes with Western sizing in them, some that might even fit me! I’ll be reminding Thad of that when birthdays roll around! We also drove past a Hooters, which is a new addition to Chengdu since we left last time. That one we will not be remembering when birthdays roll around!
After wandering town, both our very authentic-feeling neighborhood and the more touristy JinLi road area, I think we are both ready to settle in and get to work here. My new sidewalk is a bit bumpier than the one in Washington DC (it rained last night and I already stepped on a brick-bomb- the loose bricks that hold water under them, creating a booby trap that splashes muddy water everywhere when stepped upon), but it is good to finally be walking it!