Travel – So long, China

I’m sitting at the airport in Shanghai writing my last blog post from here. My next one will be from the U.S… Some random thoughts…
I can’t believe I’m really moving home! I’ve lived abroad 6 weeks shy of 4 years!
I can’t wait to give my daughter Jenni a hug at the airport! I love being picked up!
I can’t wait to give Tiffany and the grandkids a hug… Lots of hugging!!
I can’t wait to give my mom a hug… That’ll wait until Sunday 🙂
I can’t wait to start homeschooling my granddaughter Sydnie!

I am going to miss a lot of people in Hangzhou… Saying goodbye was tough! To Jerry, my amazing driver, thank you for knowing me so well that you were spot on picking me up this morning on time and delivering me to the airport 3 hours ahead of time. You are AWESOME!

I am so fortunate that I have a part time job waiting for me at home AND will be starting my own business! So excited!!

I have a chihuahua waiting for me… Bebe! I’ll be picking her up on Saturday morning and I’m so excited!!!


And in 4 days I’ll be hiking in the Appalachian mountains for a few days!!

Life is good! Boarding in 10 minutes so up, up and away!!!!


Dukan – Consolidation Day 80

Daily Weight: 147 lbs
Goal Weight: 155 lbs

Spent the night last night in Shanghai and after dropping off Suz at the airport I headed back by subway to the train station and then the train back to Hangzhou.

My driver, Jerry, picked me up at the train station and took me to the Wet Market to buy meat and veggies… so much cheaper than the grocery store!

I then got home and started packing boxes for my move home in September. I packed two boxes and will ship them on Thursday… September 20th… leaving for U.S. date 🙂

Breakfast: Buffet at the Courtyard Marriott… I had a 3 egg omelet with onions, peppers and mozzarella cheese.
Lunch on the train: Beef jerky and a handful of almonds
Snack: Yogurt with Splenda and cinnamon
Dinner: Stir fried pork with onions and asparagus. Dipped that in Tamari (which is soy sauce without wheat in it) and wasabi… Oh My Was That Good!

Dinner Cooking 🙂

Dinner Plated!

Now I’m off for a 5 km run and then bed. I hope you all enjoy your Monday!


Dukan – A Good Day – Dukan Consolidation Day 78

11 weeks and 1 day into Dukan Consolidation Phase and doing great!
Today was my once weekly PP day, since I was unable to do it on Thursday.

Today’s Weight: 147 lb/66.8 kgs
Goal Weight: 155 lb/70.5 kgs

Back to work in Hangzhou after a trip yesterday to Shanghai. Got an early start on fine tuning a PowerPoint presentation on water birth for tomorrow (Sunday). I walked to work, as usual.

Breakfast: 2 tea eggs, 3 slices of lean bacon, coffee
Morning Snack: 1 ounce of Pepper Jack cheese
Lunch: 2 tea eggs, 3 slices of lean bacon
Afternoon Snack: 1 tea egg, 1 ounce of Pepper Jack cheese
Dinner: Lomo Saltaldo… oh MY was it good!
After Dinner Snack: Fat Free greek yogurt with Splenda and flax seed meal… I’m eating that now as I write this blog 🙂

Exercise Today:
Walk to work = 1 mile
Walk home for lunch = 1 mile
Walk back to work = 1 mile
Walk home from work = 1 mile
After dinner walk = 2 mile
Total = 6 miles

Water = 3+ liters of water today.

I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!


Parting shot… Baby Moon-Moon this afternoon… I love my babies!

Dukan – Consolidation Day 55

I am really missing my daily blog posts! I still don’t feel like I’ve caught up from my vacation!

Daily weight: 147 lbs/66.8 kgs
Goal weight: 155 lbs/70.5 kgs

Things weight and goal wise are going very well. I have to remind myself often that I am no longer in the Cruise Phase and can add a few things into my diet! Today (Thursday) is a PP day and so far I’ve stuck to that. On the Consolidation Phase (which for me will be 500 days long) you get to add some stuff back in to your diet, you get to have one celebration MEAL (not day) a week and you still have one PP day a week. Dr. Dukan suggests Thursday as that day, and I’m going to stick with that.

