Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Well that happened #7 : A Long Story

Well hello!
I should have a well thought out reason for my prolonged absence from this blog... but I don't. Basically I was busy until school ended, right after which we went to St. Louis for a couple of days. Then we came home, and I went straight to guard camp for a four days, packed for two days, then took off on a flight to Taiwan. There was definitely plenty of downtime for blog-writing, but, haha, that did not happen.

Normally, when I say "well it's kind of a long story" I usually actually mean "well I'm too lazy to explain it all so I'm going to say its a long story to avoid talking or texting." But, today is different. It really is a long story, so get comfortable and lets get started.

This the story of my travels from Dallas to Kaohsiung. 
On the day we were to leave, we all woke up at 3am to catch a taxi to the DFW airport. Emma and I were to take off at 6, so we had to be to the airport by 4am. Mom and Ben were on a different flight path that took off at around 9. I think.

Anyway, we got to the airport, and got in the great long line to check in. Only to find out that we were supposed to be in a different line. Yay us. So finally we got checked in and went to the security line which was even longer than the check in line. Emma and I were literally standing in the security line for like half an hour. Finally we got through and went to our gate. This is where the first of many mishaps happened.

We got to our gate, and as the ticket lady checked our passports and ticket, she told us that we needed a visa to get into shanghai, where we had a connecting flight. Firstly, we weren't even going to Shanghai on that flight. We were going to Toronto. Also we were never told that we needed a visa to take a connecting flight. Emma and I were a bit freaked out. I talked to the lady while Emma called mom, and in the end, the lady called someone higher up and found out that we really didn't need a visa.

So finally we get on the plane, and I realized: oh no, the lady took one of my boarding passes.
Naturally I kind of freaked out some more. I talked to a flight attendant who told me that I could print a new one as long I was checked in.


From there it was smooth sailing to Toronto. Yaaay. The connecting time in Toronto was really not bad. Emma and I played solitaire on the airport ipads, ate some snacks, and played other card games. We were there for about three hours, and then we boarded the plane for Shanghai. WHOO HOOO!!!

On that flight, things went relatively smoothly. We didn't crash and that's something. Normally I'd try to be optimistic about things, but since this is all about how rough this trip is, I have to inform you that the guy in front of us smelled like Asian farts. Good thing my sister was smart enough to bring scented wax cubes and we just waved them around, and it smelled like a mix of fruit and gummy bears. Then, we found old gum stuck to the underside of my arm rest. I was gripping the armrest to bend down and pick something up, and I felt it. Not really sticky anymore, but definitely squishy. I turned to Emma and asked "what should I dooo??? I don't want to wake HIM up" (we were the inner two seats, and there was a guy on the end of our row of seats. Finally I couldn't stand it anymore. My germaphobe self was dying of panic, so we woke up the guy from his sleep so I could go wash my hands. On my way to the bathroom, I informed this tall and rather round flight attendant about the gum, and he was so surprised. His solution was to get a plastic bag and tape it to the armrest to cover up the gum. I feel so bad, because while he was taping up the seat, all three of us in that row had to wait. I just feel bad for that one guy. I made him wake up, then made him stand for like 10 minutes while the flight attendant struggled to tape up the seat.
Overall it was just a looong flight. Normally a flight from North America to China goes over Canada, Alaska, then down through Russia, onto China. NOOOO. We had to fly all the way over the north pole, over Russia, down through Russia, THEN down to Shanghai. IT WAS THE ABSOLUTE LONGEST FLIGHT EVER!!!!!!

So finally we land in Shanghai right? It just so happens that my dad's flight back to the US from China was supposed to take off within the hour that Emma and I were supposed to land, so we figured we could go visit his gate and say hello. I haven't even seen him in like two weeks so we thought it'd be nice right? Wrong. We landed about 20 minutes later than scheduled (I blame that RIDICULOUS path we took), so we were already short on time. THEN we found out that we had to actually exit the airport, get our luggage, go through customs, then check back in to get to the leaving gates. I wanted to cry a little.
If you think that's rough, it doesn't end there. Firstly we had to get though the arrivals gates where the security guys make sure you have all the right documents. We had no Visa (remember?) so we had to explain to our guy that we were only there for a connecting flight. It took like 20 minutes of asking other officers and figuring things out, but we finally got a temporary pass to get out. Fortunately our officer police guy was really chill, and wasn't mean like some of the others.
We then head to the baggage claim. Back in Dallas, my mom had decided to check in the HEAVY luggage with us, because she didn't think she'd be able to haul it around with a sick Ben in tow for three hours. That left Emma and I to lug them around for two hours in the Pudong Airport. We went to find the check-in counter. We were then told that it wouldn't be open for another two hours. YAY US. In the end, we got checked in and got back though security.
We went to find our gate, which was gate 82. We sat there for a while, I looked around, and Emma took a nap. THEN if you'll believe it, they changed our gate. So we had to gather our stuff and pretty much zombie walk to the new gate which was on the lowest floor. I tried to stay awake, but I ended up falling asleep too. Finally we were called to board our plane, but to actually get to our plane, we had to get on this dinky bus then catch a ride to  the plane where we would get on some stairs to get into the actual plane. AND IT WAS RAINING. such is my life

We got on the flight, and I wanted to stay awake until we were up in the air, but I was so wiped out. I just crashed. I woke up some time later, and was really confused to find that we were STILL on the ground. As it turns out, our flight had been delayed for 40 minutes, but at least I'd woken up as we were about to take off. I have a thing about watching the ground when we take off. ITS JUST SO SATISFYING... (okay I'll stop being weird now lol)

Finally, we landed in Taiwan, and we had to get to the arrivals gate. We then were filling out an arrival card, and found out that we needed to know an address or a phone number, but Emma and I are Chinese illiterate, and we didn't know any phone numbers. In the end, I resigned myself to using the ever-expensive international data to give my mom a call. I dialed the number, hoping and praying it would work, because it was supposedly for US calls only, and my mom was supposed to be in Taiwan by then. AND WHAT IF SHE WAS STILL ON A FLIGHT?! I'd be stuck there for a while!!
So I called, and to my surprise, she actually picked up. I quickly said "Hey mom, I need a phone number real quick!!" She then said to me "I'm still in San Diego."
I just about died then. Of all things to go wrong and THAT happens. She gave me the phone number, said international calls were expensive (like I didn't know already) and said she'd explain when she finally arrived.

So finally we get out of the arrivals gate, get our luggage, and leave the airport with our grandma.

I later gathered from my relatives that they had misplaced Ben's passport, but they got it all figured out. She arrived the night after we did thank goodness.

almost 25 hours of travel time...
It was really eventful, but we're good now!!

My summer's been pretty full of excitement thus far, and it's been pretty fun. I hope y'all are having a good vacation!