We are in China!
We’ve actually been here over two weeks, but those weeks have been so busy that they will take several posts.
Before we left the United States, Ben added a few more badges to his vest, including Death Valley, Yosemite, and San Francisco’s Maritime Park.
The last is a nice counterpoint to his Friendship of Salem and New Bedford Whaling badges, and with it we completed our journey from East to West, Atlantic to Pacific. (We also went to Fort Point and Golden Gate, but unfortunately they didn’t have any Jr. Ranger activities.)
We sold our camping gear to a young father wanting to take his son camping for the first time, and sold our car to a nice family with a toddler boy. We unpacked everything we had had with us, as well as the boxes we had sent ahead, then got rid of our last worn travel clothes, bought three pounds of Peet’s coffee to get us started, and laboriously packed our remaining possessions into 8 suitcases, 3 carry-ons, and three personal items, with every checked item within the size and weight limitations. This is not nearly as simple as it sounds, especially when some of the suitcases are about as big as they are allowed to be.
Our flight was long, and transferring in Seoul after 15 hours on a plane, with a very sleepy kiddo, was not much fun, but the experience on Asiana, a Korean airline, was a huge step up from the American airplanes we have taken (and don’t get me started on the Air France stewards).
It was hot and steamy when we arrived, which was a big contrast from the chill of Berkeley and the dry heat of our trip in the West and midwest. We commandeered three luggage carts to carry all our gear, and Ben was much admired as he piloted his through the airport.
We were met by a driver, who managed to fit all of our suitcases into a van, along with us. Things were going along swimmingly until he got into SIP and asked us, in Chinese, how to get to the R&D apartments, where HR had arranged for us to stay when we first arrived. This was after midnight China time, and some ungodly hour SF time, and after very little sleep. He did eventually manage to find the place, where we were asked to hand over a very large sum of money and sign a year’s lease, which we refused to do. (Later, when we were trying to explain that we planned to stay about a week, they somehow translated this into three years; dealing with R&D is a trial by fire.) They took us up to our room, which had no electricity, and therefore neither lights nor air conditioning (and remember, it was very humid and very hot). It took three guards and a handyman over half an hour, pulling wires and poking at things with screwdrivers, to turn the electricity on. By 2 AM we had the place, the smallest two-bedroom you can imagine, to ourselves. Everything got a lot better after we had some sleep.