On Tuesday morning I got up early and went for a 2 mile run at sunrise. I then came back and did Chaz’s YOGAmazing 10 Minute Morning Flow workout. The combination of the two is a great way to start my day! Chaz has some amazing short yoga workouts that are easy to fit into your day and he also has workouts that focus on specific areas of your body, which I really love!

I then headed to work by walking and within the first hour was told I was being requested for a water birth. All day labor, difficult birth, as the baby was face up instead of face down, but this momma pulled energy from the universe and after nearly 3 hours of pushing had a gorgeous baby boy with a funny looking head… lol (it’s looking much better this morning!)

On Tuesday evening Alice came back for a night stay over. We went out to dinner with her son, Leon. Alice and I had the salmon with horseradish appetizer and we all three ordered mixed grill. The meat was DELICIOUS!

The waitress that took pics for us kept tilting all of our cameras… so none of us have a straight shot, lol!

Alice and I then headed back late to my flat and I was in bed at 1 a.m. (gasp!!! that is SO late for me!). And we were up at 6 a.m. to get a ride to the train station. Alice had a noon flight to Hong Kong.

Wearing Red, White & Blue on the train to Shanghai in honor of America’s birthday!

So off we went to Shanghai on Wednesday morning… the 4th of July. Not only is this America’s Independence Day, but it is also my little sister Nannette’s birthday!

Alice and I were suppose to be on the high speed train to Shanghai, which usually takes about 42 minutes, but we somehow got on the slow one… so between that and the subway ride on Line 2 from one end of Shanghai to the other to get to the airport, it was cutting it close… good Lord I was glad it was Alice traveling and not me, as we all know how bad my travel anxiety and time goes! We, of course, got there with plenty of time and from the pics that Alice posted on her Facebook wall of Hong Kong, she got there in one piece!

Bye Alice!!! It was fun hanging out!

I then got back on the subway and found my way to the grocery store that I shop at in Shanghai and found a restaurant that I hadn’t eaten in before. Sat down at a table with a lovely gentleman named Stern from New Jersey, in China teaching for a year, and had a wonderful conversation over lunch… we’re Facebook friends now 🙂  and then I got a little shopping done… mostly a backpack and sack full of groceries to sustain me through the week. I then took the subway back to the train station for the ride back to Hangzhou. I called Jerry, my driver (I love saying that… he’s a very cool dude!) and asked if he could pick me up… he said yes and told me to keep an eye out for the special way he was going to display my name at the train station…

You see MY driver uses an iPad instead of cheesy paper! 😀 Thank you, Jerry, for making me feel so special and important and for being environmentally friendly!

He then informed me that he was taking me to dinner to thank me for all the referrals that I gave him. He was taking me to the “best Chinese restaurant in town” and inquired about what foods I could and could not eat… the man pays attention! Too bad he’s married with a kid, lol! Just joking, his wife is one lucky lady!

So, he takes me to Nongtangli Restaurant near West Lake and he was not kidding… it was the best Chinese food I’ve had since I’ve been here! I decided right then and there that Wednesday, July 4th, was going to be my Celebration Meal of the week. Not that I ventured too far… I don’t do wheat, rice or potatoes… here’s what we had…

Spicy Black fungi and to die for pork… nommy, nommy pork, melt in your mouth, fall off the bone, better than sex pork 😀

And pumpkin with a creamed coconut sauce… now this was yummy!

And I had juice, which is something I haven’t had since August! It was fresh juiced green apple and grapefruit… cool and refreshing on this hot summer’s eve!

Awesome dinner, awesome dinner companion. Jerry then took me back to my flat and didn’t charge me for the pick up… such a great guy!

