再见 Zàijiàn

6/29/16

Due to our horrible experience traveling to Beijing from the US, United Airlines awarded us $200 per ticket in vouchers. I had to use them by a certain date, and at that time, and as I checked flight prices, it became apparent that it was going to be more and more expensive the closer we got to the summer and tourist season. So the kids and I flew out June 29th, the last day of decent priced tickets. B had to stay until July 8, the end of the semester. But his ticket would be reimbursed by the school, so it wasn’t a big deal to get the cheaper tickets earlier.

We weren’t sure how to arrange travel from our apartment to the airport. Coming, B’s school had picked us up. I didn’t think this would be the case, so I arranged a ride with the company who picked us up from the airport when we flew home from Thailand in December 2014. She assured me that they had a van that could fit 6 passengers (B rode with us and then took the airport express home) and all our luggage. When the van showed up that morning, just as people were starting to show up for school, I was skeptical and started panicking. Luckily, everything fit!! We said goodbye to our apartment and set off for the airport!

At the airport, there was a long line at the ticket counter. When we finally arrived at the front, they wanted to charge me for each of our second bags. I wouldn’t have it. We got there with two free bags per person on United, we were getting home the same way. Plus, I’m pretty sure ALL international flights allow for two free checked bags. Argh. Anyway, it was frustrating but they made it work. Compared to flying to China, flying back to the US was a breeze. Since there were five of us, when I picked our seats, I picked a row of three seats with a row of just two seats behind it. Buddy and I sat together most of the time with PS, Little Guy and Squidgems in front of us. I read a book on my phone (which I downloaded at the last minute as we were riding to the airport) while Squidgems played my Kindle. We were flying to San Francisco and then on to LAX.

I knew we had to go through customs in San Francisco, what I wasn’t expecting was that we’d have to retrieve all of our luggage, ten suitcases, two rolling carry-on suitcases and a stroller from the weird sized luggage carousel. Such a pain! And we only had about a 2 – 2 1/2 hour layover. Customs was so crowded. After using the computer kiosks to scan our passports and get little print outs, we had to wait for all of our bags, then go find the stroller, then load them all onto luggage carts. Luckily PS and Buddy are big kids that could help. We got in line but got separated by a group of foreigners in wheelchairs with airport staff pushing them around. Then the customs guy was mad that we weren’t all together. Then we had to re-check all our bags… simple enough, but there were so many of them. Then another security check. Meanwhile, I’m panicking about making our flight! And stressed that I couldn’t connect my phone or Kindle to airport WiFi to get in contact with B.  Luckily we made it, with plenty of time, and we were on the last leg, a short leg, of our trip home. My parents and my niece A were meeting us at LAX with two cards (ours and my parents’).

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China Life

Spring Festival clean-up. Note the fake blossoms… since they celebrate SPRING’s arrival in February, they have to fake it.
Now that it’s “spring,” there are birds out hanging in their travel cages getting fresh air. I’ve heard people take birds on walks too, but we haven’t been lucky enough to see that yet.
 3/2     Trying to capture the sunset in bad air.
 The Old Navy by us is open!!! (Wukesong mall)
 Buddy is obsessed with buying this fedora.
 Riding the bus to and from Old Navy.
 Trash can on bus says, “Do not stampede.”
Tree in the lobby of our church building.

3/6 Riding the subway home from church.

Bad Air

The air was building up to hazardous for a few days, and by 12/1 it was over 600. I had to go out for some groceries and toilet paper.

 All the right hand pictures are 12/1 (around 11AM). Top two pictures are taken from the 13th floor of our building. The top picture is facing east toward Beijing. The clear picture was taken on Sept. 3, 2015 when factories were shutdown for weeks and they were limiting how many cars could drive in Beijing for the Victory parade that day. You can see the tallest building in Beijing, about 18 km away. The middle picture is looking west toward the hills on June 11, 2015. The bottom picture is off our sun porch toward the school’s field/stadium.

