Posts Tagged 'travel'

Return Destination: Nanjing

Some of you may wonder what it’s like to travel to China with toddlers. Here’s our pictorial account of an international flight with two little people.

Step 1: Arrive at Vancouver airport at 9am. Unload suitcases and check out the aquarium in the terminal. Baby #2 sleeps on someone’s back.

Step 2: Board a 12 hour flight to Shanghai. Request bulkhead seating to use the infant bassinet. Eventually (after 6 hours) put both kids to sleep and cover with blankets.

Step 3: Deboard at Shanghai airport. Total travel time so far: 15 hours. At Pudong airport catch the Maglev train into downtown Shanghai. What would be a 60 minute cab ride through traffic takes 8 minutes at 430km/h.

Step 4: Call friend who has picked up train tickets for us in advance- there are never any seats left unless you buy them more than 2 or 3 days in advance. Problematically, they don’t go on sale until just 10 days in advance.

Board taxi headed for friend’s house to get tickets. See Shanghai’s cloudy skyline, and wish you could go see the Expo.

Step 6: Pay friend for tickets, and find out you have a three hour layover at the Shanghai railway station.  Continue in taxi to station, and find a dumpling restaurant that will amuse you (or you them!) for three hours before boarding the train.

Step 7: Watch as toddler falls asleep in your seat on the train as you enviously watch from standing position, wishing you had a sleeper car ticket. [Luckily this is a fast train that takes just over an hour and a half to get into Nanjing.]

Step 8: Arrive at Nanjing train station with two babies, two backpacks, three suitcases, and a food bag all in tow, and try to fight the crowds for a taxi. Board a taxi while toddler melts down from being kept awake after 22 hours of traveling.

Step 9: Get to hotel room instead of apartment (which is being fixed up and is closed). Crash out for the rest of the night/day, and wake up at 4 am local time with two babies bouncing off the walls.

And that’s pretty much a day in the life of a small international oriented family. There’s a reason we only do this at most once a year!

Advertisements

Where are we?

Once again, despite all good intentions, we’ve slacked off in updating this blog.  What’s our excuse this time?  The kids?  They come in handy for all manner of excuses, but this time we can find an even better one: trans-continental travel!  We’re currently back in the US!

This was a fairly unforeseen opportunity as recently as a few months ago.  Liz got a new job in Nanjing, and they required her for some training here in the US, so here we are!  Right now we’re in Washington DC.  Leo and Rosie have had a great time seeing all the national monuments and museums.  Pictures are coming!

We’ve seen some great old friends, and made some new ones too. We’ll be on the road here for another three weeks or so.  Our next stop is family in the Midwest.

Please stay tuned as we continue to update this site.  We’ll still make some posts about our China lives as there are many stories that are overdue.  Thanks for continuing to follow our escapade!

We’re back

Yes, we made it. We’re back in our home in Nanjing. How do we know we’re really here?

1) Within 3 hours of landing, four people asked to take Leo’s photo.

2) The unmistakable aroma of China air.

3) Having to figure out how to break the Great Chinese Firewall again to surf our blogs and Facebook.

4) Personal space? Is there even a word for that in Chinese?

5) Dumplings, and more dumplings, yum!

6) Jet lag has us awake at 3am every night.

7) Within 3 days of arrival, having the first bout of stomach.. discomfort.

8 ) Squat pots, no Western toilets in public spaces (and no hot water or soap!).

9) Cheerios are $10 a box again.

10) We can’t read the news anymore!

On to round two

We’re going back.  Tomorrow we board the plane for China for the second time in our lives.  We’re leaving from the same airport (Vancouver), saying goodbye to the same group of friends, but it feels so different from the first time around.  We have our own apartment waiting for us on our return. We have a job lined up.  Most of all, we have the Chinese language on our side this time!   Talk about a huge difference in our outlook.

And for those who may not have seen us this summer, our good news is that we have another baby on the way!  Stay tuned for reviews of maternal care in China, both prenatal and possibly delivery.

We’ll do our best to keep our entries frequent here on the blog.  It’s been a great way to stay in touch with all of you States side.  And we’ve heard about so many people we’ve never even met reading our posts.  At the very least, we hope we’re not boring you all.

So on to round two for our lives in China.  We have to admit we’re eager to go back, excited for whatever adventures cross our way.

The half pound difference

We’ve flown a lot this summer. A lot. And we’ve encountered a lot of different airline procedures in the process. Since we chose to fly only on airlines that aren’t charging for the first checked bag to save as much money as we could, this limited us to Southwest, JetBlue, and Alaska Airlines.

We have three suitcases stuffed to the gills with things we are taking back to China this week (yes, we’re going back for two more years!). Each one is right at the limit, 50 pounds per bag.

Checking in at every airport so far has gone well, with ticketing agents seeing us struggling to lug the suitcases, a carseat, a toddler, a food bag for the plane, and JM’s violin. They haven’t once objected to one suitcase being 51, 52, or 53 pounds.

Not once, that is, until our Alaska Air flight from Dallas this past Saturday.

Our bag weighed 51.5 pounds, and the agent with a blasé expression informed us the bag was too heavy. “Really?” we asked, explaining that each suitcase was at the limit already. “Yes, I can’t tag it if it’s overweight.”

Okay. So weighing the next bag showed 51 pounds, but with some jiggling of the scale, it went down to 50.5. “I guess I can tag this one before the number goes back up again.” Thanks.

The last bag was 49.5. Great, some room to even out. We took one jogging shoe and transferred it from the overweight bag. That again brought the scale up to 51 pounds, but with a little more jimmying, we got it to read 50.5. Quick! Tag it before it changes!

What’s ironic to us is that the shift of one running shoe made all the difference in the world to this ticketing agent. We don’t know what sort of policies at Alaska Air force them to take such a hard line, but it can’t help but seem just a bit petty to us. But travelers beware: the half pound running shoe can make or break your luggage allowance on this airline! Don’t be caught unawares, especially if your airport scale can’t be budged off the mark like ours did.

[PS- with all the time it took quibbling about the weight, Alaska Airlines wasn’t able to get our bags on our flight in the end anyway. We got them delivered later the next day at our destination. At least they made it, including the two bags holding the divided pair of running shoes.]

Summer in the USA

We’ve been in the US for over two months. Next week we’ll be back in China, and we’re just about ready for it. If you’ve wondered where we’ve been, you could have bumped into us in one of the following cities:

Ann Arbor, Austin, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Worth, Galveston, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, New Haven, New York, Seattle, Steubenville, Toledo, Vancouver

We’re not eager ever to repeat such a hefty itinerary again, but we’ve made such great memories on this trip. Thanks to all you for taking us in on our Odyssey!

4th of July

Bike riding

Playing ball

Rural sunset

Feeding chickens

First view of the beach

Beach time

Zoo time

Picture of summer

Summer in the U.S. that is:

Taking a leap