So my 4th of July food was:
Breakfast: 2 tea eggs, coffee at train station
Lunch: Salad greens and a poached salmon steak
Snack on the train: about 2 ounces of aged cheddar that was crumbly and sharp!
Dinner: See above… Yum!!
Snack before bed: FF Greek Yogurt with Splenda and flax seed
Water: About 3 liters
Exercise: 1 mile walk after dinner and 20 minutes of meditation

So how was everyone else’s 4th of July??


Travel – Not Quite Back in the Groove

Exhausted. Knackered. Achy.

Weight? Who knows, but the pants still fit… scale is missing in my “delayed” luggage. I did stick to my diet while on my vacation and since I’ve been back in China.
Exercise? Worry? Does that count? I can’t run, since my running shoes are also in my “delayed” luggage… along with clothes and underwear! I did walk all over Shanghai yesterday and to and from work on Saturday morning and to work, home for lunch and back to work so far today racked up 3+ miles.

That about explains the 3 ways I’m feeling right now. Even after having an 8 hour sleep
last night. Jet lag sucks… BIG TIME. So, I’m not quite back in my groove, but feel that an update is overdue, for sure!

I left Florida on Thursday morning at 1145 a.m. for a flight to New York’s JFK. As I blogged before, they actually have Wifi on flights in the States now… how cool is that? Nice 1.5 hour layover there then off to Beijing, except the flight is delayed and they are talking about me not making my flight to Hangzhou, blah, blah, blah… I actually said to the lady at the counter, “seriously, please don’t tell me that… I have travel anxiety related to timeliness!!!” I decided I was going to try not to fret over it… what will be, will be. They made up some of the time, but the transfer time was close in Beijing and I had to go through immigration, collect my bags and then recheck my bags and get on the flight. I had 47 minutes!

I sailed through immigration and went to the baggage carousel… one of my bags was the first one on the carousel!!! What luck! LOL… until after 25 minutes, the bags stopped coming and I realized that A. I had 15 minutes to haul my butt to my connecting flight and B. my 2nd bag was missing… PANIC set in. I ran to the missing baggage office and they put my baggage number in and found that my bag was still in New York… tears were shed, I’m a cry baby when I’m tired, and I ran to check my bag for the Hangzhou flight and actually made it on the plane… because it too was delayed.

I get to Hangzhou at midnight, collect my one bag and head to the lost baggage office to file a claim. It is now officially Saturday morning (I’ve missed all of Friday being in the air) and I have to be at work at 8 a.m. Through more tears I realize that the bag I have is NOT the bag with my clothes and my Brooks Addiction running shoes and MOST importantly MY SCALE… can anyone say MELTDOWN!?! She files the claim with the Air China office in New York and says, as she hands me the paper… it’s just “delayed” baggage, not “lost”… with the sweetest little smile. It’s hard to be angry with her 😦

I get a taxi home and fall into bed after loving all over Tits the Cat, who has apparently missed me immensely. He insisted I carry him around like a baby for half an hour! I got into bed at 3 a.m. and woke up at 558 a.m…. ugh! Made coffee, checked email and got ready for work… at work by 730 a.m. On my way to work I picked up tea eggs… I was so happy to see my favorite tea egg lady…

Those are the tea eggs in that ginormous crockpot!

I think the exhaustion hit me around noon. I felt like someone was sitting on my head! But I made it through most of the day. At 3 I decided to leave and called my friend Alice, a midwife from Florida who is visiting her son here in Hangzhou. They just happened to be at my favorite restaurant in town, The Vineyard, and I took a taxi there to meet them. It was so wonderful to see her. I think it’s been 15 years or so since I’ve seen her in person, but she is the one who inspired me to walk the Camino 2 years ago.

In bed Saturday night before 10 and up at 458… UGH! No problem, got up, made a breakfast of steak and onions and showered and dressed and headed out the door to get the train to Shanghai! A fellow blogger, Mona, was in China for a summer assignment and we were going to meet in person! How awesome is that? I love her photography on her blog and even though I was knackered as all get out, it was worth the trip to meet her!

