Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ni hau from China

The first year of grad school ended well enough, Chad and I went back to Midland for 5 weeks to work - him as a summer associate at Stubbeman and me as a barista/cashier at Harvest Caffe - and as of Wednesday, we've started our two months of travel lunacy. Here's the itinerary:
June 25 - July 4: China
Kunming, Beijing, and Hong Kong with MacDonald family

July 5 - July 30: Germany
Berlin during the week and TBD German destinations on the weekends

July 31 - August 5: Boston/Berlin
Morgan in Boston with Darcy & Chad stays in Berlin

August 6 - 9 or 10: Midland
Packing all the things that didn't go to China & Germany

August 9 or 10 - August 16: Dallas
Chad has a week-long summer associate position at Haynes & Boone

August 17 - 19: Nashville
Try to organize life before school starts

August 20 - 23 New York
Just for kicks since the MacDonalds have a place in Manhattan

August 24: Nashville
School starts

Since lunacy is abounding this summer, it's only right that you hear the details and witness it all through pictures. I'm working on getting a cable to download the pictures (which is sitting in one of many piles scattered throughout my various homes), but for now, here is China thus far.

Day 1
Chad and I left Midland on a 6 am flight to Dallas, then San Francisco, then Hong Kong. The 24 hours of travel went better than I'd expected. It's like a long drive - after a while, your brain just floats along and you forget that you've been on a plane for a full day. We landed in Hong Kong with all of our baggage and waited for Curtis' plane to get in before grabbing a taxi to the hotel. We had the hotel name written out in Chinese, so we just handed the paper to the taxi driver. This has pretty much been the only way we can get around, since we can't even attempt to pronounce the hotel names correctly, so we're totally dependent on some nice English-speaking Chinese soul to look at our email confirmation, know which hotel it is, and write it in characters without taking the opportunity to play a practical joke on a bunch of Americans. So far, so good. We all stayed up in the hotel lobby for the next 3 hours, drinking Chinese beer and French wine, and snacking until Rod made it in. The hotel was super sleek and modern, everyone spoke some English, everything was written in Mandarin and English, and the rooms (including showers and toilets) were exactly what you'd expect in an American hotel.

Day 2
We all woke up in plenty of time to head back to the airport for a noon flight to Kunming. Whitney and Patti had already been camped out at the 5-star hotel there for a week so that Whitney could get acclimated and practiced well enough to perform her solo with the Kunming orchestra. So back to the airport we went. Interesting thing about the Hong Kong airport - since Hong Kong is an island, when they ran out of expansion room, they decided to just build another island for the airport. The patient little Chinese people flattened a small, mountainous island and put in ton after ton of dirt into the ocean until the island quadrupled in size. No shock that this is the most expensive airport in the world, but it is shocking how spacious it is. with hug lobbies, extra-wide walking areas, and plenty of spaces between rows of chairs at the gates. And even after $20 USD in construction, they're still willing to pitch in free wireless. We boarded our Dragon Air flight and were amazed when they announced they would be serving lunch for our 12-2 flight - and it was better than any of the food United served on our international flight! Plus served with orange juice, water, your choice of additional drink, and coffee/tea to finish it off. So there are occasional perks with a communist regime that subsidizes airlines.

But we'll have to continue with Kunming later because it's now time for breakfast and exploring Beijing.

Zai Jain!