 Fuxing Road/Chang’an Avenue, top looking west, bottom looking east toward the city, one block east of the Yuquanlu subway stop. June 2 and December 1.

We took a picture of my nephew’s Flat Stanley “enjoying” the air.

 

Look at the color coded forecast… red and purple and then

all the greens mean good air is coming soon!

Some links about Beijing’s Air:

 http://econ.st/1Oz8gj6

 http://www.thebeijinger.com/blog/2014/09/17/smell-two-cities-la-stinks-america-would-be-breath-fresh-air-beijing

http://www.kcet.org/updaily/socal_focus/history/los-angeles-smoggy-past-photos-31321.html

http://mashable.com/2015/12/01/beijing-smog-brick/?utm_cid=mash-com-fb-main-link#9SzT_42fpGqb

Then a breeze blew in that night. It was just a light breeze, but even when I glanced outside around midnight (having seen how gross it was as late as 8 or 9), I was shocked at how clear it was already. And the next morning… beautiful. Below, around 7 or 8 AM on 12/1 and then on 12/2.

Someone did a time lapse of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rWOn7op0dew

China Life

 10/4

 My new favorite food… Cookie Puffs at Paris Baguette (Y8 each but you have to buy two). Sort of like a cream puff but a snickerdoodle flavored puff part.

I couldn’t get a good picture of how matchy this couple is!

Leftover pizza from a YW activity. It’s from Tube Station but Kro’s Nest pizza is also GIANT.

 

I saw a Staples delivery truck at the school gate one day too.

I didn’t even know Staples (or UPS) existed in China.

 The movie theater we went to (future post) was in a fancy mall and in the women’s bathroom, there was a tiny urinal and a tiny sink! So cute!

 

People here match their spouses, their boy/girl friends, their kids their best friends. It’s sort of weird.

 Even in China, Uncle Sam wants us to do stuff.

Beautiful Day

8/27

In preparation for this Victory Parade in September, there are a ton of car restrictions and factories are closed, all so the air will be clean. It’s gorgeous! We went out on the school field and Squidgems and I messed around with my phone and he rode his scooter while B and the big kids played soccer with a bunch of Chinese kids.

Life in China

Every few months, B’s school gives all the teachers a box of fruit. Usually we are at least familiar with some of the fruit, but not always. We had to Google what these were. On the right, mangosteen and on the left, lychee.

 On a beautiful July 2. On the pedestrian bridge above Fuxing Road, one block east of the Yuquanlu subway station.The top picture is facing east, toward town. In the distance, you can see the tallest building in Beijing. The bottom picture is toward the west, toward some hills and a pagoda.

 

The new police substation being built outside our grocery store and McDonalds.

 

A puppy outside the mall at Wanshoulu subway stop.

 Sunflower seeds.

 

Cantaloupe.

 

Crickets… like in Mulan! First time I’ve seen them in China.

 

In a subway station… not sure what it is. ??

 

Little Guy getting his hair cut down the street at a Chinese barber shop.

 

Grocery shopping. Yum!

 My friend BW just got a car (embassy family, getting a license is simple). She and I went on an adventure to find Decathlon (a French version of REI here in Beijing). On the way home we drove past short pants and the tallest building in Beijing… just down the street from her apartment. This is on 3rd ring road.

 

Strange Chinese stroller.

Street food: These are sort of like a waffle cone rolled into a loop. *Sort of.

 

Napping in Walmart? Sure, why not?

Our subway stop has a little breakfast food stand set up in the morning. It’s a delicious round fried dough with an egg fried in it and then a “sausage” and something like shredded potatoes with some green pepper and they paint some sort of sauce on the fried dough. Mmmm… so good! You can also pick chicken rather than a sausage and lettuce rather than the potato-like filling.

 

Sorry, I left this sideways because this is how it was on the box. Extinouiher. Awesome.

 

Squidgems making friends on the subway.

 

John Lennon purse, anyone?