Mona on the Bund… The Pearl in the background.

Walking to the Bund.

We met at her hotel and walked to the subway. We took that down to the Bund, which is the waterfront walk on the Pearl River. It was an overcast day, but we still had a good time! After walking the Bund we google mapped my favorite restaurant in Shanghai the Blue Frog. Unfortunately the address was incorrect and we ended up walking a heck of a lot more than we intended… no worries… the lunch and company was worth it!

On the walk we saw lots of cool things and some random things like the fresh piece of asparagus on the stairs of a walk over and this beautiful cherry in the gutter…

Cherry in the gutter… streets of Shanghai

After the trip back to Mona’s hotel, I taxied up to the subway and then took Line 2 to the Family Mart… the grocery store that I can get my Fat Free yogurt. Bought 8 containers and a few other items and then took the subway back to the Shanghai train station… it was a wonderful day!

Bye-bye Shanghai

Back to my flat… call to Air China “delayed” baggage office… “good news Ms. Blankenship, your bag is on the flight to Beijing! You should have bag tomorrow noon”… well, my assistant has just called and been told it’s still in New York… I’m trying not to panic. I’d like to have my clothes, my shoes and MY SCALE… my Vivien tells me it will come, “this is China, it’ll happen”… I take a deep breath, come back to my office and pray… yes… this is China… things do happen.

As I finish this post I am listening to the soundtrack of Rock of Ages… the music makes me HAPPY 😀 I HIGHLY RECOMMEND this movie. I know that it got crappy reviews, but they were wrong. It’s a funny, happy inducing movie and thinking of Tom Cruise (lovingly referred to as TC) singing and dancing “Pour Some Sugar on Me” gives this 48 year old giggles and smiles… If I was in the States… I’d probably have seen it 3 times already!

And now… Vivien has just walked into my office and said MY BAGS ARE GOING TO BE HERE, IN OUR OFFICE IN 2 HOURS!!!!!!!!!! OK, trying not to hold my breath, trying not to be too optimistic, but they asked her for directions to the hospital. Dear Lord, I pray it’s MY bag… lol.

With that… I’m outta here… if anyone has a secret to getting rid of jet lag quicker, I’d be ever so grateful!!!


“I’m hot sticky sweet, from my head, my head to my feet”… Pour Some Sugar On Me by Def Leppard… redone by the yummy TC 😀

Dukan – Day 196 – To Shanghai For Boxes

Friday was a PP Day.

Daily weight loss: 0.2 lb/0.10 kg
Total weight loss: 73.5 lb/33.41 kg

So I’m sitting on a train writing this. Taking an impromptu (at least I wasn’t aware) trip to Taizhou to be the guest speaker, presenter and media darling for the opening of their water birth room. This is what Kitty is doing…


More on the train tomorrow.

Friday up 425 a.m. To go to Shanghai to pick up my friend Lucy’s boxes. I know I’m an early riser, but seriously? Anyway, my driver, Jerry is awesome and his command of the English language is pretty darn good! He’s also teaching me Mandarin by word association, which works well for me. I found Jerry aka Hangzhou Jerry on a local BBS here. I’m so glad I did. His rates are reasonable (100 RMB/hour, $13) and he’s a safe driver and is like having your own private tour guide 🙂

We were in and out of customs in less than 30 minutes which must be some kind of record! And then on the road again to Hangzhou. We stopped midway for Jerry to get a bowl of noodles and me some meat.

After the boxes were settled in the office on my flat, I did 30 minutes of wii yoga and read emails.
Dinner was Beef stir fry with onions and seasoned with my son-in-law’s Awesome Sauce. And is it awesome and hot! I also put on some cracked lemon-pepper seasoning. Yummy!


I went running for 35 minutes and to bed early… Long day!


Dukan – Day 189 – Shanghai with Kitty

Friday was a PV day.

