MSP -> ORD -> ICN -> PVG

First Leg

A few hours ago, I checked my luggage in at MSP (a total of 91.5 lbs of my life), cried and cried and cried into Matt’s shoulder, and then bravely made my way through security.  Where I was promptly detained for possession of a 6 ounce tube of toothpaste.  Foiled again!

After the shakedown, I blew Matt a kiss and then cried some more as I plodded to my gate, where I eventually ran out of kleenex and had to stop crying.  Originally, my flight was set to leave at 1:55pm for Chicago, so I had time to scarf down some real Americana for lunch: a Whopper with cheese and fries.  De-lish.  I’ve heard there really isn’t any cheese in China (I’ll report on this posthaste), so I’ll have to find another dish with cheese for my airport dinner tonight.  Which I HOPE will be at O’Hare, but you never know.  We’ve now been delayed until 5:20pm, but about every 20 minutes, the time gets pushed back and I’m not optimistic.

You might be wondering why I’m in such a hurry to get to O’Hare (aside from being excited for my trip and all that), since I don’t actually leave there until 1am.  Isn’t a layover a layover, no matter where you are, you might ask?  Normally yes, but Matt bought me a pass to the legendary First Class Lounge at O’Hare (free drinks!  free food!  free drinks!), and all I want to do is curl up with free wi-fi and a free beer and maybe a cookie and read my book until my flight leaves for Seoul.

Instead, I’m here at crowded MSP in the no-class lounge (aka gate E6), paying $7.95 for internet and listening to this Irish guy swear into his phone about how bad United is.  Sidebar: Irish Guy looks EXACTLY like Frank McCourt, and I’m not just saying that because of his accent.  If I could take his picture slyly, I would, but I don’t want risk bringing all that gaelic rage down on me.  Anywho.

Here’s a picture of someone I CAN share with you: the foreign teacher coordinator from Hangzhou, Bao.  He sent it to me so I’d recognize him at the Shanghai airport.  Doesn’t he look so nice?!

Hopefully, I’ll soon be on my way to meeting him.  I’ll keep you posted…

Second Leg

I made it to ORD!  And to the First Class Lounge, which is sort of blowing my mind.  It’s like a secret world up here (yes…UP here.  I had to take an elevator to get here! And away from all those plebians, apparently.), with comfy chairs, ambient lighting, and a bar.  And…(get ready for this) free cheese.  I’m in heaven.

Too bad it closes at 9:30, at which point I’ll have to schlep back to the real world and track down a boarding pass for Seoul.  But before I drift off into the land of free beer and complimentary cheese, I do need to share this anecdote:

At my mom’s suggestion, I downloaded a game called “Every Word” to my Kindle.  It’s basically an anagrams game, where you’re given 7 letters and have to make every possible word from just those 7 letters, including the biggest word, using all of them, which allows you to advance to the next level.  On the plane to Chicago, I was stumped by these letters:


I got “lesson” and “noses,” I jokingly typed in “Olsen,” and then, because I was thinking of family, I typed in “Nelsons.”  WHICH WAS THE ANSWER!  If that isn’t some sort of cosmic force telling me that my family loves me and is with me in spirit, then I am terrible at reading signs.  But I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. 🙂

Okay.  Bar, then Seoul.  I’ll check back in as soon as I can find internet in ASIA!

Third Leg

14 hours later, I am in Seoul.  Incheon International is immaculate and with its shiny stores, reminds me a lot of Ridgedale Mall.  There is a Dior shop here, for crying out loud.  It’s a lovely morning- Friday morning!- here, and the overnight flight was surprisingly comfortable. I had beef sirloin for dinner at 3am CT, and lasagna for breakfast at 1pm CT.  I got 7 hours of off and on sleep, I finished reading The Hunger Games, and I watched the edited-for-family version of The Social Network.  It was strange and sort of thrilling to check my watch and realize that while we were flying in this no man’s land of time, people back home were waking up, getting coffee, going to work.  And we just kept going, and going, and going, over Siberia, over Mongolia, getting closer to Korea.

And so here I am!  In Asia!  Here’s a little video that encapsulates my experience at this airport.

We board the flight for Shanghai in about 10 minutes, so I’ll sign off for now and return soon with an account of the last leg of my journey to Hangzhou.  Plus I’m surrounded by- and I’m not kidding- at least 200 Korean students, all wearing identical purple puffy jackets and toting identical orange bags.  They are sitting in groups of 10 or 12, and they’re playing this hand-clapping game that is commanding all of my attention.  I wonder where I can get one of those jackets…
Fourth Leg

It’s 9:31pm in Hangzhou, and I desperately need sleep, but I promise to write tomorrow about the amazing dinner I had tonight.  For now, here are the two things I learned on my trip from Seoul to Hangzhou:
1) If you ever fly to Asia, go through Asiana Airlines because they serve you a full meal on a TWO hour flight.  With real silverware.  Including a knife.  Go figure.
2) They paint lines on the roads in China, but I have no idea why.
Goodnight!  Happy to be here. 🙂

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