After loading up on the last American meal that we’d be having for a while (at 5 Guys, the finest of American cuisine, thanks to Alison’s dad, Dave) we arrived at the airport with our 9 to-check and 4 carry-on bags in tow.
After getting through security we had plenty of time before the first flight and leg of our journey. What does one do with 2 hours to kill before an international flight? Naturally, we made our way over to the bar.
After filling up on microbrews, it was time to make our way to Atlanta. Our Atlanta to Seoul flight was our next and longest. This almost 15- hour flight was a haul! Not bad, but difficult. Neither of us can sleep well on planes and we were in the very back row. Fun travel tip for your next flight in case you didn’t know…the back row of seats doesn’t recline = good luck sleeping. But we had fun with the complimentary slippers and food provided.
Arriving in Seoul early the following morning gave us time to find a bathroom, get cleaned up, change our clothes, and find a spot in the terminal to try and squeeze in a few hours of sleep. It was here in Seoul that we realized America really needs to step up their bathroom game. If you’ve never tried a toilet with a bidet, then warmly fans said hind parts!…Oh, well you haven’t really lived, have you? Total game changer. Of course it was a little bit like Russian Roulette since neither one of us can speak or read Korean. But, you only live once. Sometimes you just have to roll the dice and hope you pushed the right button.
Our final flight for Qingdao was a quick 60 minute hope across the Yellow Sea. Fast, easy, and uneventful. It was a relief to finally set foot in our new home after so many hours of traveling. After making it through customs to the baggage claim, we were both incredibly amazed that all of our 9 checked, and mostly overweight bags, arrived with us! We each thought that at least one wouldn’t make it. We were greeted by a member of our school’s HR department who helped us buy Chinese SIM cards for our phones, and helped us check into our hotel. But before we went to our hotel we had to check in with the local police station. As foreigners living in China, you have to check in with the local authorities upon your arrival. Living in China comes with a new and different set of rules and laws…this is just one of them.
Once we dumped our bags down it was time for the great debate, to sleep or not to sleep? By this time it was about noon and we were trying to stay awake so the jetlag wouldn’t cripple us for the next few days while we acclimated to +12 hour time difference. So, tired and groggy we made our way into a shopping center to find some food. Finding a spot that Alison said looked good (it had 4 foot tall dancing lobster statues outside), we entered a new world of Chinese food. The first thing we noticed was that there was absolutely no English on the menu and neither of us knows enough Mandarin to get by yet…so with the help of our broken Mandarin, a few phone apps, and a lot of pointing, we ordered some amazing noodles and wontons.
33+ hours in four airports, +12 hour time difference, and 0 hours of sleep later, we made it to Qingdao! YAAAAAAA! Now off to get some sleep! The next adventures that awaits us … medical screenings and apartment hunting.