Daily Weight Loss: +0.9 lb/+0.40 kg… a gain 😦
Total Weight Loss: 71.3 lb/32.41 kg

So here I was up early on my day off to go to Shanghai. My friend Lucy shipped some boxes here and I needed to go clear them with Customs. I know, I know, I’m a glutton for punishment!

Driver here right on time at 730 a.m…. grabbed a couple tea eggs and then off to pick up Kitty. Kitty is my personal assistant (at work) and accompanies me to deal with paperwork because I have little patience to deal with stupid people (read: people who don’t want to do their job) and she keeps me out of jail 🙂 So here we are in the taxi, bright and early…

Hangzhou Taxi

It took us 45 minutes to get to the train station across twon here in Hangzhou (I might add that this is 3 minutes longer that it takes to get to Shanghai on the train 190 kms away!). Purchased tickets, got coffee and jumped on the train, as it was boarding when we purchased the tickets! Here we are in our 1st class seats. First class costs $5.71 more than 2nd class… worth every penny!

Kitty and Sandi

It took 42 minutes at 304 kph to get to Shanghai… I read my novel “The Wire In the Blood” by Val McDermid while Kitty napped… the girl can nap anywhere, at any time, it’s amazing!

Subway to our first destination and because Kitty is so amazingly efficient we got there without getting lost and she had all the paperwork ready, it was forthwith stamped (the Chinese stamp everything 457 times!!!) and money was exchanged and then we were cleared to go to customs.

But it was lunch time, so on to the subway to go to my favorite hamburger joint, The Blue Frog … woo hoo 2 times in 1 week! What a lucky girl I am. The server actually asked if I wanted what I had on Sunday and repeated it verbatim… am I really in China?!? I was pretty darn impressed, and yes, I wanted exactly what I had on Sunday 🙂

Lunch at the Blue Frog

Kitty had a HUGE burger, which she deconstructed and ate with a fork and knife. She also tried ketchup for the first time… and liked it… poor girl is getting Americanized by me.

After lunch a quick stop off at the City Shop grocery to pick up fat free yogurt (can’t get it in Hangzhou anywhere, and the City Shop online delivery warehouse didn’t have any last week. I got 10!

Then off to the customs office where the lady didn’t want to do her job (no big surprise) and as I wound up to start running my mouth, my sweet, naive, soft-spoken Kitty says, “I’ve got this” and lays into the lady, with a sweet smile on her face, but an angry voice and the lady did her job. We were in and out of the Customs office in under 30 minutes.

Back to the train station by way of 3 different Lines and train headed back by 436 p.m… The sad part, it took 1 hour and 17 minutes to get to my flat from the train station.

Dinner was stir-fried steak chunks with onions, squash and garlic stems.

I’ll tell you where the 0.9 lbs came from… I had NO WATER, at all. I had 1 cup of coffee in the morning, 1 latte in the train station in the morning, 2 diet cokes with lunch (something I rarely drink anymore, and don’t miss to be honest), a latte at the Shanghai train station, and 2 cups of yellow label tea at home. NO WATER… it makes a huge difference. And I noticed my urine was concentrated last night… hmmm, do you think that could be from drinking no water!?!? 😀 I also didn’t get in my yogurt and bran. I had no appetite for it last night.

Exercise… Kitty and I walked up and down every single stair there was in the subway system. We didn’t take the escalators, even with my back pack full of yogurt and a few other groceries, I climbed the stairs. It felt great and accomplished… Kitty, ever the trooper, went along with it, but told me on the train that her legs were tired. Bless.

All in all a good day. Here’s one last pic… a family sculpture in Shanghai that we passed, and as my driver Jerry reminds me FAMILY = Father And Mother, I Love You… pretty cool, huh?



Quote of the day: “You don’t always get what you wish for, you always get what you work for”

Dukan – Day 188 – You’re Giving Two Speeches

Today was a PP day.

Daily Weight Loss: 0.4 lb/0.20 kg (4th day in a row that I’ve had 0.4 lb loss, strange!)
Total Weight Loss: 72.2 lb/32.81 kg

So off to work I go this morning… no confrontation at the tea egg line, this is a good thing for me and you can see the relief on the lovely, smiling faces of the tea egg ladies 😀

After morning rounds I am told that I’m going to help with bathing babies as they are short of staff (for new comers, I’m the Quality Manager for a maternity hospital in China, helping them improve to international standards and I’m a midwife by trade, not practicing here (or at least that’s what it’s suppose to be… LOL). Anyway, bathed a lovely baby boy while the marketing department snatched dozens and dozens of pictures of him for the parents. He also had a swim in the tank, settled when I sang him The Rose (my go to song to make babies stop crying) and then I gave him a lovely massage. Taking my time so I’d only have to care for one bambino!

After that, Kitty (my personal assistant) and I went back to our office and she comes into my inner office with a 4 page document to show me which events next month I have to attend and which ones I’m speaking at. Speaking at?? “Yes, she says, You’re giving two speeches”… “What do they have to be about”, I ask. And she replies, “Oh, don’t worry, they will make for you”… Lovely. So someone will write my speeches in Mandarin and then Kitty with translate them into English for me, then I will read them out loud in English and Kitty will translate verbally to the audience in Mandarin. I love this place. I am their marketing doll and I really do enjoy it! I have to do very little, but show up, look pretty, speak and smile. I imagine this is kind of like being a beauty queen 🙂 Kitty has informed me that this is all in honor of our hospital being open for 1 year and we will be celebrating from March 3 – April 4th… The Chinese know how to party it up!

Lunch at my desk, 2 tea eggs and 3 slices of ham.
Dinner… funny thing, I forgot to take meat out of the freezer, something I rarely do, and ended up stopping at the street vendor on the way into my apartment complex. She sells what looks like chickens and I thought I’d get one, sans the head (they serve it with the head here), and have that for dinner. She explains that they are free range ducks, this is why they are smaller than what I’d be used to from the U.S.. Well, ducks and Dukan don’t go together because of the fat content, but I need to eat so I buy one. She expertly shaved the meat off the bone and presented it to me in 2 little containers. It.Was.Yummy!!! Really yummy! But my tummy felt heavy for about an hour after I ate.

I went for a run, did 35 minutes and 17 seconds in the pouring rain, but I’m really starting to enjoy it. Kept up my 7 mins. run/2 mins. walk ratio and it seemed easier this time around.

Yogurt with bran and splenda for snack and off to bed… trip to Shanghai on Friday!


Quote of the day: “Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness” -Edward Stanley

Dukan – Day 184 – Six months in and Feeling Awesome!

Sunday was a PV day.

Daily Weight Loss: 0.4 lb/0.20 kg
Total Weight Loss: 70.9 lb/32.21 kg

So it was six months ago today that I began my Dukan Diet journey. And I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that I did! By sticking to this diet and by not straying (with the exception of a rare few times) I have managed to nearly lose 71 pounds in 6 months. I feel GREAT! Great doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel. My knees don’t hurt. I bound up and down the stairs at work. I use the stairs everywhere I go (like in the Shanghai subway yesterday). I walk 1 mile to work, clock in and take the stairs to the 4th floor. In August, I would have been winded before getting to the 2nd floor. Now… no problem!

Yesterday I woke up early, caught a ride to the train station and spent the day in Shanghai. It’s a 42 minute bullet train ride and worth it. I had lunch with Federica and Will and did a little shopping. Picked up a couple of pair of jeans (one size 12, one size 14) and then coffee with them and the trip back. Makes for a long day. Makes for a short night of sleep, but through the yawns this morning I feel as if it was worth it. Worth it for my mental health and worth it to get a couple of pairs of jeans in normal size for a bargain 🙂

Speaking of jeans… I promised before and after butt pics. This first picture was what really made me realize I needed to do something immediately about my weight. This is at my 30th Class Reunion in August 2011, a couple of weeks before I started the Dukan Diet… I’m in the purple sweater… Good Lord!

Oh My!

And this was this morning… We took a couple of shots from a distance but because I’m wearing all black, they just didn’t show anything. Vivien insists I use this one… it’s a close up, but I’m loving my waist definition. And… in the pic above my hips were 56″ (cringe)… they are now 44″… that’s TWELVE INCHES LESS! And my waist has gone from 45 1/2 inches to 35 1/2 inches… TEN INCHES LESS… All I can do is 😀 So here’s my close up… LOL…

Dukan Diet = Smaller ass and waist 🙂

I have received so much encouragement from family, friends and fellow bloggers that I am amazed and humbled on a daily basis. It really is what has pushed me to continue down this amazing path of wellness.

Again… thanks for all the encouragement and for those of you on this journey… YOU CAN DO IT!


Quote of the day: It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect it’s successful outcome ~ William James

Traveling Girl

So, off I go again on another adventure. This one proves to be challenging and fun… How my week went:

10 days ago Barbara Harper ( asked me if I’d like to do a waterbirth training in Shanghai, China. Um, duh… of COURSE I WOULD! I love Barbara, I have loved her from the first time I read her book, Gentle Birth Choices. I used to show the video to every single childbirth class I taught. Then I met her and she’s even better in person (LOL). Her energy, her vision, her everything is amazing.

So, next step was to get the time off from work… which I managed to do without a hitch! We made plans and the plane tickets were purchased and off I would go on Saturday, April 30th to Shanghai.

Then, off to get a visa to visit China… ROADBLOCK AHEAD! Because my current employer hasn’t managed to obtain a Residency Visa for the UAE yet, the Chinese Embassy could not issue me a visa to travel to Shanghai… PANIC MODE. What to do? Will I have to fly to the States to get a visa? Call off the trip? As I’m hyperventilating, trying not to cry and basically yelling on the phone at the PRO from my job, the Chinese embassy man is tapping on the glass to get my attention.

I walk back to him, people part ways because the crazy lady is coming through, and he proceeds to tell me he has a solution for me… you do??? You can give me the visa? Um, no, but you can FLY TO HONG KONG to get it. LOL… my laugh cracks me up. Living in Abu Dhabi is like livin’ la vida loco… seriously. Now this is Sunday, I’m suppose to go to Shanghai on Saturday… SIX DAYS AWAY! and now this guy is telling me that to get into Shanghai, I’ll have to go to Hong Kong…. how to do.

Next stop… Emirates Airlines. I drive over to their office which is on the Corniche:

Abu Dhabi Corniche

Instead of going into the office, I walk over to the water and sit for a few minutes, collect myself, have a little chat with the BIG GUY upstairs and beg him for just one little thing to go right… just one, let’s not make this day too difficult for me, ya hear? I’m fragile… LOL

I then proceed to go over to the office and find the nicest Iranian girl in the world, who helped me, got me a GREAT seat and didn’t charge me a change fee for my flight. She booked me to Hong Kong, then HK to Shanghai and left my return flight the same. The good news… I get to fly on the A380… biggest plane in the sky… two stories of luxury at it’s finest. Even the cheap seats recline!

So, then back to work the next day to tell the boss that now I need 3 more days off from work! But, simple as pie, maafi mushkala! Now I have less than 24 hours to pack for a 2 week trip… I can DO this!

Packing itself was a challenge, but I am so happy that I did all that laundry on Saturday! Why was packing a challenge, because I think the cats KNOW when I’m leaving… this is the kind of games that they play:

Marina trying to sneak her way in to the suitcase!

And this is what her brother Oyster did when I told him I was leaving for 2 1/2 weeks:

Oh no, Mom, not again!

But quick packing I did! Arranged for a ride to the airport with my friend, Laura, which meant GETTING UP AT 355 a.m. to go! But, ride beggars can’t be choosy! So we got up very early and headed out to Dubai.

I got to the airport with more than 4 hours to spare, which was nice, because those of you that know me well, know what travel anxiety I have. Nope… it’s not about flying… I have NO fear of flying because I have NO fear of dying. I just have general anxiety of making sure that I’ve got everything packed (I didn’t… I forgot the HK hotel vouchers on my desk at work and it was the FIRST thing they asked for!!!) and about getting to the airport on time. So, no problem there, given that I was there so early. I had a lovely breakfast and then sat and read for a few hours. Nice and relaxed. And then the plane pulled in… WOW! I hadn’t seen the A380 in person… just pictures and she is impressive… take a look:

My Ride!

After much anticipation, we were ready to board. I lucked out and had a flight attendant sitting two seats over, no one between us. She was on holiday and flying to meet her boyfriend in China. Awesome chick, very helpful and we have something in common… we both love playing…


OMG… I was so happy to see that they had something fun to do while flying! Jenni… I know you are just jealous as all get out now! 🙂 We had a great time playing and chatting.

Barbara made my reservation and requested vegetarian… which was fine, but I’M A MEAT EATER BARBARA! LOL! The meal was actually quite awesome:

Lunch on the Emirates A380

It was a pasta filled to the gills with yummy veggies (one I have no idea what it was, but it was yummy!) and a large, fresh roll, real butter and an interesting pudding like dessert. I watched Social Network while eating and it was a pretty decent movie, even though they portray Sean Parker as one of the founders of Napster…. which he was not.

I read my James Patterson novel, Fang, and then settled in for a very comfortable nap. The cheap seats on the A380 RECLINE! Yup, they do. And I didn’t have a seat in front of me, so I had tons of leg room (I tried a regular seat and it was more roomy than British Airways and Etihad). I slept without awaking for the 1 hour I had set my alarm to. I awoke to this charming young lady doing stretches in front of me:

Charming Young Lady

Later, she left her sunglasses and something odd (not sure what it was, honestly!) in the bathroom, after what I (and many others) suspect was attaining another notch in her mile high club belt… and I found it. She just about squeezed me to death for giving them back to her… too funny. I did, however, feel like I needed to be decontaminated!

All in all, a great flight. The service on the Emirates A380 was excellent! The food was pretty good and the flight was smooth, with only a couple of bouts of turbulence.

On the hotel transfer bus I sat in the front row to avoid motion sickness. They had 80’s/90’s music on the radio. The third song was “We Are the World” and by the end, I think everyone on the bus was singing it… even though the seats were high and none of us could see each other… on 2nd thought, maybe that’s why we were all singing… we were anonymous! The 2nd song we all sang together was Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”… Fun ride, I love singing… even if it is off-key!

So… just a couple of more pics to wrap things up… this is what the line looked like at the Visa office this morning:

Visa Line at the Chinese Consulate

I thought I would be there all day, but alas, I was there less than 2 hours! When I finally made it inside, through security and up to the 7th floor, I was #214… the number on the board was 145! Ack 69 people ahead of me, but it went very quickly. Now I just have to wait to pick it up tomorrow morning.

I decided to walk back to the hotel and stopped at a little specialty store to pick up some lunch… I got a Coca-Cola Light with lemon (something I can’t get in Abu Dhabi… the lemon part that is) and some sushi and my favorite chips in the whole wide world that I can’t find anywhere but HK.. Curry Chips. Next to the curry chips were these chips:

Kyushu Seaweed Flavored Lay's Potato Chips... who knew!

I was tempted, but I so wanted the Curry Chips more… shucks! So, now I’ve been hanging at the hotel all day. Started reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini. Catching up on some stuff on the computer, doing some competencies for my real job, reviewing work sent to me by my girls back at the hospital and playing Mahjongg Dimensions, which is, for some crazy reason, blocked by Etisalat, my sucky internet provider!

I hope ya’ll have enjoyed my update… more later in the week, after I’m in Shanghai, unless something earth shattering happens here in HK in the meantime… Ciao!